Despite having recently retired, I still reflect on, and discuss with ex-colleagues, the difficulties facing those in state education. Hence I'm drawn to the TES forums. Much has been written in the MFL forum about the difficulties, problems and failures relating to foreign language teaching/learning. One question which constantly arises in my own discussions is "Why are the countries of Europe so much better than we are at learning a foreign language" (the accuracy of this question is rarely challenged!)? Can anyone explain why English is more successfully taught/learnt in countries such as Germany, Holland etc than are MFL in the UK? - Is it simply a case of motivation? Students abroad know that an inability to speak English is likely to hold them back in pursuing their chosen profession? They are, of course, surrounded - in the media, in the world of sport, music, business and technology - by English (or should that be American?). The same cannot be said of our students of French, German, Spanish etc. - Is it a question of time allocation? Many postings highlight this as a factor. - Is it the age at which learning of a foreign language begins? (One can only imagine the howls of protest from bored 14 year olds if they have to study our subject for longer!) - To what extent does a sound knowledge of one's mother tongue facilitate the learning of a foreign language? And the opposite of course! - Is it the case that 'a lack of rigour' in the curriculum of many secondary schools has a negative effect when pupils are called upon to apply themselves to the 'more demanding' subjects? And just <u>how</u> do foreign teachers teach English? What methods do they use? Are they 'book based'? Are they 'grammar based'? To what extent do they use and/or depend on ICT? On this very notice board, (19/12/10), there is an invitation for MFL teachers to attend seminars on 'The use of new technologies for language teaching in schools.' Is this a tacit confirmation that 'the old methods' are gone forever? A prerequisite for teaching/learning today seems to be 'fun activities', and new language courses all seem to have to include glossy, easy-on-the-eye pupils' books, along with suggestions for ICT etc. Is this really the way forward? Surely, the following extracts from replies to an earlier post (The teaching of MFL - 20/01/2010) have a simple logic, and an obvious merit. "From an international business point of view, what is needed are people with a good command of grammar, a wide vocabulary and decent pronunciation in an MFL" (JUBILEE 20/04/2010). "Although the emphasis in those days was on grammar and translation, what I learned was a solid foundation for communication... I knew how to construct accurate and quite complex sentences on paper before I went to Germany, and I could understand written German. I just needed more practice in transferring these skills to speaking and listening." - GROOVYGUZI 20/04/2010 Any thoughts on this cri de coeur?