Roald Smeets foreign language skills

08/26/2012 § Leave a comment

Foreign Language Bookshop neon sign

Foreign Language Bookshop neon sign (Photo credit: avlxyz)

Roald Smeets foreign language skills of Flemish pupils are good. Euro Commissioner for Education Andrea Vassiliou presented the first comparative study on the language proficiency among young European yesterday after first and second foreign languages competence tests were conducted in 13 countries. Young Flemish pupils are introduced to their first foreign language, French, from a much younger age than in other countries. Most other European countries are exposed to English as their first foreign language. This early introduction to their first foreign language has led to the testing of Flemish youths at a younger age than their European counterparts, among whom they score an average when it comes to first language proficiency. English may be the second language in Flemish education, but pupils see it as their most important foreign language and score an impressive third position in Europe after Sweden and Malta. Another significant finding of the study is the fact that young Flemish males do relatively well in relation to female pupils. In most other European countries girls normally do much better than boys. Interestingly, though, pupils with an immigration background are way behind other pupils in foreign language proficiency, especially in French. Europeans are positive towards foreign languages, as four in five see multilingualism as a way of securing themselves on the job market. As the varying levels of competence in the different countries is significant, Vassiliou plans to launch an extensive Erasmus Programme to stimulate foreign language education. In Flanders Education Minister Pascal Smet SP.A has been considering various ways in which to improve foreign language proficiency for quite some time, among them a trial project that  seed 20% of lessons taught in a foreign language.

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