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Curriculum language choice in schools

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by hikochan, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Why is the government and our schools continuing to offer only the old and worn out choice of German, French or Spanish to primary and secondary school pupils when economic research and language bodies are highlighting the importance of other languages? Strategically speaking, Dutch is more in demand by employers; more so than Spanish. Japanese is obviously a strategic economic parter of the UK, and Chinese language IS the future. This title 'Modern Foreign Languages' is a misnomer. Get rid of French and German (the French and German kids all speak English anyway and speak to any German child or adult in German, and annoyingly, they just reply in English!) and get teaching our children Dutch, Japanese and more importantly, Chinese. Continuing with the current, poor and stagnate choice of languages in terms of the current MFL curriculum is like continuing to teach children how to use a typewriter when they should be taught computer literacy! Why has nobody in the government and education seen the present and the future!? It is blindingly obvious!
     
  2. Why is the government and our schools continuing to offer only the old and worn out choice of German, French or Spanish to primary and secondary school pupils when economic research and language bodies are highlighting the importance of other languages? Strategically speaking, Dutch is more in demand by employers; more so than Spanish. Japanese is obviously a strategic economic parter of the UK, and Chinese language IS the future. This title 'Modern Foreign Languages' is a misnomer. Get rid of French and German (the French and German kids all speak English anyway and speak to any German child or adult in German, and annoyingly, they just reply in English!) and get teaching our children Dutch, Japanese and more importantly, Chinese. Continuing with the current, poor and stagnate choice of languages in terms of the current MFL curriculum is like continuing to teach children how to use a typewriter when they should be taught computer literacy! Why has nobody in the government and education seen the present and the future!? It is blindingly obvious!
     
  3. mpc

    mpc

    How is Dutch more in demand? Am I missing something?
    BTW, in order to teach a broader range of languages (which I don't necessarily disagree with), we would need to train a generation of Dutch/Japanese/Chinese teachers...
     
  4. marmot.morveux

    marmot.morveux New commenter

    Oh don't start this argument...we have enough trouble justifying any teaching of languages?!
    Although, as you've started, let me see your research, as I thought French/German WERE the premier business languages in this part of the world.
    Also, are you not assuming everyone is going to be a Dutch or Chinese businessperson?!
    Learning any language plants the seed, then they can learn their choice of language.
    Lastly, the more I travel, the more I realise that ACTUALLY, not all German and French people do speak English, or if they do, not enough!!! :p
    My German isn't amazing but when in Munich last, lots of Germans let me speak German, even when they saw that I was visibly struggling! In France, I've met a considerable amount of people who have appreciated me speaking French too.
    MM.
     
  5. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I always love it when English-speaking people come to my native Switzerland and are shocked (as am I) by a) how little English people speak and b) how much people are uninterested in speaking to them in English beyond the "hello, how are you". An that's in a multilingual country!
    I'm interested about the Dutch comment - according to wikipedia, there are only 23 million of native Dutch-speakers worldwide. Certainly an interesting language to learn, but I can't see that it makes more sense to learn it that Spanish, French or German.
    I'm also a strong advocate of learning a language because of its shared cultural links with your own (at least the first foreign language). Yes it may be interesting to learn about China and its language, but it's difficult to find historical, cultural, geographical or philosophical links with it. You can't go to China easily or cheaply for a couple of days' school trip. You're not very likely to bump into a Chinese-speaking person on your streets. It shouldn't be the prime motivator for learning a language, but at a time where it's so hard to persuade English-speakers to learn another language, it may just be the deal-breaker.
    Now if you lived in Australia or New Zealand, that would be an entirely different matter...
     
  6. Geekie

    Geekie New commenter

    Since when???
    Baroness Coussins has said "Over a third of UK businesses need language skills. They mostly need French and German, but more Mandarin and Spanish is required now"
    Generally speaking, I would say that French children's English is about as good as English children's French.
    So, hikochan, how about you tell us a bit about yourself and where these views come from?
     
  7. Hang on: they don't even speak proper German in Switzerland! It is Swiss German. I once worked with German speakers and even they couldn't understand what the Swiss German teachers were saying!

    Maybe we don't have the cultural links etc but Chinese IS the language of all future business because in 20 years EVERYTHING you buy will be made in China.
     
  8. mflnqt

    mflnqt New commenter

    Are you a MFL teacher???
     
  9. First of all, southerners and Austrians are more likely to understand Swiss German than northerners, who are more likely to understand Dutch. Secondly, every German speaking person in Switzerland does not only speak Swiss German, but also High German. If a friend of mine speaks Bavarian to her parents, I don't understand a word of it, although I was born in Bavaria and grew up here. But still, she and her parents can communicate with me....
    Thirdly, China's economy is about to break down. Perhaps they won't be that important any more in 20 years.....
    I think half of the Germans don't speak enough English to communicate in a business world. It's more down to basic "holiday English".

     
  10. Hikochan, you seem to be implying that the only valid reason for learning a language is for future job prospects. My passion for languages stemmed entirely from my enjoyment of the language and how it sounded - hence my love of French and Italian. In my opinion, it's much better (and more effective) for a student to learn a language they love an respect that to learn one just because it's useful!
     
  11. source?

    a) no they don't
    b) thought we were talking about business people?
    c) in my experience NOBODY speaks better English (as a foreign language) than the Dutch
     
  12. What Isabella Mozarella said!

    No other subject is constantly having to justify its existence with how it's going to help you get a job.
     
  13. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Was that supposed to insult me? I am in fact French-speaking so that one was a little wasted. Try again, you might get there.
    Perhaps the Germans you worked with could try a little harder, like Americans with Cheryl Cole...
     
  14. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    By the way we're still all awaiting with excitement this wonderful revelation about Dutch taking over the world!
    And on a separate note I wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese bubble burst in the next 20 years. Economists will probably show off my ignorance but business has been a little slow off late, with Europe unable to make money out of the goods produced out there (my husband's company has their production line in China and they've laid off staff, same as a lot of companies out there). Of course this could be temporary, but with the cost of petrol increasing, it may well be that businesses will have to rethink how they do things.
    It doesn't mean we shouldn't learn Chinese, of course. I'd love to be able to speak it (but I am a linguist who already speaks five languages and I like a challenge - not necessarily the attitude to languages you'll find amongst 13-year-olds choosing their GCSE options).
     
  15. Having attempted (note the word attempted) to introduce my pupils to Mandarin this year as well as teaching French I could categorically say from personal experience that it has been a challenge. From an educational point of view I am convinced that it is better for pupils to learn one language that they can at least relate to before trying a language that is completely "other" to the European ones they are used to. No doubt some would disagree and say that they should start learning it as a first language but there is so little they can peg the sounds to that it is a real struggle to remember the vocabulary from lesson to lesson. It is also demotivating for them when they know they are making very little progress. I think it would be better for this type of language to have total immersion which as we all know would not be practical in terms of curriculum!
     
  16. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    I think hikochan is a troll I wouldn't feed it.
     
  17. What a load of tosh. French and German children do not all speak English.
    Guess which group of people do nearly all speak English though? Ah yes - the Dutch.
    "Chinese IS the language of all future business because in 20 years EVERYTHING you buy will be made in China."
    If they want to sell us their goods then they'd better keep learning English then. For as long as we're doing the importing and they're doing the exporting, they'd better make sure we understand what it is they're trying to sell to us.
    Tot ziens, Hikochan. You've only managed two posts so far - poor trolling.
     
  18. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Ne donnez pas à manger au troll. Hikochan dit n'importe quoi.
     
  19. londomolari

    londomolari New commenter

    The Dutch are the best non-native English speakers I've ever encountered. Many of them are bilingual. That isn't a reason not to learn Dutch, of course, but if we're talking in terms of doing business in a common language, then that language will be English.
    China
    I agree that Chinese would be a useful language to learn but the pupils have to LEARN it and many of them cannot cope with the requirements of reaching even basic proficiency in a language with cognates to aid learning, and no difficult tone system, so I don't know how they would ever cope with Chinese. I seem to remember a lot of shouting about how Russian would be the language of the future when the USSR disintigrated, but all that died out rather quickly.
    Japan
    Japan is in a mess economically. This has been made worse, obviously, by the tsunami in March. What's more, another huge earthquake is predicted (insofar as earthquakes can be predicted) to hit central Japan, and it's already 10 years overdue. I don't think Japan is going to be the economic player it once was.
    South Korea
    You forgot Korea in this discussion. Hard on the heels of Japan in the technology race, I predict we'll be hearing a lot from this little country in the future, especially when North Korea falls, so maybe you should add Korean to the list of languages UK schools should be teaching.
    Ultimately the main problem remains the same: the pupils can't, or don't want to, learn languages!
     
  20. Because you don't force them to. If you did, they would learn.
     

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