Education secretary Michael Gove has claimed that every child aged five or over should learn a foreign language.
Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Gove told people seeking teaching jobs
and others that almost every other foreign country teaches a foreign language from that age.
Mr Gove insisted that the UK ought to set itself the same ambition, adding that he would "pull every leaver" to ensure this happens.
"The number of pupils sitting a language GCSE plummeted from 444,700 in the summer of 1998 to 273,000 in 2010," the education secretary remarked.
"Learning a foreign language, and the culture that goes with it, is one of the most useful things we can do to broaden the empathy and imaginative sympathy and cultural outlook of children."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, hailed the proposal, but observed that many primary schools are already providing a language learning experience.
She also said that this teaching must be provided by qualified teachers.