Which language to teach
The first decision is whether to teach a foreign or second language at all. Assuming that this is seen as desirable, there is competition in a crowded curriculum for other school subjects. Language politics and education politics may play a role in shaping the curriculum. The following may factor into decisions:
- Traditions within the country (it is easier to continue a policy than to do something than to change it).
- The ability to hire teachers who can teach that language - particularly needed if a teacher moves on and needs replacing.
- The availability of appropriate materials and examinations to support language learning.
- The desire to teach national minority languages, particularly if there is a local identity (e.g. Basque, Welsh, etc)
- The prestige associated with a particular language.
- The utility of a particular language.
Given the above, the following generally holds true today:
- In most non-English speaking countries, English is usually seen as the primary second language (points 1,2,3,5 and 6 above)
- In bilingual or multilingual countries, (e.g. Canada, Switzerland) the other national language(s) is/are usually taught
- In border regions, often the language of the neighbouring country is usually taught (e.g. French in the Ruhr Region of Germany).
See also: Which language to learn.