Feeds

UK foreign language teaching hits all-time low

Report laments 'phrase book' standards

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Foreign language teaching in the UK's state schools has been reduced to "the sort of thing you find in a 'get by' phrase book", claims a doom-and-gloom report published yesterday.

That's the conclusion of The Corruption of the Curriculum by Shirley Lawes, which indicates that the government's decision in 2004 to allow GCSE pupils to drop languages has resulted in a predictable decline in the number of kids taking the exams, leading to a "dumbing down" of language curricula "as teachers react to the latest fads to revive pupils' waning enthusiasm".

Indeed, back in 2004, three quarters of GSCE pupils took language exams, a figure now down to a half. To add insult to injury, the government in March declared that kids "should be allowed to drop traditional French and German GCSEs in favour of exams in many languages, but only requiring a tourist's grasp".

Accordingly, Spanish is on the up-and-up, but "only because the country is a favourite with British holidaymakers".* According to Laws, subject leader for modern languages at London's Institute of Education, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese are also on the ascendant since they're perceived as "trendy".

The upshot is, Laws claims, that languages will become an "elitist" subject, or "the preserve of independent schools", as the Telegraph puts it.

Laws warns: "The knock-on effect on universities in the next few years will be devastating. Already, 30 per cent of all new, young, modern languages undergraduates come from the independent sector, where the study of languages continues to be compulsory to GCSE level. Foreign languages are once again becoming an elitist subject area."

This dire situation has, Laws says, been provoked by politicians' and teachers' attempts to make the curricula more functional and entertaining, "to help pupils appreciate languages as relevant to future business needs or employment".

Laws laments: "They reduce foreign language study to a functional skill that teaches the sort of thing you find in a 'get by' phrase book. It is selling young people short and is unlikely to inspire anyone to see languages as anything other than mechanical and boring."

Bootnote

* I'm sure I'm not alone in finding this rather patronising. It's not unreasonable for kids to want to get a bit of Spanish if they spend their summers hols in Benidorm. Regarding the "mechanical and boring" claim, I was personally subjected to five years' O-Level French torture which was so overwhelmingly mechanical and boring, and bereft of any attempt to explain the potential benefits of speaking the lingo, that it simply reinforced my growing belief that petulant French waiters should be subjected to the time-honoured "wave your passport and speak louder in English" treatment.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.