New curriculum 'to make languages compulsory from seven'

(England) Learning a foreign language will be compulsory from the age of seven in England's primary schools in an overhaul of the national curriculum, the education secretary is to announce.

Michael Gove will also say later this week that children as young as five will be expected to recite poetry.

There will also be a new focus on spelling and grammar.

The proposals come amid concerns over a decline in pupils taking foreign languages at GCSE.

In 2010, 43% of GCSE pupils were entered for a language, down from a peak of 75% in 2002.

The last Labour government ended compulsory language study for children after the age of 14 in 2004.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said that the "mistake had been not to focus on primary schools first".

He welcomed the government's ideas, saying: "I think it's absolutely right. Children will get a love of languages if they start them young."

Under Mr Gove's plans, primary schools could offer lessons in Mandarin, Latin and Greek, as well as French, German and Spanish.    
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