HC Deb 21 March 1929 vol 226 cc1835-6
18. Sir R. THOMAS

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will set up a committee of his Department to report upon means of encouraging the study of the foreign languages most used in commerce, with a view to reducing the number of alien immigrants into this country who take the positions which might be occupied by British subjects if they had a sufficient knowledge of foreign languages?

20. Mr. HARRIS

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is doing anything to promote the study of foreign languages in schools; whether he is satisfied that the facilities provided are adequate to meet the requirements; whether there are sufficient teachers with language qualifications to give proper instruction; and, if not, will he consider offering travelling scholarships or other inducements to encourage persons qualifying to be teachers to be able to teach French, German, and Spanish, so as to enable young people entering the commercial and export trade to communicate with foreign countries in the appropriate language?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Lord Eustace Percy)

An inquiry into the teaching of French in secondary schools was conducted three years ago and a report published. Similar inquiries into German and Spanish are now in progress. The Committee on Education for Salesmanship has suggested, and I have accepted the suggestion, that the Board should institute a further and more comprehensive inquiry. I am at present considering with the Committee the form which the inquiry should take and its general scope and purpose. The particular points raised by the hon. Members will receive careful attention in connection with the inquiry.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his reply. Is he aware that there are hundreds of clerks in this country, men of high character, who are out of employment, and who could get employment on a very remunerative basis, not only in this country, but abroad, if they had a knowledge of foreign languages; and will he therefore at an early date expedite the operation of this Committee?


Has the right hon. Gentleman any information that there is any scarcity in this country of people with a sufficient knowledge of foreign languages who are capable of taking up these posts?


I am very fully impressed with the importance of this question. It is more a question of the quality of the teaching of the language than of the number of people who learn it, and I must honestly inform the hon. Baronet that I also know a good many cases of men who are highly qualified in foreign languages who cannot get employment.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Will the Noble Lord inquire into the possible use of gramophones to assist in the teaching of languages?


Is the Noble Lord aware that there are to-day, to my knowledge, at least a dozen posts on the Continent open to British people if they knew French and German?

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Cannot I have an answer to my question?