Following last week’s news that the primary school curriculum is to be changed to make a second language compulsory from age seven, a new study says British children are behind in languages by age three.

The study was completed by language experts, who revealed that English-speaking countries devote the least amount of time to foreign-language learning. Language learning in primary schools is voluntary in English-speaking countries including England, Australia and the US.

But the report also said: “There are greater challenges in implementing primary languages for policy makers in English-speaking countries than there are in the rest of the world.”

In English-speaking countries, it adds, “there is no one language which everyone wants to learn”.

It is also often argued in the UK that learning another language is unnecessary because English is the universal language of business. However, the report concludes: “The assumption that English speakers do not need to learn other languages because others are learning ours is damaging to our economy.”

The report does not come up with an optimum age for learning a foreign language but says an early start is essential. “Unless language learning starts early, it is argued, learners will be unable to take advantage of the natural capacity young children have to acquire language instinctively,” it says. (Source: The Independent)

When did you start learning languages? Do you wish you’d got a head start in primary school?