Northern Ireland risks being left behind because children are not required to learn a second language in primary school (The Conversation)

Mis à jour : 30 Jui 2019 - Lecturer in Modern Languages Education, Queen's University Belfast - In Northern Ireland, learning a second language is not a statutory part of the primary school curriculum. shutterstock

The European Union recommends for every citizen to be able to communicate in two languages in addition to their mother tongue – and makes language learning for primary school children a priority. Children in England Scotland and Wales learn a foreign or indigenous language as part of the curriculum. But Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where primary school pupils do not have to learn another language.

In Northern Ireland, pupils must only learn a language between the ages of 11 and 14 – which is the shortest compulsory phase of language learning in Europe. Even within this age range, the Northern Ireland government does not recommend time for language learning and there is considerable difference from school to school.