Cutting foreign language opportunities in school and downplaying the importance of proficiency in a foreign language greatly diminishes America’s ability to operate in the modern, fast-paced, globalized world.

I think I have said before that the world is shrinking as people move around.  Today rather than town to town they move country to country and not necessarily to the nearest country to themselves it can often be at the opposite side of the world. This news article discusses one persons feeling about this and the role that languages play in communication.

The statements below can apply to the UK and similar countries as well as the USA

It has been a source of pride and a political point for many that English is the “official” language of the United States and those who come to our borders should learn the language. But as a country that wants to continue to be a world leader, we will need to be very serious about pushing our students to be proficient if not fluent in at least two languages.

It is not un-American to be bilingual and it is not a sign of defeat to have bilingual signs. If anything, it makes us stronger as a nation. After neglecting this issue for generations, it is time to turn our educational system around and place learning a foreign language as one of the most important aspects of an education. Learning a foreign language in the United States needs to move out of the “elective” realm and into the realm of “core subject.

To become truly global citizens then language has to have a place in school curriculums and current discussion should be looking at the sort and types of languages that should be supported in schools.  For me the choice is easy support everyone who arrives with a language other than English to keep their previous languages and learn English. For all learners learn at least one language although from my experience the nearer languages are together the better for the learner to realise that each is not something totally new but  connect with each other.

I was lucky in school to learn French, German and Latin which I loved.  The Latin was great because it helped me understand English more. Recently I have done a lot of work in Italian, with an Italian translator, and can immediately see the benefits of learning both languages together and I think it would make learning a  langauge less scary. We should look globally at the languages most needed by global citizens and then find a way of supporting this via school curriculums.

As Adam Hogue says quite succinctly

America is in constant transition. With higher populations of minority groups becoming more dominant in the American landscape, we as a country should be a land of many national languages, not just one. Schools should be moving towards bilingual education in all subjects and students should be able to pursue an education in a variety of languages. Language has the power to change the perception of a person as well as a nation. This should not be forgotten as America continues to define our place in the global landscape.

As I study Hanguel, I am really trying to make up for lost time. I want to pick up a second language with more proficiency than I have in French, a language in which I can only rattle off a few verbs. It is up to the Millennial generation to place foreign language as the centerpiece of American education in the 21st century. Making that change will change other countries’ perception of America and l make America a better place to conduct business and study. Whether it be Mandarin, Vietnamese, French, Spanish,

Hanguel or Indonesian; a foreign language is key in our rapidly globalizing world.

http://www.policymic.com/mobile/articles/16126/why-cutting-foreign-language-classes-in-schools-would-hurt-future-generations-of-americans

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Language Information point Speaker Catherine Cheater Education Show 2012

Here is a really small video showing Catherine Cheater from Golden Daffodils teaching how to teach children French vocabulary using actions.

” renewed focus on language skills at school is needed” John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce

Sometimes when engaged purely in Education it is easier to forget the wider world and the wider implications of why were are teaching a particular subject.  I was always aware being a secondary teacher that my students would possibly be working in Design, Programming,Engineering or Architectural type areas, not least because as well as teaching GCSE, A Level there was always NVQ teaching of skills that was part of my teaching role.  However for some they never think beyond the next exam and in primary often thought only about primary tests and not about the whole child and their future prospects.

With that in mind I thought that this information may be of use for those looking outside the box for reasons that languages should be taught and bilingualism and multilingualism should be embraced.

This is current from the Norfolk Chamber of Trade and shares the benefits to businesses about the importance of communicating with exporters in their language. Here is the link to the article:

http://www.norfolkchamber.co.uk/export/export-news/boost-exports-further-improving-businesses-language-skills-and-international

I am pleased that the Primary Languages Classroom Awards supports language developement to enable or children to be able to function on the world’s stage. Below is the article in full.

A survey of over 8,000 businesses released by the British Chambers of Commerce, shows that exporting activity continues to increase. However, the findings also suggest that providing firms with more training in foreign languages, and increasing their exposure to international companies would encourage more business owners to export. Economic growth relies upon British businesses being able to export more, so the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for more support for firms to help them trade internationally.

Language skills are vital to exporting

Knowledge of other languages is an important skill for exporters. 61% of non-exporters that are likely to consider trading internationally consider a lack of language skills as a barrier to doing so.

However, of those business owners that claim some language knowledge, very few can speak well enough to conduct deals in international markets. French is the most commonly spoken language, with 73% of business owners claiming some knowledge. However, only four percent are able to converse fluently enough in French to conduct business deals. This number drops significantly for those languages spoken in the fastest growing markets. In 2012, the IMF projects that the Chinese economy will grow by 9.5%, but just four percent of business owners claim any knowledge of the language, with less than one percent confident they could converse fluently.

Re-establishing foreign languages as core subjects within the UK national curriculum and in workplace training would mean that the next generation of business owners are ‘born global’ with language skills. The BCC is calling for the National Curriculum to be revised so that studying a foreign language is compulsory until AS level. Businesses could also be helped in training staff in new languages, if the government offered additional financial incentives such as tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses that make a significant investment in language training.

Businesses with stronger international connections are more likely to export

Businesses that do export are more likely to have stronger social connections with overseas markets. When asked what led them to export, the top three reasons cited by current exporters were:  collaboration with overseas partners (71%); a chance enquiry from outside the UK (57%); and previous work experience abroad (52%). Those business owners that have lived abroad are more likely to export. 11% of current exporters have lived aboard for five years or more.

The BCC believes that creating opportunities for employees to work in overseas companies could help expose firms to more international opportunities. For example, an international business exchange programme, perhaps modeled on the well-known academic Erasmus scheme would allow employees to complete placements in companies abroad, and bring back their experience to their employer. A scheme that covered BRIC economies, as well as Europe, would mean that businesses could take advantage of fast growing markets as well as the eurozone.

Commenting on the findings of the report, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Exporting is good for Britain, so it is right that we should encourage current and future business owners to develop the necessary skills to trade overseas. We’re encouraged to see the percentage of firms exporting in our survey has increased from 22% in January 2011 to 32% in January 2012. Exports are equivalent to nearly 30% of UK GDP[1], but more can be done to help businesses take the first step to exporting. Encouraging companies to boost foreign language skills with incentives like tax credits is just one way of making sure we continue to export best of British products and services around the world. A renewed focus on language skills at school, as well as helping companies forge new connections overseas, could help ensure that current and future business owners are pre-disposed to thinking internationally.

“We are already the sixth largest trading nation on earth, and the third largest service exporter, but to really secure our future as a leading exporter we need to help companies take advantage of new markets. Giving businesses the opportunity to forge links with international firms, develop employees’ language skills, and providing compulsory education in languages for young people will transform many of the great businesses we have in the UK into success stories overseas.”

 

School in Devon reports its language teaching to parents

For anyone not sure how to report to parents here is an example from a school in Devon. I hope thy enter the Primary language awards this autumn, they look like worthy competitors.

http://www.moretonhampstead.devon.sch.uk/parents/reports/MFL%20Report%202012.pdf

MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGE CURRICULUM REPORT FOR PARENTS

2011-2012

French continues to be taught weekly by Mrs Holding in Easdon, Shapley,

Mardon and Butterdon.

This term the children will be hosting a visit from a parent who is a native

German speaker. A native French speaker has already visited and took an

active part in some French sessions. The children enjoyed sharing an

afternoon with two visiting children from France this term.

The twinning link with Betton has provided a great opportunity for the children

to develop their cultural understanding and the purpose of learning French.

There has been the opportunity to correspond with the Betton children, giving

a real purpose to writing French. The more able Year 6 linguists have been

required to write more fully and act as a role model in terms of eg accent for

the other children.

The school’s assessment procedures have been developed and regular

assessment is now made on the three strands in the Framework for oracy,

literacy and intercultural understanding. This ensures that the children’s

learning is meeting their particular needs.

For the next academic year, the school plans to:

  • Develop its teaching of French phonics through a new resource called Take 10 Phonics
  • Continue to strengthen the link with Betton and use this as a meaningful learning resource.

June 2012

 

http://www.moretonhampstead.devon.sch.uk/parents/reports/MFL%20Report%202012.pdf

Advice for my first MFL lesson as an NQT – UK

I saw this and wondered if anyone had any ideas to suggest.

Hi All,  I am starting my NQT job next week and am looking for some advice, particularly regarding my introductory lesson with each class. I definitely want to do something on classroom rules. I just wondered if anybody has done this successfully before and how you went about it? Did you use the TL throughout or stay in English?  Thanks for your help, H

Reply at: http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/585859.aspx

Personally I think with all first lessons you should establish your expectations and where possible involve them in the rule setting.  However know the schools rules otherwise  they could try to trip you up.

It’s also good to let them know why they have to be followed i.e. they want everyone to listen to them when it is their turn etc. Also what the sanctions are if they are not followed, again quote school procedure and be prepared to follow through anything you say. Your confidence and tone will let them know that you mean it.

Remember that it also fine to put it on the lesson plan and take the time it needs to establish your rules. After this quickly praise anyone following through the right way usually 5 praises to a negative works.

MFL French Good Practice – Scotland

At last I have an MFL story which discusses good practice in teaching French from a Scottish School.  You can find the opening paragraphs below and then the link if you want to read more.

TES Scotland, the leading magazine for the education profession in Scotland, has an article of 1st June 2012 – Fruit from The Skills Tree– demonstrating a highly developmental innovation.

The article takes takes Kilmodan Primary school in Glendaruel to show how this innovation – The Skills Tree – by ‘education development officer’ Aileen Goodall, is working in its current P6 and P7 pilot, for which Kilmodan is one of the chosen schools.

On the way to that core topic, the journalist mentions that  on arrival at the school, the children are rehearsing a production of Red Riding Hood – in French and for a UNESCO event in Glasgow. Unsurprisingly, the school has won an award for the quality of its French teaching – with even maths sometimes taught through that medium, for variety of language development.

http://forargyll.com/2012/06/major-success-for-argyll-and-bute-council-education-staff-and-for-kilmodan-school/