By including languages in the English Baccalaureate, the current government is making a strong statement that languages studies are an important and “rigorous” academic pursuit. However, whereas the E Bacc fails in terms of inclusiveness, the new Speak to the Future campaign reminds us all that only a "Languages for All" approach will have the desired impact on our work force and economy in general.
Speak to the Future was officially launched on15th February 2011. It has the support of over 30 organisations in order to address the UK’s under-achievement in language learning. The launch speech was delivered by Richard Hardie, Chair of UBS ltd and it can be downloaded here .
Key supporters of the campaign include:
Association for Language Learning
Chartered Institute of Linguists
CILT, the National Centre for Languages
Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association
Institute of Translation and Interpreting
National Association of Language Advisers
Specialist Schools and Academies Trust
Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
The Languages Company
University Council of Modern Languages
The campaign calls for urgent action to boost language learning across all phases of education. The aim is to develop and enhance educational and career opportunities for young people as well as our ability to compete in the global economy.
It will target policy-makers in government and leaders in education and business. It will make the case for long-term positive action to transform the UK’s capacity in languages.
The campaign will span the intended life of the current Parliament, also benefitting from the opportunities created by the 2012 Olympics, the 2014 European Parliament elections and the election campaigns for the next Welsh Assembly and Scottish and Westminster Parliaments.
Speak to the Future has five key aims, designed to create a coherent approach to language learning across all phases of education:
1. Every language valued as an asset
2. A coherent experience of languages for all children in primary school
3. A basic working knowledge of at least two languages including English for every child leaving secondary school
4. Every graduate qualified in a second language
5. An increase in the number of highly qualified linguists
The five-year campaign will reach out to people and organisations from all walks of life to gain wider public support for language learning.
According to recent figures, England is currently joint bottom of a table of 39 countries in the developed world for the amount of time spent on languages by 12-14 year olds in schools. No wonder a lot of them get frustrated with their rate of progress…
The first lesson has to be that curriculum time allocated to languages does impact on students’ self-image as linguists and examination results.
A LinkedIn group has been set up to share ideas and activities to support the campaign. More information about the campaign can also be downloaded from here and comments are welcome on this blog too.
Maybe we really are “the people we have been waiting for”…