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The challenge facing MFL in the UK

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by mlapworth, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. ME: I would like to add a point that was made in the Dearing report on the future of Languages. As more and more "foreigners" become fluent in English this makes the abilty for natives to claim that they possess a rare and useful skill less and less relevant. Therefore there will be more and more competition for jobs here in the UK from people who have English and their native language., Another strong reason for the UK not to fall further behind in language skills.
    ME: Still without a job!
  2. I agree that it shouldn't be called a 'bacc' because it's not a separate qualification and it's not post-16, so it's a bit of a confusing name, but I'm definitely 100% behind the idea. Whether or not the top unis will start to use it in admissions remains to be seen, but sadly I don't think that would make much difference because most students at these unis come from private or grammar schools where languages tend to still be compulsory to GCSE anyway.
  3. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    But it might mean in ordinary comps that instead of having money spent on peripheral activities for G & T for example that they might pay attention to the KS4 provision and ensure that more children acquire this academic portfolio of GCSEs. I am not a Tory, and I dislike Gove but every so often he says or does something which makes me think damn I really like this!

  4. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    In spite of my earlier optimism, I have to say that it doesn't look as if things will be anywhere near as positive as as I had hoped...
    The govt's position that the ebac is just one of many measures - just an additional measure, rather than the one they want business and higher education to focus on, - and the fact that they don't seem willing to look at all sides of the issue, means that:
    - schools are forcing more kids to do MFL because their fear is that it will be seen as the main way of judging schools' performance
    - universities and employers aren't particularly bothered by the ebac
    - consequently, there isn't really much in it for students
    - so, many students will be forced to do a language because of school policy, but they won't feel that it's of benefit to them, becasue it isn't valued beyond their own school
    It could have all been so much better...
    The ebac will be used primarily as a way for middle class parents to decide whether a school is 'suitable', enabling them to choose between schools that get 'proper' results and those that get Mickey Mouse results.

  5. steveglover

    steveglover New commenter

    I am now very involved in Careers, Education Advice and Guidance and am firmly of the view that young people and their parents need educating early on why they are studying particular subjects and how they relate to a) personal development and quality of life b) continuing education c) careers d) the building of personal resilience.
    Re the English Bacc English and maths have always been seen as the "must have" vocational subjects-this has been emphasized strongly in the recent Wolf report. Everyone needs to have scientific awareness at various levels to be able to function in the modern world as well as to fully involved in the democratic process where lifestyle choices dictate energy policy etc. I would link geography in with science from that point of view. Personally I find lack of historical awareness frightening and disconcerting.
    In a global economy a healthy offering of foreign languages such as in place in many schools now, particularly language colleges and the private sector should be seen as contributing to developing an awareness of foreign cultures and facilitating enterprise. When so many of the tasks we do have been de-skilled, getting inside the skin of a people who use a different language remains one of the intellectual challenges and thrills we can still aspire to which will not be completely devalued by Microsoft et al. Similarly, the arts, music etc are the elements of life which characterize us as human going right back to cave paintings.
    The ethos of schools tends to reflect these beliefs but, besieged by the obsession with statistics (encouraged by the underlying belief that statistics are the answer to everything) they often fail to get the message out to parents and child and to relate this to the learners' future lives.
    In the light of the changes to funding for universities the schools which can relate the school academic/vocational experience to life chances/career progression etc may well be the winners to the huge advantage of the students who attend them irrespective of whether it is Ebacc or whatever they are majoring on. MFL teachers need to take the educational/vocational high ground on the experience they can potentially provide; whether it is at GCSE or AQA units, languages ladder or whatever doesn't matter if learners know why they are doing it and how it fits into their progression.
  6. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    Since people are discussing the ebacc again... ^

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