Language troops are ready for battle

17th September 2010 at 01:00

I was disappointed to read the headlines chosen by TES Cymru to accompany your item on declining entries for foreign language examinations: "Pupils shun foreign languages because they 'can't see the point'" (September 10).

The strapline ("Exam entries plummet amid fears that compulsory Welsh is turning students off") implied strongly that there is a causal link between compulsory Welsh in schools and the decline in modern foreign languages (MFL), whereas I had made it quite clear that it is the plethora of subject options available within 14-19 Learning Pathways which is the major challenge for MFL. Those involved in the teaching of history or geography would probably agree with me.

It is true that too few pupils see foreign languages as being relevant or "vocational" subjects, such is the perception in UK society that you can "get by" in English wherever you go in the world.

It is for us in the MFL corner to come out fighting to counter such myths, and to provide study options that make it far easier for youngsters to see the point of learning another language.

CILT Cymru is currently piloting an NVQ scheme in five languages which is beginning to do just that, while our Business Language Champions scheme introduces pupils to businesses where foreign language skills are needed on a daily basis.

Ceri James, Director, CILT Cymru (The National Centre for Languages), Cardiff.

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