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The decline of foreign language learning and teaching

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by GroovyGuzi, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. The time allocation is crucial. All the research conducted over the last 30-40 years - especially with regard to the CEFR - supports this. See this Section on the CEFR in Module 4.1 at the ICT4LT website:
    http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod4-1.htm#cef
    While there appear to be no official recommended guidelines on the number of class-contact hours required to prepare students for our national MFL examinations you should bear in mind that the DfE recognises the different levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages in its Languages Ladder booklet and maps them to our national MFL examinations. These are the number of recommended guided learning hours required to reach the different levels from scratch:
    CEFR A2 = Foundation GCSE, Approx 180-200 hours
    CEFR B1 = Higher GCSE, Approx 350-400 hours
    CEFR B2 = AS / A / AEA Level, Approx 500-600 hours
    Regards
    Graham Davies
     
  2. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Hi there graham and tonus, As you are a regular contributor to this website I was hoping to get your views on a few issue issues in the teaching of MFL in uk schools. My main interest is in vocabulary acquisition.
    The interest in foreign languages in my cohort at school was lacking in what it should have been and from what I can see has steadily contined it's decline since then, which was over 30 years ago.
    The problem I identified at the time and does not seem to have been addressed at all was the issue of vocabulary acquisition.
    The moment a child falls behind in a MFL I can virtually guarantee they will never catch up again. In this circumstance the childs interest will wane and disappear. In the first few weeks of learning the importance of vocabulary acquistion is paramount. As far as I can see most students are expected as ever to learn words by rote. Those with good memories or those able to use their own techniques to make words 'stick' will thrive and the mass of the rest will make do until given the option to drop languages.
    A post I read on here today , which though was from 2007 but still represents a popular view by teachers today I think, said that vocabulary acquisition is easy. It is not and particularly if you have little motivation to learn a new language in the first place anyway which is the case with uk kids entering the secondary stage of education.
    Various methods have been tried apart from the one which I think is best - Linkword. I think you have a positive view of this system from your posts.
    I have yet to find any trial of this method in uk schools. I spent some time some years ago trying to read up in as many education journals I could find re the effectiveness of Linkword and/or other mnemonic methods. The main criticism seemed to be that words were not learnt in context. But if you take that to it's logical conclusion the only way to learn a new language would be to live in that country which is absurd.
    The level of word retention with Linkword I think dwarfs any other method used in the uk at the moment.
    If Linkword did not exist I would be suggesting that the memory techniques suggested by those like Dominic O'Brien - the memory king - should be adopted for all subjects . But for teachers of MFL in uk to have a ready made system like Linkword available and has been for years and not use it is little short of a crime against the majority of our schoolkids.
    The impression I get from most teachers seems to be , what was good enough for me should be good enough for the little runts they have to teach. (Runts being the teachers words. I am increasingly shocked and dismayed by the way teachers refer to pupils though they say they do it in jest)
    May I ask what you think?
    Minka
     
  3. Hi Minka
    Yes, it is a shame how some teachers refer to their pupils but, having taught for 25 years, I can understand why! Furthermore, I do think that the vast majority of teachers say it in jest as many teachers who I had the pleasure of teaching with who came out with far worse than that behind closed doors gave tremendous help and support to the same 'kids' when the latter needed it. Le'ts face it, teaching the pupils of today is one huge challenge and not for the faint-hearted, but the average teacher goes out of their way to help. Teachers who do not like children tend to fall by the wayside fairly quickly these days - as do even many of those who do!
    But to get to your point about vocab acquisition. Yes, it is a critical skill and one that can quite easily be overlooked. Where are the slim vocab books, with each page folded in two for the English and new foreign language words written side by side by the pupil? We used to give these out to pupils when we gave them their exercise books at the start of the year. They usually had one learning homework per week when they would be tested and the vocab mark recorded in our mark book. Pupils doing less well than they should ( the important thing here is to know what each student should be capable of) would be retested or have to copy up the words so many times. I personally can see nothing much wrong with this old-fashioned methodology. Yes, it does involve a sort of punishment or correction of pupils' laziness or 'can't be botheredness' but surely that is what good teaching is about. Some pupils assimilate new vocabulary through games and being brilliant, but the vast majority do not. All pupils learn at different rates and, as you so rightly suggest, those who manage to get away with not learning vocab are very likely to slip through our linguistic net. Of course, those pupils who genuinely do have learning problems will need extra support, time and patience, and a good teacher will have done his research and know who to expect less of in vocabulary acquisition. That is why some students end up in a lower set and rightly so! Where it becomes difficult for a teacher (and usually difficult for the pupils) is when he has a mixed ability class where he will inevitably expect some students to get all vocabulary test items correct but others to get few correct. That is when the so called 'gifted and talented' are tempted to work less and when these potential linguists of the future begin to underachieve.
    Reading is a great way to improve vocabulary acquisition and, once again, very few schools give out readers to pupils or have a regular reading period eg. once every two weeks. There used to be a great reading scheme called Bibliobus, and pupils and schools used to subscribe to the Mary Glasgow magazines. I don't know whether these two resources still exist but similar schemes surely must. Of course, the other essential resource for students is a bilingual dictionary, something you very rarely see on the average pupil's desk these days!
    It's hard to be a dinosaur you know. But I long to see a return to some of the old methodology as much of it was very effective. (The OHP used to be great for helping learn vocab!!) Lots of the modern ideas to entertain the pupils, the modern timetabling tendency to teach in double and even triple lessons (if languages were taught for 45 minutes four or five times a week, vocab acquisition would be easier) as well as the lack of discipline and high expectations have all helped allow standards to slip to the frightening level of today. And that is why so many dinosaurs despair!
     
  4. I recall first seeing Linkword demonstrated to me personally by its inventor, Michael Gruneberg (who is a psychologist), back in the mid1980s. It seems like a good idea, namely associating a word in a foreign language with an image that will help you recall it: thus the Greek for "dog" is "skylos" - think of a dog looking for a ski he has lost in an avalanche. The TV magician, Paul Daniels popularised this method. The drawback is that you can only accumulate a limited number of associated images like this, and in the end you have to let go of the reins and instantly recall words and use them in context if you wish to become a proficient linguist.
    A more efficient method is based on the Ebbinghaus Forgetting-Curve, as exemplified in programs such as phase-6, which uses the Spaced Repetition Approach to ensure that vocabulary is retained long-term rather than for short periods of just a few days:
    http://www.phase-6.com/
    Conincidentally, I have just examined a PhD student who reported on very good results in vocab acquisition with native German students learning English at secondary school in Bavaria. They did better with phase-6 than with a more elaborate multimedia vocab acquisition program.
    I list a number of vocab acquisition resources on my Favourite Websites page:
    http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/websites.htm#vocabulary
    I don't think that there is one single vocab acquisition method that works. Different methods work for different people. There has been a mass of research on vocab acquisition - see the VARGA website at
    http://www.lognostics.co.uk/varga/
    Two of the key players in vocab acquistion are Paul Meara and Jim Milton - Google for their names.
    Regards
    Graham Davies

     
  5. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Hi Tonus42 and Graham,
    Thanks for your replies to my post.
    Tonus, first I do realise the pressure teachers and the particular problems of teachers of MFL are under these days. I think the first year of learning languages in secondary education has totally to be changed. The ideal solution would be to introduce language learning gradually from infant and primary level and to get the uk adult population to have a positive view to learning other peoples languages rather than expecting everybody else to speak English. Since that is not going to happen in the near future we have to start with present generation. That first year is crucial at 11 years of age. It might even be that first lesson in MFL. I think teachers probably have at most from sep to xmas holidays to get the new kids interested in a foreign language. If you've lost them by that time they are gone forever. They've got to enjoy the first few months.And what we have to appreciate is that most other subjects like maths, science etc kids will have had experience of but not a foreign language - they are thrown in cold. In a class where perhaps the child may not even know the other children very well. This is life changing stuff. You fall behind you are history. Forgive the pun.
    Now Tonus you mention there are various vocabulary learning techniques but you fail to mention Linkword.
    Now I do not think Linkword is perfect but for uk kids it shoud be the first option. There is grammar in the Linkword method but only to serve to link the vocabulary which in the beginning is how it should be. I counted about 800 words in the index of the French course book. Which working 1 hr per day can be learnt in 7 days by a reasonably intelligent person including a child. Revision is at regular sections through the course and then after 1week and then 1 month after course is completed and the user is not enouraged to dwell on 'forgetting a few words and to relearn words they have forgotten' but to think of how much they are ARE learning. Now if your kids had all the vocabulary they needed in the first week or month, the rest of the year could be used in putting the words in action to enjoyment of pupils and teachers. Think of that.
    Graham you mention phase 6 which I have never heard of before and will check out and Paul Meara and Jim Milton - well Paul Meara I have heard of. Paul is a firm believer in the linkword method. One of my favourite quotes in support of linkword actually comes from the writings of Paul when he writes about pedagogy. He was as mystified as I that for what linkword can do it is not available in every school.
    It seems teachers of MFL have tried everything but linkword. They just seem to have a blind spot about this system which I am at a loss to explain. The articles in journals broadly come out in its favour. It has it's faults like democracy but like someone said about democracy it's better than the alternatives.
    Reading all the other forums it's very nice to hear the wishes and dreams as well as the complaints of the teachers on here. But I'm seeing mostly a negative picture. There is no light at the end of the tunnel and in this instance I would blame the teachers even the good ones who have ignored linkword.
    Minka.
     
  6. And how much do you charge for this software Minka?
     
  7. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    Well, being selfish, I suppose this crappy level of language in school kids warrants an increase of adult students who come to me and other teachers like me to learn a language. I think the interest in language learning is increasing in the UK, but among older people. Which is good in a way, however, it is a shame that they all come with the same story, "I did GCSE French, got an A or B, can't remember anything" and indeed it's not that they can't remember, is that it seems they don't even know what a verb is or how to make the present tense themselves to save their lives. They have to be taught the skill of how to learn a language in a classroom environment from scratch! And they are not stupid, most of them manage to follow the lessons and acquire the skills necessary to keep improving by themselves. How is this possible?

    With regards to vocab acquisition, as mentioned earlier, reading is a very important activity, as is "translation". In my humble opinion vocabulary is best learnt in context, and translation both direct and indirect are very good exercises to practise the use of these words. However, I dare not say these as I will be labeled as old fashioned.

    I share the surprise of many foreigners that like me learnt English as a second language as well as other language to see that even many (maybe most?) language teachers in the UK totally ignore the existence of the "Easy reader" series. I have got many a weird look by suggesting they buy those for their department or use them with their most able students. People say to me "what do you mean? English readers?"

    There are not my strategies or ideas but tested and proven to work across Europe. Why do we want to stick to making students learn lists of vocabulary out of context...?
     
  8. Sounds like a sales pitch, Minka!
    Regards
    Graham Davies
     
  9. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    To graham and stuart
    I am very disappointed that you knock down my attempt to open a debate with the low blow that it sounds like a sales pitch and that only in one line. I would have expected a more reasoned response. Sadly I am not surprised.
    Let me make it clear. I have no financial interest in linkword. But I do have an interest in languages. Being a Punjabi brought up in England all his life in the North East it's not surprising. The links between language and intelligence, supposed or real, first interested me. The abilty to speak two languages always seemed to impress my english only speaking friends. And of course having the experience of knowing 2 languages made it easier for me in secondaty school to move onto french and german. It was clear though for others in the language classroom it was a different story. Those that did not keep up fell behind and never caught up and were instilled with a hatred of learning languages. Simply because they did not learn the words. Whether they fell back on the old reason, I have a bad memory or what use will it be for me coz everybody speaks English don't they.
    The pattern of drop off after a month I noticed again years later when I studied at evening classes where students paid for their lessons.
    And again where my workplace encouraged it's staff to learn the language of where the parent company was situated - French. Numbers dropped off within a month and then course closed due to lack of interest.
    Are we seeing a pattern here?
    Each used state of the art technology available at time but each failed because of one thing. The students could not REMEMBER THE WORDS.
    I came across Linkword in a bookshop in the 80's and it seemed like an answer to every language learners prayers. I tried the 10 word test in the shop and it seemed to have something. Bought the book, learned lots of words and though my pronunciation may not have been perfect and I did not remember every word, I was enthused. So much so I wrote to Michael Gruneberg asking why his method is not used in schools. And he told me a tale of woe regarding his treatment by the educational establishment.
    I thought the Nuffield Inquiry would have changed things but has made little or no difference that I can see. Because it ignored the basic problem. The methods used to learn words are inadequate.
    And we come to the situation today where the state of language learning in schools is worse than what it was when I was at school over 30 years ago. After 5 years of language learning I have learnt from the forums on here that the pupil is not in a good position to move onto a higher level like A or AS level. Or even to carry on a fluent converation with a native speaker beyond saying where they are from, how many brothers and sisters they have and asking where the nearest railway station is.
    What amazes me is that linkword is only an aid to memory. I would be happy to hear any views on linkword - good or bad.
    Please if you are going to reply to my posts make references to the points I make or I may presume that you have not read the whole post.
    Minka

     
  10. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Hi Graham,
    In reply to
    "The drawback is that you can only accumulate a limited number of associated images like this, and in the end you have to let go of the reins and instantly recall words and use them in context if you wish to become a proficient linguist"
    I would dare to say with the basic courses, learners can learn more words in 1 month than with 1 year with any other course. And with more extensive courses like French which are offered, the equivalent of 5 years in one year.
    And letting go of the reins is not a problem as though associated images are important at first, as the words are used - and practise is essential - the words become internalised. But if the words cannot be recollected in the first place they cannot be used in any event. And that is the problem with existing methods.
    As regards German students learning English. With respect my interest is in English speakers from UK learning German or other languages. I am sure if German or Spanish was the language of the world and the internet that English is we would not be having this discussion. Given the economic incentive foreign language classes would be oversubscribed everywhere in uk. Woudn't that be great?
    Minka.
     
  11. OK, Minka, sorry for assuming that you were a salesperson, but that's the way it comes across! And I do read ALL the text in ALL of your posts.
    My personal view of Linkword is that it works for some people some of the time.
    I worked with Paul Meara on the DIALANG project, and he was external supervisor of one of my PhD students (who, sadly, died before she completed her thesis on vocab acquisition - see below). Paul sets out his views on what is known as the "keyword method" - a mnemonic approach, which lies at the heart of Linkword - in this early article (1980): Vocabulary acquisition: a neglected aspect of language learning. He describes how it works, but he also states, "This evidence is very impressive at first sight, but work of this kind is actually rather problematical at a deeper level, and needs to be treated with some caution." In a later article, a book review of Coady & Huckin (1998), he is more positive: see the citation in Sommer S. & Gruneberg M. (2002) "The use of Linkword Language Computer Courses in a classroom situation: a case study at Rugby School", Language Learning Journal, Winter 2002, No. 26: 48-53: http://cilt.ittmfl.org.uk/modules/ict/2d/paper2d1.PDF
    As a former teacher of German in both secondary and higher education (I retired in 1993) I often used a mnemonic/keyword approach to assist vocab acquisition - but not all of the time. A mix of approaches worked best for me: sometimes highlighting German words' similarities to English (e.g. Haus, braun), sometimes using images, sometimes using audio and/or video prompts, and often using computers - from around 1979. I continue to learn new languages myself. You can read a review of my attempt to learn basic Mandarin Chinese in the ICT4LT blog, November 2010.
    You can read an article on vocab acquisition that was written by the PhD student of mine who died. She presented it as a conference paper at EUROCALL 1997 in Dublin: Myles S. (1998) "The language learner and the software designer: a marriage of true minds or ne'er the twain shall meet?", ReCALL 10, 1: 38-45. Available at
    http://www.eurocall-languages.org/recall/pdf/rvol10no1.pdf
    It's still valid today.
    Regards
    Graham Davies
    Emeritus Professor of Computer Assisted Language Learning
    http://grahamdavies.wikispaces.com/

     
  12. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Hi Graham
    Re "The use of Linkword Language Computer Courses in a classroom situation: a case study at Rugby School", Language Learning Journal, Winter 2002, No. 26: 48-53:
    I have read countless articles like this years ago largely supporting linkword. You use the meothod yourself. Can you please say why it is not used in UK classrooms? The Rugby kids said they enjoyed the course. What more higher recommendation can you want?
    Yours in exasperation
    Minka
    PS Will catch up on the articles from your PhD student, who has sadly passed away, as soon as possible. Plus your blog regarding your desire to learn Mandarin Chinese - you are very brave. Not to sound like salesman again but linkword is available in Mandarin too. I tried Russian linkword and gave up but I blame that on it being an intrinsically difficult language to learn and my lack of motivation rather than the method.
     
  13. I have no idea why teachers don't use Linkword. Anything is worth trying at least once. As I said, it works for some people some of the time, so this must include a few kids in schools too.
    Mandarin is tough - a big strain on my old brain - but I am not putting much effort into it; I just wanted to get a flavour of the language. Remembering words is difficult, because they have no resemblance to any other languages I have attempted to learn.
    Hungarian is even more difficult. Its vocab has virtually nothing in common with any other European languages, and its grammar is a nightmare. But I had to learn Hungarian for a project I was managing in Hungary in 1991-1996. I appointed a private tutor. She was very patient and took me through all the role-plays I needed - masses of repetition worked. I sometimes used mnemonics to help me remember words, e.g. "boldog" means "happy", so I associated this word with a smiling bulldog, and "két" (pron. "Kate") means "two", so I thought of Kate with the two big boobies (sorry!). Hungarian does, however, build compound words rather like German, so I could work out, for example, that the sign "Rövidáru Bolt" on a shop meant "Haberdashery Shop", because the first word is composed of "rövid" ("short") and "áru" ("wares"), which is the same combination as used in German. i.e. "Kurzwaren", and "bolt" is easy to remember, because you bolt the shop when you go home.
    Russian, which I learned through self-study in around 1958-1964, is much easier than Chinese or Hungarian! It has a lot more words that are close to words in other European languages, and the grammar has a lot in common with Latin (which I studied at A-Level). I only used Russian once in a real-life situation, on a trip to Minsk in 1995. I was surprised how quickly it came back to me. On my first encounter with a native Russian speaker in Minsk I couldn't understand a word, but I could remember how to say "Sorry, I do not understand. Please speak slowly" = "????????, ? ?? ???????. ??????????, ???????? ????????". Bingo!
    All the best
    Graham Davies
     
  14. This discussion has reminded me of the unusual word in German for “mnemonic”, namely “Eselsbrücke” (“donkey bridge”). The origin of this meaning of the word is connected with the fact that donkeys are afraid of water and will not wade through even the shallowest stream because the reflection of the sky - or themselves - in the water does not enable them to see how deep it is. So, back in the days when donkeys were used as a means of transport, small bridges were built across streams and fords to enable them to cross without fear, i.e. to achieve their goal with a bit of support.
    There’s a board game called “Eselsbrücke” – a memory game, of course!
    Interesting, eh?
    Regards
    Graham Davies
     
  15. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Graham
    Donkeys are afraid of water? I never knew that? And a donkey bridge? Those Germans think of everything.
    Very impressive use of Cyrillic alphabet as well Graham.
    Instilling that love of languages that you have into as many people as possible , particularly schoolkids, is my main aim. It's my only aim. Once you have that you have a snowball effect. I think it's a proven fact that learning languages makes the brain 'grow' if that's the right word. I think it makes you more intelligent. And so has knock on benefits in other subjects. Furthermore I have a a theory that if you know 2 or more languages it is impossible to be a racist. It is normally those people who cling on to their own language so doggedly who seem to have the most closed minds. So this is important stuff.
    What are your theories on the decline of MFL in the modern school curriculum? And can it be halted or reversed?
    Minka
     
  16. Hi Minka
    Having taught both home and abroad for 25 years, I would have to say that there is no magic method to learning vocabulary. Language learning is a discipline and this unfortunately means that once the honeymoon period of learning a new language is over, students start to realise hard work is involved. I used to teach in Adult Education and, to be honest, these students were just as prone to slacking or having learning difficulties as any other students I have taught. You can soon spot a potential linguist: the ones who have a tendency to want to push themselves. Because unless students are prepared to learn work in the traditional way, they will not achieve. And unfortunately for the language teacher in your average 'comp', we are one of the few subjects which require our students to learn work which is often seen as irrelevant by the student, the parents and even, dare I say it, the school's management. When I teach students these days, I have no magic formula. However, I try to do as much pair work as possible to give students real 'practice' and I try to motivate them to learn vocab and grammar the traditional way. However, as stated already, the abilitiy to read lengthy passages and even short books can accelerate vocab acquisition enormously. But what really matters in learning a language are I feel two things: student motivation and time allocation.
     
  17. Various reasons:
    - Languages are perceived as "difficult" - compounded by the recognised problem of severe marking of GCSE exams.
    - Lack of motivation. "Everyone speaks English, don't they?" Well, of course, they don't, but when the average Brit's experience of a foreign environment is a package trip to Spain then you can't avoid coming to that conclusion.
    - Too few hours on the timetable. The Council of Europe reckons you need 350-400 guided learning hours to reach Higher GCSE level, but many schools fall short of this. When I was at secondary school (1953-1961) we had 600 class-contact hours of French before sitting the O-Level exam (which was harder than GCSE). But at that time a foreign language at O-Level was a university entrance requirement, regardless of the subject we intended to study, so we took it seriously. However, foreign languages were also perceived as subjects for posh or clever kids. Secondary modern schools and technical schools tended not to offer foreign languages. The new EBacc may signal a move back towards this situation - which some teachers approve of and others detest.
    - Making a foreign language optional beyond Keystage 3. OK, some teachers welcomed this, as teaching reluctant learners was not a lot of fun, but now it's very difficult to retain the capable kids, who would rather take the soft option of "Meeja Studies".
    - League tables, which did not include a foreign language as a core subject.
    - Classes are too large. Private schools get better results partly as a result of keeping class sizes down.
    It may be too late to reverse the trend, but if employers and colleges (post-16) insisted on their new intake having a foreign language qualification at GCSE level then it might make a difference in the long term. I don't think persuasion or "making languages fun" works. Learning a language up to a level that makes it useful takes hundreds of hours of hard work. Why disguise this fact?
    Regards
    Graham Davies

     
  18. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    It's never too late Graham,
    In the circumstances that teachers of MFL find themselves given all the hindrances they have to put up with, linkword is the only answer in the classroom. But what also needs to be done is to extend the teaching outside the classroom. PE classes need to be held in french for example, as should other classes like music, art, or any subject which would not be hindered by this action. Encouraging kids to bring in sayings or quotations that they like. Get kids to write book reports, film reviews, music reviews of the things they like.
    The main thing to get over is it's perfectly ok to make mistakes. It's almost required. There are tests in linkword but if you get it wrong you do not to beat yourself up about it.
    Obviously the system is for everybody but particularly for those that are preceived as slow language learners. You bring the bottom 50% up to the level of the top 50% and you get a mixed ablity class that is not so mixed. Less frustration all round for teachers and pupils.
    With the pressures of lack of time and lack of resources for MFL I do not think there is any alternative to linkword. It's simple, quick, efficient and yes Graham, fun. It's the silver bullet. Everything else has been tried. For the life of me I still cannot work out why it has not caught on. I've looked for answers everywhere and this forum is my latest port of call.
    I put out a challenge to any teachers out there. Try if for a week if you have not done so already.
    If you have already tried it what were the results?
     
  19. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    In the Saarland 20 years ago, there was a headteacher who insisted that all his teach could teach their two subjects in a foreign language. I remember watching a geography lesson in a school St. Ingbert being taught in English. I was both delighted and ashamed.
     
  20. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Dear Stuart
    Can I please refer you to the forum entitled 'Passing Exam GCSE'. A very interesting discussion about the problems teachers having in getting pupils to get the C in exams that head teachers want under the time limitations that are imposed and actually teaching something that is useful in the real world.
    A lot of discussion about using target language in other classes as well which reflects my views.
    I would not put any limits to it. Not just classes. I would include any activity. Registration at the beginning of the day if they still have it. In the canteen. In music lessons where foreign words are used anyway all the time eg pianissimo etc. In football colours of shirts, equipment, activities - all simple words - could be used in TL. Boys are obviously notoriously against learning a foreign language. You've got to use their interests to help to engender a love of another language. In the 70's Liverpool played St. Etienne who played in a green strip and their fans would sing 'Allez les verts' and what did Liverpool fans reply - 'Allez les rouges'. Which I thought was wonderfull.
    Teachers in other classes may be resistant. But everybody is open to persuasion. Turf wars should not come into it. And they don't have to be MFL teachers themselves. The kids are not going to be reciting vasts tracts from French literature but asking if they can go to toilet or asking someone to pass the ball to them. The ones who play in a team against other schools may choose to use TL as a code so the other team cannot understand what they are saying. Asian footballers use that trick all the time.
    Finally you recognise the value of linkword in the beginner's stage. We can argue about when beginner's stage ends but from the start I have put forward linkword as THE method for beginners. Learners have got to enjoy the process of learning and using a language from day one.
    Learners have got to be treated like babies and I do not mean this in a prejorative sense. You do not admonish a baby for using the wrong "grammar, verb endings, tenses, conjunctions, syntax etc". A parent delights that the baby is using words whether right or wrong and the baby feeds off that.
    The way I see it, a lot of teachers would rather after a month be happier to see 30 words being learned, pronounced correctly and in grammatical order rather than 300 words being recalled and used but perhaps with some mistakes. Which class do you think would have the happier kids.
    That first month to 3 months is crucial for beginners. Once pupils see they are making progress then they become more amenable to structures and rules. Then you will find within themselves the 'dedication, toil and natural talent'. I mean we all have that 'natural talent' for learning languages don't we. We all speak at least one.
    Minka
     

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