Govt working paper says English too easy for Hungarian students

Parliament

Hungary’s government wants to relegate English as the most common foreign language taught in Hungarian schools, because it is too easy of a language to learn, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“It is fortunate if the first foreign language learned is not English. The initial, very quick and spectacular successes of English learning may evoke the false image in students that learning any foreign language is that simple,” reads a government working paper obtained by news website Origo.hu that would amend Hungary’s education laws.

Instead, the ministry department in charge of education would prefer if students chose languages "with a fixed, structured grammatical system, the learning of which presents a balanced workload, such as neo-Latin languages.”

Hungary’s government is attempting to make substantial changes to how foreign languages are taught in schools, WSJ continues. The strategy in drafting stipulates that advanced, eight-grade high schools would have to teach three languages, while a language exam would be a prerequisite of applying for university- or college-level education.

The Education Ministry later dismissed the report in a statement and said the government was not planning to relegate English as a foreign language in schools. The statement said English will continue to be a "basic requirement" in school curricula in the new education law.

A Eurostat survey from 2009 found that 74.8% of Hungarians aged 25 to 64 don’t speak any foreign languages whatsoever. Only 6% of respondents said they speak a second language fluently, which places Hungary at the bottom ranks of the European Union table. In comparison, only 5% of Swedes speak no other language but their native tongue.

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