Iran Bans the Teaching of English to Elementary School Students

Teaching English was banned in primary school classes in Iran after Iranian Revolution leader Ali Khamenei’s decision to consider the practice as promoting a Western “cultural invasion”.

“The teaching of English in public and non-public primary schools of the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” said Mehdi Navid-Adham, chairman of the High Education Council, on Iranian television Saturday. “This is based on the assumption that schoolchildren acquire the fundamentals of Iranian culture during primary education,” he said.

Teaching English generally starts in middle school when pupils are around a 12 years old, but some primary schools also offer the learning of this foreign language. Some students also take classes in private institutes after their school day to improve their command of foreign languages.

Many children from privileged families are enrolled in non-public institutions where they learn English from kindergarten to high school.

Iranian clerics have frequently warned of the danger of what they call “cultural invasion”. Ali Khamenei had expressed in 2016 his indignation at the “spread of the English language”.

Speaking to teachers, Khamenei explained that he was not opposed to learning foreign languages but refused to promote a “foreign culture” among children and youth.

“Western thinkers have repeatedly argued that rather than colonial expansionism, the best and least expensive means was to inculcate thought and culture among younger generations in these countries,” he said.

There is no link between this decision and the anti-government protests that Iran is currently facing, but the Iranian Revolutionary Guards say that these troubles are being fomented by foreign powers.

Carl Frantz

Polyglot, humanitarian, Carl was born in Germany but raised in the USA. He writes mostly on tech, science and culture.