Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 18 February 2008

English language teaching in Spain - and election fever

With the Spanish national elections coming up next month, increasingly optimistic proposals are being made by both of the two main political parties, the governing Socialists and the opposition Popular Party. Today President (i.e. Prime Minister) Zapatero has come up with a startling idea - basically that young Spaniards need to be able to use English both at a social and professional level to survive in the modern world. And to try and achieve that objective he is proposing that 12,000 part-time native English teachers be hired along with 8,000 English language assistants. The aim is, if he is re-elected, for 15 per cent of all school activity to be conducted in English by the end of the next government's mandate and for all school-leavers to be able to function socially and professionally in English. He also wants to quadruple the numbers of Spanish schoolchildren undertaking exchange visits of upto a month to 200,000 a year - presumably the favoured destinations will be the UK or Ireland (or perhaps non-EU English-speaking nations further afield) if improving English-language skills is part of the objective?

Can I also suggest something completely tongue in cheek? Would it not be a good idea simply to turn over the government of Spain to Gibraltar - in one move they could regain a sacred piece of what they believe to be Spanish territory (and Zapatero could go down in history as a national hero) and if Gibraltarians controlled the levers of power in Spain then they might not object quite so vociferously to being annexed. It shouldn't take readers too long to realise that the last sentence was written under the influence of [at least] two glasses of rather good port.

What incentive will I have to try and improve my Spanish if this policy is taken forward?

PS/ I read this report yesterday in the Spanish-language press, but the English translation in the linked article may be more accessible to most readers.

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