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