A chance to climb the language ladder

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



(2004), "A chance to climb the language ladder", Education + Training, Vol. 46 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/et.2004.00446eab.007



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

A chance to climb the language ladder

A chance to climb the language ladder

The Government has announced a new way that people of all ages can get recognition for their language skills. The National Recognition Scheme, otherwise known as the Language Ladder, will offer an alternative route for language learners to have their skills recognized.

The Department for Education and Skills has commissioned the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) to develop an assessment scheme that will enable people of all ages, from seven-year-olds to adults, to get credit for their language skills. People who choose to take part will be assessed on listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in their chosen language. They will get recognition at a number of stages, depending on their ability, ranging from “breakthrough” to “mastery”.

Pilot schemes will operate in a range of locations, yet to be decided. They will take place across all stages of education – primary, secondary, further, higher, and adult – from September, in French, German and Spanish. The scheme will become available nationally in 2005. Higher-education institutions, further-education colleges, adult-education centres and schools can elect to participate in the scheme on a voluntary basis.

The Language Ladder has been developed from the Government’s National Languages Strategy, which called for such a scheme of recognition for those who speak a foreign language.

Schools Minister Stephen Twigg said: “The Language Ladder is an exciting and innovative way to recognize people’s ability to learn a language. It should encourage pupils as it will enable them to show real progress as they develop.

“Languages are important for so many reasons. They help people’s employment prospects and their knowledge of the world, supporting global citizenship by breaking down cultural barriers. In today’s global economy we need a good knowledge of languages in this country to prosper.

“The younger that people start learning a language, the easier it can become, which is why we want every Key Stage 2 pupil in the country to have the opportunity to study a foreign language by 2010. The Languages Ladder should help fulfil that aim.”

Following the pilot schemes, the Language Ladder will next year be extended to cover a further five languages – Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Punjabi and Urdu. The following year, a further 13 languages will be added – Arabic, Bengali, Gaelic/Irish, Gujerati, Hindi, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Swedish, Turkish and Welsh.

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