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Where have all the good linguists gone?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by cardiganlover, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. I am amazed! I run a small business and I thought there was a shortage of jobs for good linguists in my area, but I simply cannot find anyone to fill my jobs!
    Do you think this could be the drop in language uptake filtering through? As a new employer I find this a very worrying situation. We MUST get some decent linguists through our schools and out into the workforce.
    I used to work as a secondary MFL teacher, but obviously don't anymore so I'd be interested in hearing some teachers' views on the take-up of A level languages and the interest level of pupils in general towards a career in languages.
    What's going on?!
     
  2. I am amazed! I run a small business and I thought there was a shortage of jobs for good linguists in my area, but I simply cannot find anyone to fill my jobs!
    Do you think this could be the drop in language uptake filtering through? As a new employer I find this a very worrying situation. We MUST get some decent linguists through our schools and out into the workforce.
    I used to work as a secondary MFL teacher, but obviously don't anymore so I'd be interested in hearing some teachers' views on the take-up of A level languages and the interest level of pupils in general towards a career in languages.
    What's going on?!
     
  3. There are a number of factors at play here.
    1. MFL A levels are perceived as being more difficult than most. This puts off students and schools are only to happy to discourage further. Schools steer students towards other 'easier' subjects.
    2. Top flight students are encouraged to take STEM subjects.
    3. MFL does not seem to have the same prestige as it once did. Certainly when I was a sixth former the 2 most prestigeous roots were either science or MFL.
    4. Many students lack role models/ family members who have studied MFL. In my social circle which includes several MFL graduates and others who study and/or speak languages other than English, we have a number of sproggs studying MFL A levels/ MFL degrees.
     
  4. Thanks for your reply Otter,
    Thoroughly depressing, isn't it? I think your point about role-models is especially true of my part of the world (North East)
    I thought I would have been swamped with replies as it would suit a lot of final-year languages students and even mums looking for part time work. I've advertised in all of the local universities and still nothing. Perhaps it's a work ethic thing too?
     
  5. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

  6. Grrrr! I despair! Don't get me started on league tables, SATS, target setting and all the other reasons I left school life behind!
    I'm deserately trying to promote language learning in a difficult area of the country to do so, I have customers ready, waiting and motivated and no decent linguists so I'm a bit stuck :(
     
  7. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    The economics of it keep A level out of my school: they will not run an AS course for fewer than 10 students: being optional, I tend to get 30 out of approx 110 opting for GCSE and then 5 or 6 want to continue but it isn't enough to justify the cost. (or so I am told)
     
  8. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    Here in the NE (I hear) colleges have been dropping MFL courses for sometime. Again, don't quote me on this, but students who want to take an A level in a language, certainly in my LA, have to go to a school with a 6th form rather than to a college. I've had a number of Y11s in the past who have wanted to do A level Spanish but there simply hasn't been anywhere for them to do it. Of all the Y11s I've taught in the past, I can only think of 2 who have done pure MFL degrees.

    Your story, cardiganlover, is exactly the sort of PR that languages need in this part of the country. It is worth studying it, because you can get a job using it, and there are people looking for the skills right now. You should contact all the universities and colleges to try to snap up some graduates.

    Good luck!
     
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I think that cardiganlover and I are wrong in one crucial respect. We have mistakenly believed that education is about broadening minds and horizons and preparing children for the world of work, by equipping them with the knowledge and skills that they will need and much more besides. That is no longer the case. It is now about something for nothing and celebrating mediocrity as excellence.
    Other threads on the MLF forum have plenty of posts that will testify to that.
     
  10. It's impossible to say without knowing:
    a) where you are based
    b) what kind of role you have to fill
    c) how much you are prepared to pay for it
    d) what kind of experience you need in your employees
    e) whether the figure in c) is enough for prospective employees
    f) where you are advertising your roles
    g) who you are competing with for employees
    and so on. I don't think anyone can comment meaningfully without that kind of information.

    Well, must we ? In my 30 years experience in industry, I've seen precious little demand for pure linguists, outside of a few niche areas, and precious little evidence that language knowledge is any great advantage for specialists to acquire. In addition, I've also seen painfully low rates of pay for at least some language specialists (in translation, for example).
    I've also seen evidence that many companies have significant access to enough bi- or multi-lingual people from EU countries, and that a UK graduate in say, French, will struggle to compete against, say, a bi-lingual French or German engineer, who can cover both the technical and linguistic needs of a company.


     
  11. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    What are your hourly rates?
    I've seen adverts for linguists for tele-sales jobs for the minimum wage!
    I can get £32 an hour doing supply so why would I apply?
     
  12. I have contacted local universities and I am starting to get some replies now, albeit slowly! Without going into too much detail (I don't want to get into trouble and be seen as advertising here) I am advertising for a range of positions; part time permanent jobs (great for postgrads and mums!), graduate training schemes and franchising; all with their own rates of pay etc but in line with supply and none of that getting up in the morning wondering where you're going.
    It's the part time jobs I'm finding the hardest to fill. I thought there would be loads of students / postgrads / mums out there who would love a part time job with no reponsibilities and no planning!
    Fingers crossed thing improve ;)
     
  13. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    It sounds right up my street!
    Except, unfortunately, it isn't because I don't live in the North East [​IMG]
     
  14. Up my street as well! What's the job? Can we work from home?
     
  15. You say that mfl is perceived as being more difficult ..... I actually think it is. Few other subjects require the same intense level of constant preparation, rote learning, recall of vocab, thinking skills, imagination and nerve! Because of the undoubtedly harder work, pupils resent this and if invited to drop something so demanding do so. Teachers have an uphill battle to persuade pupils against doing so when their own parents support their precious offspring's decision about options. With so little real need seen by pupils for language skills and with easier options open to them, then it is not surprising that they vote with their feet. The massive sea change necessary nation-wide has long been overdue. In current climes where pupil voice is everything, and responsible adults conspire to allow pupils to choose what they enjoy I fear for the future uptake in languages.
     
  16. Dunteachin & Parisgirl I have inboxed you.
    Well said msmorris....I was in a primary school last week and we were discussing the topics they were going to do next term and I was told that they didn't know as the pupils hadn't chosen it yet.....I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing as I don't have enough information, but I was a little taken aback. I think the idea of pupil voice has gone a little too far in some quarters. I also deeply disagree with pupils from the student council being asked their views on interview candidates....one of my ex-heads listened a little too carefully when recruiting my replacement andhas lived to regret it I think.
    I know I've gone a bit off-topic here and I'm rambling a little but your post made my thoughts meander!


     
  17. Hi
    I'm British and teach music and EFL in Switzerland. Of course Swiss kids think English is cool!
    When I first came here in 1998, I remember seeing an absolutely brilliant accordionist playing on the street wearing a placard "Former Music Teacher - Kiev".
    What's my point? Of course there's no perceivable need for British kids to learn any other language at present. They don't need second languages to get what they want. Big multi nationals therefore often base their Euro HQs in Holland, because the Dutch are by contrast and demand good at so many european languages. Britain is surrounded by sea and we understand American, but the Dutch have a minor own language and are surrounded by three other major European languages. However, things may not always be so rosy in Europe and then we'll all see the need for us to learn for example Mandarin!
    I've already planned the layout of my "Former Swiss Music Teacher" placard and have been brushing up on the accordion. I reckon playing squeeze box on Bejing streets will be better than cleaning the house of a 'nouveau riche'.
    (not really!)
    Regards
     

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