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Foreign Languages

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to increase the teaching of (a) Russian and (b) Chinese. (106318)

While our National Languages Strategy “Languages for All: Languages for Life—a strategy for England” does not promote the teaching of one language above another, the United Kingdom has signed Memoranda of Understanding with both Russia and China to promote the teaching and learning of both languages in schools.

A number of specialist language colleges offer Russian and Chinese. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) also hosts Russian and Chinese Networks.

In addition, the Department for Education and Skills and the Higher Education Funding Council for England are agreed that languages, such as Russian and Chinese, are of strategic importance to the UK and are working together to support initiatives to stimulate demand and increase the supply of languages places at higher education level.

Our national recognition scheme—the Languages Ladder—introduced in September 2005 also offers alternative assessment opportunities for learners of both languages to have their skills recognised.