Is English compulsory course in your country?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by twinklestar, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. twinklestar

    twinklestar Senior Member

    English is a compulsory course in China. I wonder whether it is a compulsory course in the courtries where English is not an official language, such as Germany, France.

    And is it ture that most Germans speak English? Thanks!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  2. CoLd_GirL

    CoLd_GirL Member

    Here in Chile... English is a compulsory course in Schools and at least since one year the Universities are making English as a compulsory course in their careers because they know that is very important to learn a new language…
    And it depends of the Schools sometimes…for example I had Italian as a compulsory course in School because my school was founded by an Italian Priest…

    Ps:sorry for my mistakes...=)
  3. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    It is compulsory in Spain too almost from kindergarten.

    Most of those teenagers who leave school at 18 can't speak a word of English, but that is entirely another question.
  4. Vampiro

    Vampiro Senior Member

    Emiratos Árabes
    Chile - Español
    Yes it is in Chile.
    But level is so bad in most of the schools.
    Well… at least you learn how to say “pencil”, and “window”.
    All the best.
  5. Katoussa

    Katoussa Senior Member

    In France it is compulsory. Not necessarily as a first language, you usually can choose between German and English, but if German is our first language, you'll have to take English as your Second language for, at least, two years.

  6. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    It is compulsory in Austria to learn "a" foreign language. This usually is English; and courses begin with primary school.

    But even those schools who do not have English as first foreign language introduce English as a second foreign language later; there are only very few schools where English isn't first foreign language, and I guess none where it isn't at least second foreign language.
  7. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    I think it's more like in Austria. It is compulsory that schools teach a foreign language, which does not have to be specifically English, although in practice it is.
  8. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    I stand corrected.
  9. trance0 Senior Member

    In Slovenia the situation is similar to the situation in Austria. English is taught as a first foreign language in most schools, the exception being perhaps schools along the border, where Italian/Hungarian is taught first or alongside English. German is also taught as a first language instead of English in some primary schools(I have a co-worker whose first foreign language is German; he later underwent an English language course and learnt the basics there).
  10. mirx Banned

    This made me laugh, is exaclty the same in México. After 12 years of studying English, you must consider yourself lucky if you find a highschool graduate that conjugates the verb to be and uses it correctly. A disgrace.
  11. federicoft Senior Member

    It is compulsory in Italy as well (from grade 3 on, at least when I went to school). But as in other countries, it is taught in a very err... mild way.
  12. trance0 Senior Member

    According to my info, inhabitants of the so called "Latin countries" usually have very bad foreign language programs in public schools and the consequences of such policies are of course known. I can say this is certainly true for Italy, where it is almost impossible to find an Italian who speaks at least some basic English. If you go to Italy, you are dead in the water without some basic Italian and English doesn`t get you far, you can actually do better with Slovene, especially close to the borther in Friuli-Giulia.
  13. federicoft Senior Member

    Yes, we don't put too much emphasis on foreign languages teaching, although I think the younger generation do have at least a very basic knowledge of English. As regards the pre-1950 generation, they probably have a better knowledge of French, since that was the first foreign language taught in schools back then.
  14. Cabeza tuna

    Cabeza tuna Senior Member

    Santiago, Chile
    Chilean Spanish & Chilean Coa
    That it is public schools, in privates ones you can find a really good level of english, right now the government is working to give more and better english classes but is not a easy thing I have english teachers than doesn't speak english at all, but they have their degree and all....
  15. Hermocrates Senior Member

    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    Is English compulsory in Italy? Or just any foreign/Europeanlanguage? :confused:

    I'm confused because I attended high school in Italy (liceo scientifico), but I studied French at school, not English (which was great because I am bilingual anyway - however my classmates studied French too, and they didn't speak a word of English. And other students in my school chose to study Spanish, instead of English)

    But then, that was a decade ago, I'm not sure if school in Italy has changed since then.

  16. federicoft Senior Member

    That was true in the past (indeed, until some decades ago the first foreign language was French). Today the only compulsory foreign language is English and, in the most prestigious secondary school type (the liceo) English and Latin - in liceo classico there's also ancient Greek.
    A minority of students in middle school or high school learn French too. Just in a type of liceo specializing in foreign languages (liceo linguistico), students learn a third language (German, Spanish or Russian).
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  17. Hermocrates Senior Member

    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    It makes sense! Thanks for clarifying. I attended a "liceo scientifico" in Italy (I would have loved to attend a "liceo classico" because I wanted to study Greek too, but my parents pretty much forced my choice) and I studied Latin (compulsory) and French (as one of three possible language options - the others were English and Spanish). I graduated in 2000 but I think Italian school was reformed soon after that.

    So now, after reforms, are all students in Italy supposed to study English (no other options available unless they attend a liceo linguistico)? Even if they are native English speakers? Or can native English speakers (attending a liceo) choose a different foreign language to study in school?

    Thanks in advance, I find this really interesting!

  18. trance0 Senior Member

    Well, small contries obviously have the advantage of better foreign language programs in public schools. This is true for Slovenia and probably for most other smaller contries too. In my country most people learn at least two foreign languages in highschools and one(this is due to change soon and two foreign languages will be taught) in elementary school. Most students learn English as a first foreign language, some also German, Italian or other(rarely). In highschools most learn two foreign languages(the second being most often German) and in some highschools(for "turist technician" or "language and classical gymnasiums") three or more foreign languages are obligatory. And beside that most Slovenes have at least basic or passive knowledge of Serbo-Croatian, which means that the majority of Slovenes speaks at least one foreign language actively and have at least passive knowledge of two or three more. The degree of proficiency of course varies as not all schools offer equally demanding foreign language classes.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  19. trance0 Senior Member

    The reason is probably mentality of the general population. I think this is quite typical for inhabitants of larger countries or of countries that have so called "world languages" that are official in their coutries.
  20. Hermocrates Senior Member

    Italian & British English (bilingual)
    By the way: I found this thread from last September

    It may interest you!

  21. miguel64086

    miguel64086 Senior Member

    Iowa, USA
    Chile, but living in USA (Spanish/English)
    I guess it has to do with opportunities to use your second language.
    All movies are subtitled.
    All books translated.
    All of our neighbors (Chile's) speak Spanish (or some Indian tongue, but that's another topic).

    I had the impression that in Europe it was easier to learn a second language because it's easier to use it.
  22. trance0 Senior Member

    Certainly, in Europe it is easier to use foreign languages, plus one has a high number of TV programes in foreign languages and if someone is exposed to them from childhood on, it is much easier to become proficient in those languages later in life.
  23. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    To a certain point you are right. At least it is easier to learn English in some countries because of the media, English-language pop-music etc., and whoever lives a short distance from the next country where they speak a different language. So the smaller the country, the better are your chances of being good at speaking a foriegn language. On top of that some regions are bi-lingual.
  24. mirx Banned

    Finally a reasonable explanaiton as to why we suck at it.
  25. trance0 Senior Member


    Not necessarily. I very rarely travel abroad even though I live in a small country, so most of my foreign language skills originate from learning in school, watching TV and surfing the internet. Bilingual areas are another thing, in Slovenia, for example, it is quite common to find people with near native command of Italian near Italian border.
  26. miguel64086

    miguel64086 Senior Member

    Iowa, USA
    Chile, but living in USA (Spanish/English)
    I guess this also would explain to a certain degree why many people from United States are not bilingual, even though many college student learn foreign languages in their curriculum.
  27. lonelyheartsclubband Member

    Israel, Rishon
    Russian, Hebrew: Israel
    Well, returning to the original topic - In Israel studying English language is compulsory.
    About a decade ago the population started to study it around 5th grade of the primary school, but now it's studied from the 2nd grade.
    I don't think that most of the Israeli people don't know English. On the contrary, you will be able to find people who at least speak basic English.
    On the other hand, the're many people who have good skills in English and they're able to even read books that are originally written in English.
    I would like to emphasize that the language skills are definitly not acquired in schools, but from watching TV, reading books and listening to songs in English, so I doubt if the public education provided by the State influences the quality of languege skills.
  28. trance0 Senior Member

    Public education influences the quality of language skills up to a certain degree. If you know the basics and are properly stimulated for foreign languages in schools, it is easier to learn those languages alone and become fully proficient in them later in life.
  29. mirx Banned

    Fair enough, however in México we have our very big and well developed TV, Internet and music industry, so there is very, and I mean very little opportunity for people to be exposed to foreign languages if they are not purposely trying to. The few English TV programs that we have are already dubbed into Spanish.

    Now, the boarder thing is a different case altogether and people there actually do speak English with perhaps native fluency but then again their TV stations are both in Spanish and in English, they have a lot of contact with US-americans, and maybe they themselves constantly travel up north.

    Now, appart from English being compulsory in schools; globalization is taking its toll and younger generations are way more open to foreign influences, language included.
  30. trance0 Senior Member

    This is precisely what I was implying. The problem with bigger countries is, that they are too self-sufficient regarding languages and these countries` language policies(which are sometimes very nationalistic and "own-language protective") aren`t helping the matter either. In Europe, I think, there was a debate not long ago whether dubbing should be abolished in countries that use it instead of subtitles, because it seems to influence foreign language learning in a negative way. So, a lot of problems can be solved with a proper language policy adapted to each country and with active promoting of foreign language learning!
  31. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    In Sweden, English has been compulsory since 1969 from 3rd or 4th grade (9-10 year-olds) through to 9th grade, and nowadays it is also compulsory in most secondary education programs.

    We are of course helped by our high exposure to English from the media, computing and the internet. We have virtually no dubbing of English programmes, apart from Teletubbies and other pre-school kids' programmes, which saves parents from having to read the subtitles to their children... ;)

    The degree of knowledge is of course very variable, and I recently found that even people of my age, who would presumably have taken at least 6 years of English at school, were barely able to order a lager in a UK pub. I don't blame the school system, though, but rather people's own linguistic interest and talent. Those who want to, can learn reasonably good English at school.

  32. Ry102 Member

    Florida, United States
    American English
    I know here in the U.S. when it comes to foreign language learning, people generally try their best to avoid it. When I tell people that I study Spanish I get some interesting looks or sometimes they tell me how cool that is but they could never do it themselves. I try to tell them that learning a language is fun and satisfying but my efforts are usually futile. When I told people I'm starting to learn German they always become confused because they have no idea why I would learn a language that isn't widely spoken here. Of course, this opens up the whole new topic because people here in the US don't seem to comprehend the possibility of living somewhere outside the US for more than 2 weeks. But more on topic, here in Florida Spanish is the compulsory language but in New Orleans where my mom grew up French was. Now though it has changed to Spanish. I wonder if it will change to Mandarin anytime soon. I would think not though since Spanish is so important to us here.
  33. Mate

    Mate Senior Member

    Castellano - Argentina
    Moderator note:

    Please don't wander too far from the thread topic and keep the discussion focused on the main questions: Is it compulsory to learn English in countries where English is not the official language? Do most Germans speak English?

    If you decide to discuss something tangential, please open a new thread.

    Also try to keep your contributions at least mainly cultural and not personal.

    Thank you.
  34. Lugubert Senior Member

    Mother (now 92) had German as her first foreign language.

    I can't judge to what extent my siblings and their kids are normal or exceptional for Sweden, but all of them are quite comfortable with English and quite a few of them manage one or more other languages. Myself, I had compulsory English from grade 5, German from 7, and French from 8 combined until finishing high school (grade 12).
  35. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    I am surprised some have written English is compulsory. :rolleyes: Just like Sokol has said 1 foreign language is compulsory in the Czech republic but students can choose, and the majority picks up English, but it does not necessary mean English is compulsory.
  36. Egyptlover

    Egyptlover Senior Member

    yes, it's a compulsory course in Egypt from the first grade in elementary school until the last year in high school. Not only that, it's even taught in kindergarten and in university. However, teaching it in first three grades started only a few years ago.
  37. Orlin Banned

    Studying foreign languages is compulsory in Bulgarian schools (I don't know from which grade - it was from the 5th grade 15 years ago, I think that it starts in the 2nd or 3rd grade nowadays), but no foreign language is obligatory: every student must choose what foreign language(s) to study though English has become the most popular recently.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2010
  38. Goddess Mystyxx Member

    Latin City of the South
    English / Chavacano / Spanish
    In the Philippines, most of the subjects are all in English format (Science, Math, History, Arts, Computer etc). From pre-school to graduate school. Young kids can understand, read and speak english fairly well, especially if you live in the city.

    For the indigents (tribesman) and some in the provinces, they usually have limited command in English, but can understand some thought.
  39. Orlin Banned

    I think that only languages that have an official status in the country in question should be compulsory. So I wonder why English can be compulsory in countries where it isn't recognised as official - as far as I know, English isn't official in the Phillipines, is it?
    In my opinion, imposing a compulsory foreign language is usually politically motivated - e. g. Russian was obligatory in Bulgarian schools (also in all ex-communist states in Central and Eastern Europe) in 1945-90.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  40. Goddess Mystyxx Member

    Latin City of the South
    English / Chavacano / Spanish
    I agree orlin. English is not the official language in the Philippines, however, because of English being widely spoken and understood by the rest of the world, It had become the language for education in our country. I think it even became compulsory because we study english grammar from pre-school to college.

    We still have filipino culture and grammar taught at school, though. But the medium of instruction are all in English. I know sometime in our history, americans have lived here for a period of time and that might have been the the start of our english influence.

    I remembered my Lola (grandmother) telling me that her grandparents can speak perfect english, they have learned it during the war, even without going to school.
  41. xmarabout

    xmarabout Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    In the French speaking part of Belgium (so far, Belgium is a bi or tri lingual country: official languages are Dutch, French and German - small minority), in most of the schools they choose the other main official language as second language (Dutch). Some schools propose English as second language. A third language is accessible (secondary school) only if the cursus of the student is specialised in language. For exampple, if they prefer to be specialised in sciences, mathematics, latin, ... usually, there is no time in their timetable for a third language.

    In primary school, a second language is not compulsory (it is a pitty for a bilingual country !) but most of the school offers that option (usually again Dutch or English)
  42. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
    Italians don't learn English because sounds and syntax are so different from ours.
    No matter the number of hours at school and the quality of teachers, most Italian can't do anything to learn English.

    Only a minority of people with a good attitude to languages manages to overcome the wall which divides Romance languages from Anglosaxon ones.
  43. SaritaSarang

    SaritaSarang Senior Member

    English - United States
    In the U.S it is a required class in highschool, usually one class for every year of highschool, so four classes. I've never heard of a school in the U.S where english classes in highschool were optional.
  44. Orlin Banned

    OK but the thread is for countries where English is not an official language. (If it's official, of course it's obligatory.)
  45. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    In Spain it is compulsory .
  46. SaritaSarang

    SaritaSarang Senior Member

    English - United States
    The United States does not have an official language.
  47. jacquesvd Senior Member

    In the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, a second language is compulsory as of the 3rd year. Until shortly this was necessarily French but since a number of years one can choose between English and French, the majority of people continuing to choose French.

    As of secondary school a third language becomes compulsory and it is again French or English; students thus picking the one they didn't choose in primary school. (There exists one direction of studies (business) where also German is taught in the last three years, but no other direction adds a fourth language.

    Even though the vast majority of students choose French in primary school and thus end up with more years of French than English, the knowledge of English is incomparably superior to the one of French in most individuals at the end of secondary school because of the omnipresence of
    English and this situation then gets reinforced in high school, university, professional life.
  48. rayloom

    rayloom Senior Member

    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    In most Arab countries, all public high schools teach a 2nd language. Elementary schools depend on the availability, funds and board of directors, but most public elementary schools don't.
    In Egypt, there's what's called multilanguage elementary schools. Where your kids would have to learn Arabic, English and French at the same time.
    Don't worry, the kids turn out fine!
  49. Ottilie

    Ottilie Senior Member

    Romanian(1st) / Russian (2nd)
    In Moldova English is not compulsory . Russian is the only compulsory foreign language from the 2nd grade to the 9th grade( .The 2nd foreign language can be any of English,German and French.I studied in a small town and in our school that time there were no English teachers,so we had to choose the 2nd language between French and German,we didn't actually chose ,but the headmaster choose for us: half of the students to study French,the other half German-I studied German. In high schools (9th grade to 13th grade) Russian isn't compulsory,but it remains the most taught foreign language.

    There are several foreign language high schools where pupils are all/most of the subjects in foreign languages . Pushkin High school (Russian),Asachi(Romanian and French),Creanga(Romanian and English). In Creanga high school for example,English is compulsory.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010
  50. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    And what will happen to the Chinese children who are rejecting to learn English? Are they shot at sunrise?

    Strictly speaking in the Czech Republic there are no compulsory courses on the grammar/high schools as it is not compulsory to attend such schools.

    However according to law it is compulsory to attend elementary school where children must choose one foreign language (English, German, Russian, French, ...), but it does not necessarily mean that they really learn it. Many of them have even difficulties with the mother tongue.

    So English is not compulsory in the Czechlands. In our country you can live happily without English.

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