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September 30, 2013

Slovakia: Obligatory English education may end

sk.pngThe Slovakian government plans a "step back" in its ELT program for primary school students, reports The Slovak Spectator.

English language classes may no longer be compulsory for third grade primary school pupils, who instead would choose from six foreign languages, if the Education Ministry’s new national curriculum scheme goes through.

Compulsory English was introduced by previous education minister Eugen Jurzyca, who calls the move planned by his successor Dušan Čaplovič a “step back”. According to the draft curriculum scheme by the ministry’s National Institute for Education (ŠPÚ), students will no longer be obliged to learn two foreign languages by the time they reach the fifth grade. The plan is now under inter-departmental review.

At present, all students begin learning English in the third grade and another foreign language is added in the fifth grade. Under the new plan, a second foreign language will be optional. If a pupil willing to study a second foreign language takes English as his first language, he may choose from other languages. In cases when the pupil does not, English as a second foreign language is compulsory from the fifth grade. Schools can teach English, German, French, Russian, Spanish and Italian as the first, obligatory foreign language.

The ministry reasons that Slovakia lacks good quality English language teachers and argues that some children are not able to properly learn two foreign languages simultaneously from the fifth grade. The ŠPÚ is also trying to follow European Commission and Council of Europe recommendations to offer a variety of languages to pupils, while preserving the quality of education, according to ŠPÚ director Viliam Kratochvíl.

Read the full article from The Slovak Spectator.

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