A long way to go on languages;Leading Article;Opinion

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
THE draft modern languages curriculum (page five) comes complete with a familiar array of strands and attainment targets. That signifies the intention to integrate language teaching with the rest of the 5-14 programme. Indeed, with most schools introducing another language in P6, the review and development group has made a starting point with the child's concept of language itself - that is, in the work done from pre-school onwards.

The targets for each level appear ambitious. Such is the poor level of competence attained by many pupils at the end of S2 that their teachers would be happy if they could match the targets now suggested for levels C and D in the primary school. But the Government's purpose in focusing so much attention on language learning is to raise standards, and one should not complain about high aspiration.

Ensuring achievement is another matter. The review group did not have to consider teacher training or resource materials. Both are key components and are the province of the wider action group chaired by John Mulgrew. The terms of the curriculum report, however, make formidable the challenge to the action group and the Scottish Executive.

Teachers primary and secondary, specialist and non-

specialist will also feel challenged. Mainstreaming language teaching in primary means it takes on a new dimension of seriousness. Research showed a sizeable number of schools had mislaid the previous guidelines or knew nothing about them. As for secondary teachers, the minimal level of progress in S1 and S2 will no longer suffice.

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