Two fine letters (19 December) raised real concerns about which, if any, modern language could best be thrust at current primary (or even nursery!) and then secondary school pupils.
I am a very, very poor linguist, and although I passed Latin and French, and got through conversational German at the Glasgow Goethe Institute, I have forgotten nearly all of it.
I can just about manage shopping and ordering meals in countries where they speak French and German.
Deep philosophical, economic or political conversations and reading have always been beyond me, so I have to wonder what is the point of giving pupils basically a smattering of a language when we need deep immersion for international use.
The letters’ points about French being of rather historical interest, and about English (not just Latin) grammar not being taught now, thus complicating learning German, emphasise that most youngsters will probably not get much out of any languages, and I fear that we ought to focus on getting only those with aptitude and desire to pursue them from an early age.
Yet how is it that in a country like Norway virtually everyone speaks and understands pretty good English?
Inserting more language teaching into any school level definitely needs more thought, and raises another question: would this displace the essential literacy, mathematics and scientific disciplines’ learning requirements so requested by further and higher education institutions and employers?
Then Gaelic has to be fitted in. The designers of the Curriculum for Excellence should have another look, and take on board Mandarin and Arabic too.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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