Compulsion sparked the crisis

6th December 2002 at 00:00
THE real crisis in language teaching started when it was made compulsory to the age of 16. Thousands of children have been compelled to study a subject which they dislike and which they have resisted strongly. Millions of pounds have been wasted on salaries and resources. More seriously, it has had a disastrous effect on those pupils in the same group who really want to learn.

In addition, it has led to the farce of GCSE, where pupils with very limited knowledge are awarded high grades. They then embark on AS and A2 courses with a consequent lowering of standards.

It is no wonder that universities are complaining because they have to offer courses in basic grammar. Students are today passing A-level who 20 years ago would not have been guaranteed to pass O-level.

If we return to a situation where pupils with a genuine interest and ability study languages, standards should rise, and we might also produce those linguists who are, allegedly, needed to aid the economy.

E Ross

45 Hamilton Road

Colchester, Essex

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