The Right Honourable Nadhim Zahawi MP, who was appointed Secretary of State for Education on 15 September 2021, has just announced that Spanish classes will be obligatory in all state schools for children in secondary school in the UK starting from the academic year 2022-2023.
He said that the UK realised that it had a bad image in Europe because of the low percentage of British citizens who attain a competent level in a second language. He went on to say that his mission and that of the government and educational system was to align Britain with other European countries that have strong second and third language educational programmes.
Teenagers will be expected to attain a B2 level in the official DELE examination.
Up to now, French has traditionally been the language of choice in state schools due to the close links with its European neighbour. Queen Elisabeth II is in fact a fluent speaker, and even Boris Johnson can get by in the language.
However, in an official government survey of over 1000 children who had visited Spain on holiday in the last 5 years, 99% said that they would prefer to learn Spanish rather than French, as it seemed “more fun, easier and more useful”, and “the weather is better.”
Despite Brexit, and due to future demand, Spanish second language teachers will be given priority for work and residency permits as well as fast track settled status, especially if they also have a good level of English, drink tea and like the British Royal Family.
In terms of international relations, The UK has realised that because it’s no longer part of Europe, learning foreign languages is more important than ever. It is expected that future British foreign ministers and businesspeople will be able to discuss trade and business matters in Spanish with their counterparts.
Finally, it is also hoped that this new language policy will bring the two countries closer together, and that this positive educational gesture will move focus away from the boring Gibraltarian sovereignty issue.
1st April 2022