Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Modern Languages and Football

For me, the main attraction of 2006 is the FIFA Football World Cup in Germany. I've got the dates in my diary, the strip washed and ready, the beers cooling in the fridge. The British Embassy in Berlin has created a handy website with information about the games, venues, etc, with a glossary of football phrases in German such as 'it's a game of two halves' and 'sick as a parrot'. - now this is a real reason for learning a foreign language, a context that matters to people.

On the other hand, The BBC story "Schools to get language targets" reports that secondary schools in England are to be given a target of at least fifty percent of school students to study a foreign language until they are sixteen. The Department for Education and Skills is trying to address the decline in pupils choosing to learn languages such as French and German.

Such a target is unlikely to make any difference to the numbers studying languages at university, or go after careers with a need for language ability. If schools are forced to make reluctant teenagers learn a language, its quite likely to put the young people off for good and lead to classroom discipline problems too. Most English kids have already made their mind up and decided they can get by in life just fine without knowing another language.

If you think its important to increase the number of Brits who can speak a language other than their own, give them a real reason to desire it and make language learning an exciting and enjoyable thing.

The 'Modern Foreign Languages Environment' is part of the approach to supporting MFL learning and teaching in Scottish schools.

1 comment:

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