The National Languages Strategy
Lisbon, November 2006
A different context, a different focus
English: the language of international communication
Therefore different issues concerning the national
Problems of monoglots in a multilingual world
A strategy for foreign languages needed
National Strategies in England
• Began with Literacy and Numeracy in primary schools
Now in secondary schools too
Other areas of the curriculum now covered
Each strategy has a Framework of objectives
Developed through pilots with independent evaluation
Disseminated through networks
National Strategy for Languages
• Operates on similar principles to other strategies
• Has its own Frameworks
• Covers all ages and stages of education and training:
schools, further, adult and university education
(including teacher training)
Foreign languages in England: some
problems (schools)
• Motivation: English as a lingua franca = ‘English is
Standards often too low (particularly in speaking skills)
Time allocation often insufficient: partly accounts for
low standards
Boys achieve less than girls; less likely to opt for MFL
Take-up of the second MFL usually low
Many opt out of MFL at the age of 16
Emergence of the Strategy for England
1990s Concern in the field (language associations, business etc)
2000 Nuffield Enquiry (independent) report
2001-2002 Languages National Steering Group:
Teachers (primary, secondary, further education) and Teacher Trainers
Inspectors and Advisers
Local authorities
Professional Associations
Business and Employers
Ministries (DfES, Foreign Office, Trade and Industry)
Public bodies (CILT, British Council, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; Teacher Training Agency)
2002 Public Consultation on proposals
18 December 2002 Publication of the Strategy for England ‘Languages for all; Languages for
Languages for All: Languages for Life:
A Strategy for England
The government’s view
‘For too long we have failed to value language skills or
recognise the contribution they make to society, to the
economy and to raising standards in schools. This has
led to a cycle of national underperformance in
languages, a shortage of teachers, low take-up of
languages beyond schooling and a workforce unable
to meet the demands of a globalised economy’.
Foreword to NLS
‘Changing the country's attitude to teaching and
learning languages will demand a huge cultural
change. It will rely on action from government,
schools, local education authorities, colleges,
universities, employers, parents and learners.
Partnership is the key to making this strategy a
Languages for All: Languages for Life
Three overarching objectives:
1. To improve teaching and learning of languages
2. To introduce a recognition system
To increase the numbers of people studying
languages in further and higher education and
work-based learning
Improve teaching and learning of
Primary focus
Curricular innovation (KS2 Framework)
Developing workforce and infrastructure
Raising standards in secondary
Curricular innovation (KS3 Framework)
CPD and networks
Support and coherence
The Languages Ladder
Promotion and encouragement to all learners
Primary Entitlement
‘Every child should have the opportunity throughout Key
Stage 2 to study a foreign language and develop their
interest in the culture of other nations. (…) By age 11 they
should have the opportunity to reach a recognised level of
competence on the Common European Framework and for
that achievement to be recognised through a national
Our aims for primary languages
Supporting the workforce
6000 new primary teachers with a language
18 000 existing teachers offered CPD
9000 teaching assistants trained in languages
More Foreign Language Assistants
Networks and liaison
• Language Colleges (LCs)
• Local authorities, higher education, LCs and Comenius
Centres working together
• Languages Ladder
• Key Stage 2 Framework ----Key Stage 3
Key Stage 2 MFL Framework
Five strands
• Oracy
• Literacy
• Intercultural understanding
• Knowledge about language
• Language learning strategies
Secondary: Language colleges (LC)
• Not élitist specialist institutions
• Mainstream secondary schools
• Operate the full National Curriculum
• Apply for government funding for enhanced MFL
Some Language College initiatives
• Diversification e.g. Italian, Russian; Arabic, Chinese,
Japanese; Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu
‘Fast tracking’ of able pupils
Investment in ICT
Visits abroad including work experience
Choice of vocational courses with languages
Links with business
Access to native speakers
Promoting a FL for all pupils until the age of 18
Secondary – Progress to date
Language colleges
225+ operational
KS3 Framework
Key Stage 3 MFL Framework – positive impact on
attitudes and achievement .
‘Languages Work’ materials launched in 2004
Teacher support
CILT CPD and regional networks
ICT support programmes for secondary teachers
New approaches - e.g. CLIL, Vocational
School and Teacher
Partnerships and exchanges with various
countries – including France, Spain, Germany,
Russia, China and Japan – in association with the
British Council
A new paradigm
KS3 Framework
KS2 Framework
Introduce a recognition system
• A ‘Languages Ladder’ with six stages
• Recognises short-term achievement but provides
• Assessment in any or all of the four skills
• Linked to the Common European Framework of
Reference (CEFR) levels
• For use with learners of any age
The Languages Ladder (Asset Languages)
Languages Ladder Stages
CEFR approx.
Breakthrough: grade 1-3
Preliminary: grades 4-6
A1 (A2)
A2 ( B1)
Intermediate: grades 7-9
Advanced: grades 10-12
Proficiency: grades 13-15
grades 16 - 17
Multilingualism: the wider curricular case
• [our strategy] ‘is about the broader curriculum –
about understanding language and identity, about
developing an international outlook, and about
learning. It is about inclusiveness and opportunities
for all of our children. It is about the kind of people
they will become and the kind of world in which
they will live.’
(Andrew Adonis, 2005)
Multilingualism in England
‘ Languages contribute to the cultural and linguistic
richness of our society, to personal fulfilment, mutual
understanding, commercial success and international
trade and global citizenship.’ (NLS foreword, 2002)
N.B. Any language can be a National Curriculum
Multilingualism and the Languages Ladder
Autumn 2005
First 3 stages in 8 languages :
Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Panjabi, Spanish, Urdu
Autumn 2006
15 additional languages:
Arabic, Bengali, Gaeilge/Irish, Gujarati, Hindi, Modern Greek, Polish,
Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Swedish, Tamil, Turkish, Welsh, Yoruba
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Strategy
• National Director for Languages
• Published targets
• Annual Reports from public bodies (e.g. Qualifications and
Assessment Authority)
Annual reporting by inspectors (HMI)
Piloting of the Languages Ladder
Baseline research of MFL in Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11)
Commissioned evaluations of specific projects (e.g. CLIL)
Financial accountability (Investment 2005-2008 = £115M GBP)
• An English Strategy for an English problem
• A different context but a shared commitment to
Some references
MFL - modern foreign languages
Key Stage 2 (KS2) – the age range 7-11
Key Stage 3 (KS3) – the age range 11-14
DfES – Department for Education and Skills
CILT – Centre for Information on Language Teaching
CPD – Continuing Professional Development