Spanish Prime Minister announces plans to develop English education in SpainCourtesy of Edward J. Cunningham
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By h.b. - Feb 19, 2008 - 2:41 PM
Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero - Photo EFE
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero set a ten year target for students to dominate what the Spanish often refer to as 'the language of Shakespeare'
The Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has unveiled ambitious new plans for the teaching of English in Spain. He has given an undertaking that 15% of total classes given in Spanish schools will be in English within four years, with the intention that children who pass through the Spanish education system will be bilingual and dominate the language in ten years.
For the plan to be put into action some 12,000 native English teachers are to be employed, together with a further 8,000 native teachers assistants. 20,000 Spanish teachers of English will meanwhile be given a month’s course in an English speaking country.
Speaking at an institute in Fuenlabrada, Madrid, the Prime Minister said that Spain needed the move to complete economically, and that Spanish youngsters would benefit by being able to compete professionally.
‘There are families who can easily pay for their children to travel or study abroad’, he said, ‘but our priority is for those who cannot’.
This story from last year is reminiscent of plans by France's Sarközy (de Nagy-Bocsa) to boost English teaching at French public schools. Zapatero's desire for Spanish children to become fluent in English highlights the spread of English in Europe, a region where French used to be dominant in the second and third language slots but is now increasingly losing out to English in spite of stiff resistance from French institutions and the French government's funding of Lycées Français and Instituts Français throughout the European Union. On the other hand, the kind of Spanglish used in this article would suggest that the Spanish still have some work ahead of them before they can compete with the likes of the Swedes, let alone English native speakers on the global marketplace.