Sunday, 3 February 2008

Why choose a foreign language at KS4? The Truth about Languages

There are so many received ideas about foreign languages that the benefits of learning a foreign language should really be highlighted on a regular basis with ALL Year groups, and not just a few weeks before students look at their options.

Be honest : everybody can achieve in languages if they want to. Co-operation is of the utmost importance to achieve effective learning. So, no need to bypass students just to address parents. You will be teaching students with the support of parents, not the other way around!

Provide opportunities for formal assessment : Sitting an Asset Languages test is a very good way for the students to see whether it is for them or not and whether they can achieve.

Provide a lot of information in a variety of ways : assemblies, class presentations, visits, guest speakers, past students, displays, informal chats, referral to connexions etc…

Is it really that hard? The answer is NO. My message always is: “It is a GCSE in Spanish, not a GCSE in being Spanish. You are not required to be fluent like a native. You just need to be able to master a certain amount of vocabulary and grammar structures. It may appear more challenging than some practical subjects-and it is in some ways- but it is NOT rocket science. It also says something about you as a person: you are committed to academic studies as well as practical ones, open- minded and a good communicator.”

Languages help you with your English

Celebrate home languages as well as curriculum ones. Bilingual students can make a real contribution to the status of languages throughout the school and they sometimes find learning an additional language less daunting than monolingual students, as they have already had that experience.

For more ways to promote languages, research and resources check


Andrew said...

Thanks for the comment. In Australia we too are constantly challenged to inspire students to continue with languages. The attitude down this way is often a little too insular and so language has not traditionally been seen as an asset - lets hope we can change this. As you wrote, we aren't expecting students to be native speakers. Language alsways seems to be portrayed as harder than it actually is.

samccoy said...

Thanks for commenting on my Twitter Delicious Practice. After I read comments,I always like to trackback to the commentator's blog.

This posting on choosing a foreign language is interesting, and to the point. You drew me into the story.

My daughter and I are discussing this very issue. To be eligible for certain opportunities, she must take a two year program in a foreign language.

She is excited about learning another language, but her class assignments are so rigid that there are not hours in her schedule. We are talking about trying an online high school course or a college course if the school will approve it.

Glad to know about your blog. I like it.

skambalu said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog! I will be glad to direct the MFL teachers I know in your direction!