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UK schools are turning to foreign governments to fund languages

UK schools are turning to foreign governments to fund languages

In Holly class, Matilda, aged six, calls the register. “Ciao, Tyler,” she says. “Presente,” he replies. “Ciao, Arthur,” she says next. “Ciao, Maestra Matilda,” he says. The class collapses into giggles: Matilda is taking the register as part of today’s Italian lesson. Her teacher, Stefania Cellini, helps the children count aloud to check everyone is there. Even though these year 1 pupils are only five or six, they easily count to 28 in Italian. “You are all bravissimi,” Cellini says.

 

If there’s sports day, Sats or a school trip, languages are the first thing to go

This language lesson is not a one‑off. Here at John Rankin infant and junior schools, in Newbury, Berkshire, all pupils receive one hour’s Italian teaching a week, starting in year 1, funded not by the UK, but by the Italian government.

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