Happy new year for languages

1st January 1999 at 00:00
I AM a modern language graduate teaching in a state secondary school who would like not to read or hear any more slighting references to primary teachers who receive 27 days training before delivering a foreign language.

How is it that I receive pupils from primaries with spontaneous use of French in the classroom, improved listening skills and joyful expectation of success in S1?

Could it be that primary teachers are professionals adapting and using knowledge about early literacy and language teaching derived from delivering the first language?

A degree in a specialist subject is a sign of lopsided development unless it is accompanied by a willingness to learn in a wider context and from whoever has insight.

Stirling University's vice-principal, Professor Sally Brown, wrote: "It seems to me we should think about language in a more integrated way with English, but we tend not to."

If we are to build on skills and knowledge which pupils already have in order to achieve success in S1S2 we would be well advised to link explicitly the knowledge about language with which pupils come to us, transferring skills just as their teachers have done.

The Scottish Office Action Group are dedicated people whom I trust to take a view of language teaching unfettered by sector boundaries. My investigations show that they will be liaising with development officers at the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum and development groups containing a mixture of experienced classroom teachers.

I am not modest about my skills nor slow to point out how hard my colleagues and I labour. But my optimism derives from seeing myself as part of a learning campus accommodating teachers, tutors, lecturers, researchers and teacher-trainers. Cooperation will surely see us create a brighter language-learning world.

Moira Edmunds

Assistant principal teacher in charge of French, Arbroath Academy

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