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Poor language

I was interested to read Anne Sofer's article (TES, April 7) on the importance of English teaching for those pupils whose exposure to it is restricted and who therefore may be at a disadvantage when it comes to taking in and expressing new ideas in school.

It comes as no surprise to me that the Department for Education provides little in the way of assistance here; in July 1992 it cut all funding support from the only state-recognised initial teaching qualification in the area, the post-graduate certificate in education in English for speakers of other languages. The students who had completed this course, versions of which were run by several universities in Britain, worked in both the UK state system and overseas in different types of post. They were also able to move from one type of work to another, ensuring fresh perspectives, based on a sound academic footing.

Our colleagues in overseas state systems (one of the teaching practices took place abroad) were amazed on hearing of the DFE's move at a time when other European governments were increasing investment in courses of this nature.

However willing departments are to work in the field of in-service training, it is bound to be far more of a finger-in-the-dyke operation than is a serious one-year preparation for work on language in education.

Serious thought needs to be given by the DFE to funding some type of full-time course of work in this area; the chances are, I suppose, minimal while cuts continue to bite in all other parts of education.

JOHN NORRISH

6 White House Close

Gerrards Cross

Bucks

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