[Press and Public Relations] Ambassador at Centre of Modern Languages Debate to Speak at Leicester

February 2002

No 38

At the height of a heated national row over the teaching of modern languages in Britain, the German Ambassador who first publicly raised the issue is to give the annual Modern Languages Lecture at the University of Leicester on 21 February.

In an interview in the Independent on Monday 11 February Dr Hans Friedrich von Ploetz, the German Ambassador, with the Marquis de Tamaron and Luigi Amaduzzi, Ambassadors of Spain and Italy, expressed their concern that the European Union could "lose its competitive advantage" if Britain's already precarious hold on multi-lingualism slipped any further.

The national press took up the debate the following day, coinciding with the publication of Estelle Morris's controversial Green Paper on Education, which advocated that modern languages should be dropped as a core subject from the age of 14.

Although the lecture at the University of Leicester, which will be attended by the Councillor John Allen Lord Mayor of Leicester and is open to the public, was arranged before this issue was raised, it will provide opportunities for members of the public to ask the Ambassador questions on this and a variety of other subjects.

This is not the first time the Ambassador has voiced his reservations on language teaching in Britain.   He is a key advocate of using foreign languages to further education and believes that the steady decline in those who have attained any qualification in languages needs to be addressed.  He has expressed concern about the implications of people in the UK not being fully au fait with European languages.

Professor Richard Littlejohns of the School of Modern Languages is responsible for organising this lecture.  

He said: "There is a need for the British to learn languages if they want to be a major player in Europe and beyond."  He added that he was delighted that such a distinguished guest has agreed to speak at the lecture, calling it a 'coup' for the University.

The Ambassador has had a distinguished career, from working in the Embassy in Washington, representing the German delegation in NATO, and now as the German Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The lecture, entitled A Flying Start for Languages, will take place at the University of Leicester in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 3 at 5.30pm, Thursday February 21.

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Professor Littlejohns 0116 252 2681

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 21 February 2002 16:00
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