Question for non-Americans: School languages


  1. What languages are taught in your schools?
  2. At what level are they taught?
  3. What languages are required and what ones are just extra?
  4. What country is this?

In the US at least in our area students start taking Spanish around 7th grade (age 13ish). Our high school has Spanish, Chinese, French, German, and Arabic.

Their is no foreign language requirements for graduation by the government but out school requires 2 years and most kids take more.

In my province - English, Afrikaans, Xhosa are standard, and schools offer other optional languages. Other provinces will vary the Bantu language taught. Some private schools may have other requirements e.g. the German School mandates German.

Kids learn one language as “First Language” all the way to the end of high school, both the others in prep and take one of the two to the end of school, as “secondary language” which means fluency but not as fluent.

The three I mentioned are required, the others like French, Mandarin, Latin etc are optional

South Africa

Long time ago at a school in Northern Germany:

We had to take English from 3rd grade onwards, French, Latin or Russian from 7th grade (in addition to English). The teachers were bilingual or native speakers.

You could also take Spanish, but I seem to remember that as being some kind of voluntary afternoon class which was not graded.

English and Urdu. The various provincial and regional languages are also taught (depending on region ad province) and Farsi and Arabic as well as French

English is typically the medium of instruction and Urdu is taught from first grade, if the school is an English medium school and vice versa if Urdu medium

English and Urdu are required. Depending on province, you might need a regional/provincial language and many places teach Farsi, Arabic and a “European” (meaning almost always French) from 6th grade to 8th grade inclusive.


  1. Our local language or languages, as primaries. Some “special” schools use a foreign language as primaries but must still have lessons in the local language(s); for example, the German School in Barcelona teaches most lessons in German but must still include lessons about Spanish and Catalan grammar and literature if they want their degrees to be valid.

Tracks are separated by language starting in preschool. If you’re in a bilingual area (Galicia with Galego; Euskadi and northern Navarre with Basque; Catalonia and the Balearic Islands with Catalan; Pais Valenciano with Valenciano), you can choose to treat both languages as primaries, or one as primary and the other one as secondary. Different schools will have different options available.

If any other region ever decides that they’re officially bilingual (let’s say Asturias decides to recognize Bable as an official language, for example, or someone decides to include the local sign language as official), they will have to set up those same options.

Languages you may get as secondaries: English is part of the national curriculum. ESO (6th to 10th grade) options have to include the possibility of taking a second foreign language, but many schools offer other languages earlier; my nephew (5th grade) was pretty mad because due to a change in their school’s curriculum, him and his sister (2nd grade) are starting French at the same time. They will later have Italian, German and Latin available (Latin isn’t quite the same as the “living languages”, it’s taught for other reasons and part of a different pack of options). There has been talk of trying to offer Chinese or Arabic, but the problem is in finding qualified teachers for either.

  1. In theory, or in reality? In theory, by the time you leave college-track HS (not vocational tracks) you should be at least at the B1 level in English. Other languages will vary by local and school curriculum. In reality that means most college-track people will be much more comfortable using written than spoken English, and non-college-track ones are likely to just freeze.

  2. See 1.

  3. Spain.

  1. What languages are taught in your schools?

All secondary schools have Dutch and English. Usually, Spanish and German are also available.

  1. At what level are they taught?

Dutch: first lessons in kindergarten, around age 3-4.
English: usually starts around age 14. It was 12 in my days. Too late in my opinion.
Spanish and German: around age 16 and only if you take the “Language Option”. Otherwise, it’s Dutch and English only.

  1. What languages are required and what ones are just extra?

As I said above, there’s no escaping Dutch and English. Spanish and German are extras.

  1. What country is this?


It was a bit different in the 80s.

First, I only started learning “foreign” languages in primary school (age 10) and I had the choice between Dutch and German, probably due to the fact that I grew up in a town that was very close to the tiny German-speaking region of Belgium (and more imortantly, to Germany proper). I picked German.

Then, I started English in my first year of secondary school, along with German. My year was a test year. After that, the authorities moved back the first English course to the third year (age 14).

All in all, I only took Dutch for one year, which is very unusual in Belgium and only because I chose the “Language Option”. This would be impossible nowadays. Not that I have any regrets. I’m glad I studied German for 8 years.

At University level, the choices broaden considerably. Dutch and English are the most popular but you can more or less easily take classes in Spanish, German, Italian, Russian and Arabic. Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Turkish, Chinese and Japanese are also available but in more specialized studies.

1. What languages are taught in your schools?

English and French. There are several variants on how they are taught. There can be a school where English is the usual language of instruction and French is a secondary language. Or, there are immersion schools, for anglophone kids, where all instruction is in French. Or, there are French schools, for francophone kids, where all instruction is in French.

And it all flips the other way in Quebec, where French is the primary language, but there are English schools for the anglophone kids.

2. At what level are they taught?

In schools where English is the normal language of instruction, I think French begins around Grade 6 or so, but I’m not sure.

In immersion schools, everything is in French from the start, and then English is introduced as a separate subject around Grade 3 or so.

In French schools, everything is in French from the start, and then English is introduced as a separate subject at some point.

3. What languages are required and what ones are just extra?

When I went to school, in an English school, there were three years required for French, from Grades 7 to 9. After that it was an elective. I assume it’s still somewhat similar. In larger schools, there may be the option for other languages in the high school.

4. What country is this?

Canada. Since Education is provincial matter, there can be considerable variation from province to province on the details of the curriculum, but the right of the linguistic minority in a province to be educated in their own language is constitutionally guaranteed. That works out to French minority language schools for francophone kids in all provinces but Quebec, and English minority language schools for anglophone kids in Quebec.

Why French? why not Spanish, which has a much broader reach world-wide?

This from my experience at an all-girl’s private school in England.

  1. What languages are taught in your schools?
    French, German, Spanish, Latin, Greek, and some Russian/Mandarin by special arrangement.

  2. At what level are they taught?
    I took French from the age of 7, and it was compulsory at senior school from age 11-16.
    We were then required to take a second language (any of the above) for 3-4 years.

  3. What languages are required and what ones are just extra?
    French was required.

  4. What country is this?

I suspect a hangover from British colonial rule. Spanish has never played a major role in British education systems. French was the language of culture and diplomacy.

SanVito has it. During the Raj, French was compulsory in secondary education onwards, and because of that it meant that there was already a lot of trained teachers available, not for Spanish, German or the other languages.

Its use and teaching is much restricted now, depending on the province, it went from French is mandatory, to a European language is mandatory to, its optional, to you can choose between a language or a technical subject.
At one time, knowledge of French was mandatory for many professions, like the military or the civil service, my Dad had to pass a French exam when he sat for the entry tests for the Military Academy in the late 1960’s, no longer the case even a few years later.

Missed Edit: Plus, its not like they exactly make them into (or even read) Victor Hugo; heres a sample of a 10th grade French exam from my local board.

  1. Two languages were mandatory: English+another (German or Italian or Spanish). Plus Greek or Latin.
  2. Greek or Latin were just at the level where you could translate a simple text with a dictionary. Other to fluent level.
  3. Many people would more or less drop one of the languages and end up learning only English.
  4. France, 20 years ago.

As an example of how widely provinces can vary in Canada, I am in New Brunswick. We used to have early immersion for the English kids where French would start in grade 1. When my daughter started kindergarten 6 years ago the early immersion was changed to begin in grade 3. In the immersion program 80% of the instruction is in French and 20% in English each day.

There is also an intensive French program that lasts for 5 months in grade 5. It concentrates on teaching the language but does not teach school subjects. In grade 6 students then have the option to continue in French immersion or to switch back to an English curriculum but will include a French class.

Got to ask, when learning english is it closer to UK english, Indian english, or American/Canadian english?

Also lets say a Pakistani had to business with a person of your neighboring countries like Afghanistan, India, or Iran. What language would you use?

Moderator Action

Since this is basically a poll, off to IMHO it goes.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

I am surprised by the total lack of mention of French anywhere in your post.

Pakistani English.

Those damn foreigners better speak English.:D;)

I thought this thread was about foreign languages? French is taught of course but as the mother tongue.

Perhaps I’m missing something? :confused:

ETA: this is true for the French-speaking part of Belgium, not Flanders where the languages are reversed. Perhaps that’s what you were after…

  1. What languages are taught in your school?

English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Latin, Greek (Russian and Japanese occasionally)

  1. At what level are they taught?

from age 11-18 (depending if the student intends to study them at University)

  1. What languages are required and what ones are just extra?

One of either French or German is compulsory from age 11-15.
Latin is taught 11-13.

  1. What country is this?

England (private school)