Language, please

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Agony Uncleanswers your questions.

I was encouraged by Tomlinson's suggestion that languages could be introduced in some vocational qualifications, but what about my subject, business and finance? The Government wants us to compete economically with our European neighbours but relies on their willingness to speak English for our sakes. In the global market our polyglot neighbours can adapt where we can't, and it doesn't take much to realise who eventually loses out. For my otherwise talented and enthusiastic students, is this fair? A second language should be an essential component of any business course. But even better than that a second language should be compulsory in schools so that college courses have only to build on to already well-established skills.

It makes little sense but the fact is that due to the Government's decision no longer to make a second language compulsory at key stage 4, 42 per cent of today's 14 to 16-year-olds sadly no longer study a language. And what about leisure and tourism? How can you work in this industry without first knowing another language? Rather than pupil A "failing" school, ending up in college and being fobbed off with an "easy" GNVQ that leaves her behind the desk of a high street travel agent, pupil A decides at 14 on a college course relating to the tourist industry and works towards a relevant "bundle" of Level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) qualifications, including a language that prepares her adequately for the chosen college programme, which itself becomes a conduit for a wealth of possible jobs.

Dilemmas should be emailed to Donald Short at

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