Going German;Letter

30th July 1999 at 01:00
I WOULD like to comment on the report, "New Euro rules axe language breaks" (TESS, July 9). For many years the Goethe-Institut has been running courses, in Germany, for teachers from various countries.

Nobody would object to this idea, in principle. Why then do we apply different strategies for Scottish primary teachers for whom, since 1997, two-week courses are held in Bremen during the autumn holidays?

International courses have to rely on the target language as the only means of communication. Often a near native competence of the language will be expected. This is simply not a realistic concept for Scottish primary teachers after 27 days of training.

Very few of them ever apply for scholarships for international courses. At the same time, the special courses for Scottish groups are oversubscribed. There the teachers are entitled to a programme as specific to their known needs as possible, based on realistic linguistic expectations.

An experienced tutor for Modern Languages in the Primary School (MLPS) is one of the seminar leaders.

Scotland has the advantage of a national policy on MLPS, a national training programme and excellent links to the countries of the target language. In which other European country do the same conditions apply?

Whereas teaching German at secondary level has a very long history, the teaching of modern languages in the primary school is a relatively new development in many European countries, and practice varies greatly.

Comparisons are certainly fascinating, but to really help teachers and their pupils we should give teachers a chance to efficiently improve their confidence and practical knowledge of the target language and the country in which it is spoken.

(Dr) Ingrid Koster Head of language department Goethe-Institut 3 Park Circus Glasgow

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