Saturday, 3 March 2012

Time to Embrace Learning Languages

In a recent guest blog post published on The Guardian’s Teacher Network Blog, I discuss the many issues defiant young monolinguals seem to have with learning foreign languages.
I was very interested in the few comments posted on The Guardian’s site ranging from the usual “it is shameful but…” to diverting the discussion onto deciding which languages should be learnt.
Mandarin Chinese came up again and my gut reaction was to wonder how a defiant young monolingual would respond to learning a language so different to English when they are already unable to cope with the idea that the adjective goes after the noun in French…
Even more interestingly, one of the comment stated “I am less concerned about whether the average Briton speaks more than one language than to ensure that people who have a talent for language learning are properly served by the education system in future”.
To do this, I would suggest GCSE to be radically changed and a range of alternative language qualifications introduced. It is only possible to determine if somebody has a talent for languages if they are given a range of ways to demonstrate this.
In addition, when the issues of severity and unpredictability of grading in languages are finally tackled, only then students will be able to opt to study a foreign language in complete confidence, knowing that their achievements will be fairly recognized.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you totally. The teaching of languages should be completely overhauled to facilitate the enjoyment of such wonderful skills.

A Cuban In London said...

I agree with you 100%. But then, again, I would say, wouldn't I? Did a major in English and minors in French and German. I currently lead a lunchtime German club and an after-school Spanish club for families at my primary school.

When people ask me: why German? I answer: Have you seen their economy lately? :-)

Greetings from London.

Jose said...

It is interesting what you say about talented people for languages.
I would really love to be talented and not to have to struggle when approaching a second language.
We all have our talents and this is a very important point when it comes to education and personal growth.
Things would be much easier for us and for future generations if we were able to find out what we are really talented for.
But in any case, I think everybody could learn at least a second language if tought when being still a child.