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German Ambassador Highlights Importance of Language

Delivering the annual Modern Languages Lecture at the University of Leicester on 21 February, the German Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dr Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, argued that British education needs urgently to place greater emphasis on language learning.  Otherwise, so the Ambassador told a packed audience, Britain ran the risk of being isolated in an English-speaking community and losing its cultural and commercial contacts with an increasingly united Europe.  Despite the importance of English as the means of communication in technical and academic areas, it remained vital to have a command of foreign languages for business and social purposes.  “British graduates without languages will lose out in job applications”, he said, “when competing with graduates in other European countries who are now fluent in two or more foreign languages”.

Dr von Ploetz has been active since his appointment as Ambassador to London in a campaign to raise awareness about language learning in Britain, and in recent weeks he has been prominent in the public debate about the government’s Green Paper on the national curriculum.  Along with the French, Italian and Spanish Ambassadors he has supported the government’s aim of introducing languages throughout British primary schools, but he has also pointed out that it cannot succeed without real commitment and a massive injection of resources.  In Leicester he announced that the German government had made an offer of partnership with the British government to promote language teaching.  “We are proposing a joint effort,” he said.  Five hundred teachers from Germany could be seconded to Britain to teach German whilst five hundred English teachers would be welcomed in Germany.

The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session.  Taking up the spirit of the Ambassador’s remarks, Professor Richard Littlejohns of the School of Modern Languages moved a vote of thanks in German.  The Ambassador’s visit was rounded off by a dinner at Knighton Hall hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess.

Professor Richard Littlejohns
February 2002

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Last updated: 13 February 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall

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