By Wendy Williams
BRITISH children are being left behind by their European peers when it comes to foreign languages.
A major new survey by the European Commission has revealed 90 per cent of 14 and 15-year-olds are unable to communicate their personal interests, experiences and ambitions in a foreign language.
Meanwhile around 80 per cent still struggle with the basics, such as ordering in a restaurant.
It comes as growing numbers of pupils in other countries – including Spain – are learning a foreign language at an earlier age.
At least 11 countries have lowered the age for learning a second language in the past decade, with Spain and Belgium actually introducing the subject for pupils as young as three.
Meanwhile the UK is playing catch up with plans to make foreign languages compulsory in primary schools from age seven in September 2014.
The first bilingual state primary school in England – St Paul’s in Brighton – was also launched last September.
Children in two school years are taught PE, art and music in Spanish and youngsters from nursery through to Year 6 are given weekly Spanish lessons.
The 235-pupil school chose Spanish because it was the language its pupils were most likely to come across on their holidays.
“We’re one of the worst countries in the world for speaking foreign languages,” said head teacher Linda Dupret.
“We’re doing the pupils a disservice if we don’t teach them another language.”