Entry barrier perpetuates status quo in languages

16th February 1996 at 00:00
There are a number of obvious solutions to the problems reported in Brendan O'Malley's article "Shortages prolong supremacy of French", (TES, February 2).

As a German native with degree qualifications in English and French as well as my own language, now on a PGCE course in foreign languages, I cannot understand why it would have been impossible for me to get on to my course if I had not been qualified in French. This entry barrier perpetuates the status quo. I know a number of well-qualified native speakers of other languages, with three or four languages to offer, who cannot train because they do not bring a French language qualification.

Very often trainee teachers find mentors for languages other than French difficult to come by for the simple reason that specialists in these languages are not trained initially. It's a vicious circle.

One of the things that strikes me very strongly in the UK, as distinct from my own country, is the strict compartmentalisation of subjects which is perpetuated through the school system into university and then on through teacher training. It's impossible, for example, for a teacher to combine a science with a language or English with a foreign language in secondary school. Such combinations are quite common in Germany's education system and they enable far more effective cross-curricular activity.

MARION EVANS 4 Park Lane Southwick, West Sussex

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