Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Minister for Education, has announced reforms that will mean Welsh pupils will experience different languages in primary school.
As part of reforms to the curriculum, modern foreign languages will be included within ‘international languages’ (also including community languages, classical languages and British Sign Language). These will be taught at an earlier age and there would be clear expectations for their progress while at primary school.
It will be alongside planned changes to the teaching of the Welsh language, which will no longer be separated into first and second language programmes of study. There will be an increased emphasis on improving learners’ skills and use of language.
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Minister for Education, said:
“This marks the most dramatic shift in the way languages are taught in Welsh schools since the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988.
“We want all our learners to be citizens of both Wales and the world and that means ensuring that all young people from all backgrounds have an opportunity to develop their language skills – whether that’s in Welsh, English or international languages.
“We know these changes will take time and that’s why we won’t be taking a big bang approach. We’re committed to giving schools the time and resources they need to adjust. That’s why I recently announced £24 million over and above what already goes into curriculum support.”
Cllr William Powell, President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and a former modern foreign languages teacher, added:
“As a former teacher of French and German myself, I’m well aware of the benefits that early exposure to modern foreign languages can bring. This is a really significant change and one which I warmly welcome.
“Research has consistently shown that experience of languages at primary level can be enriching and unlock an aptitude that could otherwise remain dormant. Wider challenges in our country at this time make this announcement very timely. I wish it every success.''