Language pluses

26th January 2001 at 00:00
Jack McConnell gave a preview this week (page five) of the European Year of Languages, which is to be officially launched in Sweden. He broke into French, command of which he is pledged to improve as an example to us all. Had he been Education Minister a year ago, he would not have had to admit to the need for self-improvement: it was Maths Year 2000, and Mr McConnell is a former maths teacher.

The TESS Curriculum Special last week reported that Maths Year had been a great success, with the momentum being maintained into this year, though putting any figures on that would be a real mathematical challenge. At least Mr McConnell has a coherent, long-term programme to evaluate - and fund. He has promised a response by March to the Mulgrew report on school teaching of languages.

Theconference that framed his speech on Monday appeared to agree that relevance is a key factor in language learning. English speakers have a problem not shared by, say, the Dutch and the Danes. While they are busy successfully mastering our idioms, we sit pat confidently assuming that when push comes to shove (one of those tricky idioms), everyone around the world will address us in English. That is not the case as exporters know.

A good introduction to languages in primary is better than forced study to the end of S4. That is the basis of the Mulgrew report whose cost in terms of training ought to figure in the post-McCrone programme for revamped initial teacher education and continuing professional development. For once, the means may be easier to find than the motivation.


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now