Minister wants ‘Bilingual plus 1’ nation

As part of the Welsh Government’s drive to increase take up of modern foreign languages, Education Minister, Huw Lewis has set out his ambition for Wales to become a ‘Bilingual plus 1’ nation, with the learning of an additional modern foreign language beginning at Primary school.

Speaking at the German Embassy’s Sommerfest der Deutschen Sprache’s  (Summer Party for the German Language) Head Teacher conference,  the Minister said he would like to see children in Wales learning English and Welsh from the start of school, with a third or fourth language being introduced at Year 5 (aged 9 to10).

Huw Lewis said:

“As we all know, globalisation is continuing to transform our economy and industries, bringing us all closer together and impacting on all of our lives.

“Our challenge is to equip our students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the new global economy and this is an issue that was central to our recent curriculum review, undertaken by Professor Donaldson.

“I want our young people to understand that a sound knowledge of another language can help them get ahead in life, in education and the competitive world and I want to reverse the recent UK wide decline in the take up of MFL here in Wales.

“To ensure success in this area I believe we should  start introducing additional languages at a much younger age.

“I want us to be a nation where it is the norm for pupils to learn and become excited by a modern foreign language from Year 5 of  Primary school,  and well before making the transition to secondary school.”

As part of this work the Minister said he would ask the newly announced Global Futures steering group to advise on how and when the change to MFL learning in Year 5 might be made.

Just last month the Minister set out his new plan to improve the take up and teaching of modern foreign languages in Wales. ‘Global Futures –  the Welsh Government’s plan to improve and promote MFL in Wales’ will come into effect from September and will be backed by up to £480,000 of Welsh Government funding in the first academic year alone.

The plan has a strong focus on driving up the quality and take up of  MFL subjects in Wales and will see one secondary school in each of Wales’ four regional consortia being designated as a Centre of Excellence for Modern Foreign Language and working in partnership with other secondary schools and primary schools.