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STAFF REPORTER IN an attempt to upgrade the use of both spoken and written English in the region, the Balearic Ministry for Education has agreed to 104 schools and colleges around the islands having one subject of the academic year's curriculum taught in English.

The new agenda will come into operation this coming term which starts in the middle of September and is an alternative strategy to the Trilingual Plan which the previous Partido Partido government wanted to introduce meaning that a third of the teaching practice in Balearic schools would have had to have been undertaken in the English language, regardless of the subject being taught.

Maria Gener, Educational Administration director said yesterday that of the 104 school centres, 41 are state-assisted and 63 are public (30 secondary and 33 primary). Amongst the subjects where English will be used for teaching are Technology, Music and even Mathematics in secondary education. In primary schools, teaching in English will be used for Physical Education, Music and Creative Arts such as modelling figures.

The new language teaching will be introduced gradually but there are other plans afoot to upgrade the use and understanding of English, including an obligation in the coming school year for all youngsters aged five in the final year of Infant school to learn English, without exception. Gener explained that up until now schools were able to choose whether or not its five-year-olds should be introduced to a foreign language but as of the 2008-2009 academic year, all children of this age will be studying it on an ongoing basis. In secondary schools, the number of hours per week when English will be studied will increase on a compulsory basis from three to four. Summer camps for children where all activities will be carried out in English are another strategy.

Schools are not going to use English teachers for the third language programme but rather the existing teachers will need to undergo extra intensive training in English, forseeably a 250 hour programme to impart knowledge of their own subject in another language. Native English speakers will however, be drafted in to improve conversation and oral comprehension.