Don’t learn English, it is too easy.

I think the hot summer and the paprika is affecting the thought processes of Hungarian educators. The government there wants to stop teaching English as the first foreign language, and instead impose some other foreign languages with more structure, which they think will be harder to learn, and therefore help Hungarians become more multilingual.

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal,

“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 draft bill 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.???

In my view, a language is only hard to learn if we are not interested in learning it. If most people want to learn English, why not let them. Once they have one foreign language under their belt, the next one, if they are motivated, will be easier.

As the article points out, “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.”

With thinking like this from the education ministry, these dismal numbers are not surprising. The key to success in language learning is motivation, not coercion, everywhere else, and probably in Hungary too.

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