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Curriculum language choice in schools

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

  1. I think they wouldn't - they'd be like us, and feel little compulsion to learn. And why should they? - if almost everyone spoke Dutch nearly as well as the Dutch themselves, how rational would it be for them to immerse themselves in unneeded languages?

  2. londomolari

    londomolari New commenter

    The ability to learn any foreign language after having gone through the process of learning a first (foreign) language is enhanced, greatly so if the language happens to be related to that first one. That is what I meant. Many English speakers will never get to enjoy that feeling.
  3. On what information do you base your comment that China's economy is breaking down?? I would think it is Europe's economy that is faltering rather than Asia's. I am a teacher of Chinese in Australia, and European languages are all but dead here, as they have little relevance to anyone in this part of the world. Chinese is not a hard language to learn, and they will continue to rise to economic prominence. Any other point of view is just euro-centric denial.
  4. Nonsense. The argument "but everybody speaks English" is simply not true. And furthermore, you can't tell me that primary children would know that everybody in the world speaks language x and that they don't have to learn another language because they speak language x. They don't even understand why they have to learn language x because it's not their first language. They don't care if everybody in the world speaks English - nobody around them does, so why should they learn it? Everyday life experience in Germany.....
    And by the way, German is compulsory for all Dutch pupils. So they don't rely on the Germans speaking English.... (But the Germans rely on the fact that the Dutch speak German :D)
  5. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    You and I and everyone on this forum who has travelled a little know that, Sarah. Some British people who've gone further than Magaluf know that. Most British people don't know that. They prefer not to know that. Their own expectations of how much of a foreign language they can learn are so low that they welcome anyone speaking three words of English to them as proof that the image they have of the rest of the world being fluent in English is true.
    But their parent will hold that view, and at some point, when we've gone past the fluffy "this is how you say brown rabbit, yellow duck, one two three four five" then learning a language will become difficult, particularly for native English speakers - they've never had to think about masculine, feminine, different forms of the verbs, different tenses, adjective agreements, and suddenly they need to in order to make progress. So they will start to believe what some adults say, that it doesn't matter because at the end of the day, everyone else will be able to speak to them in English. I've even heard teachers hold that view (ok, PE teachers, but still), so you can bet that they've heard it from somewhere else.
    By the way, I'm not dissing the teaching of languages at primary. I've seen it done really well, really thoroughly and with inspirational material moving away from yellow duck one two three! The more we can tap on the enthusiasm kids show at that age, the more likely it is that they'll want to go beyond the difficulties later on. I suppose it's a bit like maths - there are always some kids who like it!
  6. That wasn't quite what I meant, Sarah - we all know that young schoolkids aren't given an option. The point I was getting at was that if no one ever speaks to you in a foreign language but only in your own, your motivation to learn is very likely to be weak, even if you live in a foreign country, and sometimes even if you have a foreign spouse. Have you not noticed that?
  7. Made me smile... my first language is Dutch (Flemish actually) and I learnt English as a 3rd language many years ago. My (GB) husband's Dutch is of a reasonable standard BUT every time he tries to speak it when we're in Belgium or the NL, people jump in and speak English. The Flemish and Dutch (young and old) love speaking English and they speak it well. Being a Germanic language, English speakers pick Dutch up relatively easily but more useful than French or German? No way! Still... if it becomes more popular, let me know as I'm available for teaching ;)
  8. My experience in Belgium and Holland is exactly the same. I have "survival Dutch", but I have never needed to use it. As soon as I open my mouth it is clear to native speakers of Dutch that I am a novice and they switch to fluent English.
    Some university courses (not just language courses) in Holland are taught in English: http://www.studyinholland.co.uk/
    Have you heard Nick Clegg speaking Dutch? See:
    His mum's Dutch and he studied in Belgium.
  9. Our family goes on a skiing holiday in Austria every year. My younger granddaughter became aware of what a foreign language was when she was three years old. She heard the staff in our hotel speaking German among themselves and was puzzled, so she asked what was going on. I tried to explain that it was a different way of speaking called German. From that point on she wanted to learn German. The hotel staff were great. They taught her the words for just about everything you could see at the dinner table and around the hotel. Her pronunciation was really good. My granddaughter then asked me if there was a "book of German words" that she could learn. I found the ideal book at Munich airport, "Meine Welt", a book for young native speakers aged 18 months to 3 years, consisting of pictures of items that young children would be familiar with, with the names of the items underneath. Every time I visit her she gets the book out and we practise a few new words.
    My elder granddaughter, aged six at the time, came on holiday with us in January this year. In ski school she met a German girl of the same age. "I don't like her," she said, "she's grumpy and never answers when I talk to her." I explained that this was because she only understood German, and I acted as an interpreter on a couple of occasions. The penny dropped. My granddaughter began watching children's programmes on the TV in the hotel. Her mother and father were having a conversation while she was watching TV one evening. "Can you please stop talking, " she said, "otherwise I'll never learn German."
    But, of course, my granddaughters have a huge advantage. We are a well-educated family, we travel a lot and are aware of the importance of foreign languages. At the other end of the scale there are huge numbers of Brits who never travel abroad or only travel within the comfort zone of a package holiday to a resort where English is spoken. I remember seeing a travel programme on TV, where Brits returning from their holidays were being interviewed at the airport. 10% were unaware of which country they had visited and what language was spoken there. I think most of them had been to the Canaries.
  10. There are a lot of French people who are against French being placed in a position subservient to Chinese and Japanese and who refuse to accept that Chinese will be the language of the future. Hmm, I wonder if that is a coincidence?
  11. I agree: Dutch graduates are necessary for the UK ecomomy. Just look at the jobs on the internet where employers want 'Dutch and business' or 'Dutch and IT Sales'!
  12. Motto teinei manner wo bekyou stemiterra!
  13. Ce serait tellement mieux si tu le disais en francais....
  14. I certainly will! Also agree with you about French & German being more useful, although I'd have to add that I did nine years of French in school and have never used it since, not even once
    The difference between French, German & Dutch, in my interpretation, is that French & German are definitely needed if you live in France or Germany, because so many people expect you to speak their language and won't speak English
    But in (European) countries with a smaller language base (meaning # speakers) such as NL, NO, SE, FI, EE etc, they don't expect you to know their languages and many more people are much more willing to speak English with you
    But you've known this for years [​IMG]
  15. Well, I dunno, Graham - did you actually want her to have an Austrian accent? [​IMG]

    But I can quite believe you, because the one thing kids learn far better than adults in languages is pronunciation (if they learn from native speakers). Very few adults have 'authentic accents' in foreign languages unless they learned as a child, and this applies across the board
  16. Well, it would rather be an east German than an Austrian accent, because Austrians don't work in ski resorts and east Germans emigrate to Austria for the ski season to earn some money ;-).
  17. Not a 'Maschendrahzaun'-accent, one hopes?
    Oh well, never mind - you can always send her to Hannover for remedial training, if the condition persists [​IMG]
  18. I think the Austrian accent is rather sweet :) Most staff at hotel and restaurant management level in the resort where I go skiing, St Johann in Tirol, are locals, but most other hotel and restaurant staff are Croatian, Slovenian, Bosnian, Czech and Slovak. Ski instructors are mainly locals, but there are also Dutch and Swedish instructors and a couple of Australians and South Africans. For some reason or other, St Johann is very popular with Australians and South Africans, with the main European visitors being British, Irish, Dutch and Belgian.
  19. Australian and South African ski instructors? Can't be the most obvious profession for people from their parts of ther world. Eskimo camel traders, anyone?
  20. Australia has several ski resorts, notably the Snowy Mountains south of Sydney. The ski instructors teach there in their winter (our summer) and then come to Austria for our winter (their summer). Some Austrian instructors go to Australia and New Zealand in our summer (their winter). Contrary to what many people think, Australia is not always hot. I was in Melbourne in July 1998 (their winter) and we had frosts most mornings. We needed winter clothes on most days. Then we went up to Cairns (in the tropics), which averaged a comfortable 25 degrees - but it's very hot there in the summer months, although summer and winter are different concepts in the tropics.
    I was in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa, in July 1985. The daytime temperature was an average 20 degrees, but it dropped dramatically to around freezing at night. We often had frosts in the morning. We had a light snowfall during one night. The Drakensberg (around 3500 metres high) in nearby Lesotho was covered in snow in July when I was there. See http://www.webpro.co.za/clients/ski/

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