Headteachers today blamed school league tables for a dramatic decline in the number of children taking languages.
I'm am in no way a supporter of league tables, but it is blatant rubbish that it is the fault of league tables that fewer kids are studying languages. I am willing to be corrected if wrong but is it not the choice of individual schools whether or not languages are compulsory post 14.
As the government published the latest tables for GCSE and A-level in England, John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said they created perverse incentives for schools to skew the curriculum for 14- and 15-year-olds towards easier subjects.
So is Mr Dunford saying that the sole incentive for dropping the obligation for language study is the incentive to make a school look better in a league table? Hardly the most educational rationale is it?
I always thought we were in the business of producing well rounded young men and women with a drive for lifelong learning and an ambition to to their best in whatever they attempt. Yes it is important to kids and mums and dads what grades appear on their certificate but it also important...no vital, that students come out of their time in school as confident, responsible ,world aware citizens. The study of a foreign language goes a long way to doing this.
I think more H/T's need to be stronger to resist the temptation to make their school look good through tables. A good school with good teachers and a strong ethos of achievement in the broadest sense will always shine through...except to those who are so blinkered as to believe that a league table in something like education actually means something (politicians for example.)
But Dunford said the target had contributed to a dramatic fall in the numbers taking modern foreign languages now that pupils were no longer required to a take a foreign language after the age of 14. "This is widely regarded as a hard GCSE, a view that is supported by reliable research evidence, so, instead of taking French or German, students have taken subjects in which it is easier to reach grade C.
Oh dear, so languages is seen as a hard subject...SO WHAT?. What is wrong with a little academic rigour? Nothing for those that respond to that. But learning a language doesn't always have to be so difficult. Surely in England there are lower level courses students can take where students don't dwell so much on the hard grammatical stuff, but learn more about the culture of the countries where those languages are spoken, whilst still covering the basics. Any language teacher will tell you that parents at parents' evenings constantly bemoan the fact that though they didn't like languages at school they wished they had paid more attention because they go to France every year on holiday...
It's easy to blame league tables...they can't exactly respond via a blog can they.It just seems to me that everyone is taking the easy option: H/T's because they get to skew their stats a bit and pupils because they don't want to do something thats a bit difficult.
There have been so many articles written worrying about our lanck of linguistic prowess and what it means for future generations. This is just one I picked up on. (The Language of Ignorance?)
The rest of the world is becoming more multilingual - and monolingual English speakers are being left behind. Those that have learned English as a foreign language have every right to compete for jobs in the English speaking market, and if they are more qualified than those that speak English as a primary language, this could leave a huge chunk of the UK population without jobs.
Many think of languages as a non-vocational option of study, but in reality learning a foreign language can open up a vast array of career opportunities, ranging from work with well-known multinational companies to international organisations or charities, with the added benefit of travel abroad.
Without a language skill more and more of our kids will be at the back of a queue for all the good jobs. Come on give them a chance. Yes its hard, yes it can be a pain in the arse sometimes but it is encumbent on us as educators to give our students every chance to succeed in a world which is changing everyday...it's then up to the students to grasp the opportunity given.
And yes I know H/Ts have lots to think about when making their decisions about the curriculum but simply blaming the league tables is to my mind down right daft.
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