Elementary school children in Greece are already expected to learn English in addition to their native language. But starting next school year, the Ministry of Education will begin requiring 5th graders to learn a second foreign language. Students will be given a choice of French or German.
A second foreign language currently is not required for students until they attend junior high school, or gymnasio.
In some ways, the government is catching up with a practice that many parents have initiated on their own by sending their children to private foreign-language “learning centers,” says Evangelia Ntalosi, who works in the education office of the Greek Embassy in Washington.
Some education groups in the country, however, are questioning whether the public schools will be able to meet the requirement. And they say that instruction in English is inadequate for children to become proficient in even one foreign language.
Coverage of cultural understanding and international issues in education is supported in part by the Atlantic Philanthropies.
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week