German - Auf Wiedersehen?

13th February 2009 at 00:00

German teachers believe the future of their subject is "bleak" because it is being squeezed out by Spanish and Gaelic.

A study by Petra McLay, a principal teacher of modern languages in Fife, also blames dwindling interest on the perception that German is not a useful language. Feedback submitted by 33 schools in Scotland reveals that teachers are "rather emotional" about the state of their subject.

Higher entries dropped by a quarter between 2003 and 2008, from 1,908 to 1,459. Performance was high as German was being studied by able pupils, often as a second modern language. While Higher German was offered in 88 per cent of respondents' schools, almost half did not teach the subject in S1.

The teachers fear it will be replaced entirely as French retains its popularity and Spanish becomes more widespread. They bemoan a "lack of support" from authorities while other languages flourish. "The future of German, according to the respondents, is bleak in Scottish secondary schools," the report states. "Participants demand the removal of the French hegemony and the establishment of diversity in modern languages departments across Scotland."

Some respondents say German is in more danger where Gaelic is offered, since it receives a lot of funding and publicity and, as a result, reduces the money available for other languages.

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