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.”

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  1. I so totally agree with this. I came to live in Spain with zero knowledge of the language, and I really wish that language teaching when I was at school had started earlier and been better. Foreign languages should be compulsory at an age when they’re relatively easy to learn.

  2. I’m in my sixties and only learnt a little French in school, having lived in Germany, France and Spain I have had to teach myself oh how I wish English schools had been better at teaching a foreign language. People don’t realise how enriching learning a foreign language can be.

  3. i agree the British Not just the English are very backward at learning languages simply because English is a world Language and the British expects people from other countries to be able to speak Engish another problem i find is that when i go into a shop or whatever in Ghent near to where i live in Belgium and speak Dutch/Flemish to the assistants they Nearly always reply in English which does not help mind you i do have a Welsh accent as i am Welsh.

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