SCHOOLS could see a return to foreign languages on the curriculum.
And nurturing the love of learning another spoken language could put youngsters streets ahead educationally, according to experts.
Education secretary Michael Gove’s national curriculum review could include a return to a compulsory GCSE in a modern foreign language.
The requirement for all teenagers to choose a language in year 10 ended in 2004 under the last Labour government.
That decision led to a huge fall in the number of students studying subjects such as French or German.
But Mr Gove has now suggested that he may decide to include a modern foreign language in his core subjects along with English, maths, science and PE.
Indeed the government’s latest educational benchmark, the English Baccalaureate, includes English, maths, science, a modern foreign language, and either history or geography.
So children at Hawthorn’s Day Nursery in Skelmanthorpe are being given a head start with their Spanish lessons under the watchful eye of mum-of-two and linguist Rosey James.
Rosey, who has lived in Spain for around four years, has been teaching children at the nursery since September last year, with fantastic results.
She said: “We do lots of nursery rhymes, play games such as Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and sometimes go outside.
“I speak in Spanish the whole time – I leave the room then come back in and only speak Spanish then for half an hour.
“It’s easier that way with youngsters rather than adults, they just soak it up rather than learn it.
“I’m not expecting to produce linguists, but just want to give the children an understanding that there are other languages and that it is possible to communicate with people from other countries and cultures by using their language instead of ours.
“Hopefully it is kindling an interest in other words and other sounds and hopefully the children will go on to express an interest in learning another language at school.
“Some of the parents have told me that their children go home and sing some of the songs – and some of them have even been speaking some of the words when they go on holiday to Spain. So it’s definitely worthwhile.”
Nursery managers Rebekah Clee and Zoe Barrow have been delighted by the feedback prompted by the sessions.
Rebekah said: “We did it as a trial initially, but its been really successful and we’ve had some really good feedback from parents about how the children are enjoying it.”
At Almondbury High School and Language College, modern foreign languages are thriving with the school bucking the national trend.
Every pupil takes at least one GCSE in a modern foreign language and many take two.
The college teaches French, German and Spanish as part of the curriculum, but it also teaches other less traditional languages such as Mandarin, Italian and Urdu.
Sandra Quarmby, associate assistant headteacher, said it had also had pupils getting GCSE Arabic as well as Mandarin, Chinese and Japanese in the past.
Almondbury also runs a successful programme where its modern foreign language staff, which includes foreign language staff from as far afield as Columbia, teach languages in the feeder primary schools.
In 2009 the school received the British Council International School Award for a second time.
The award ensures that the school will continue to be an international school until 2012.