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Don't speak ill of language teachers

YOUR front-page story (TES, November 22) confirmed the research findings of the Association for Language Learning earlier in the year. School managers are making early and damaging decisions about curriculum planning for languages in the light of the Green Paper proposals.

Your leader comment, however, made sharp criticisms of language teachers for poor standards of teaching. No one can dispute the statistics in the Office for Standards in Education report, but these bald figures do not tell the whole story.

Although languages may still not compare well with some other subjects assessed by Ofsted, in the past few years the number of language classes assessed as good has in fact risen steadily. More children than ever are studying languages to GCSE, and GCSE results have improved year on year.

All this in spite of a severe teacher shortage and a significant reduction in the number of language advisers and advisory teachers, so that some parts of the country have no local source of support or information.

Like every other subject, language teaching has its problems, but if we are to encourage children to learn more languages for longer, then it is time to stop blaming teachers.

It is also time for the Government to offer some constructive policies for learning and teaching, which in comparison with our European neighbours suffers so badly in terms of time and financial allocation.

This is what we hope to see in the delayed National Languages Strategy.

Steven Fawkes


Linda Parker


Association for Language Learning

150 Railway Terrace, Rugby

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