The language of true diversity

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
I AGREE entirely with Caroline Higitt's criticism of the languages action group with regard to diversification (TESS, January 19). She correctly identifies the problem that most recruits to Bed or PGCE (Primary) will have a Credit award in French.

The report argues that teacher education institutions should review their provision and support for languages at primary school including the extent to which they cater for different languages. How does one persuade a Bed student to embark on a course in Italian when only 1 per cent of primary schools teach Italian?

Not only that, but the figure is declining and teachers in some local authorities who were initially trained in Italian are now being retrained in French. Yet recommendation number 6 is that local authorities should generally e responsible for ensuring a diversified provision of first modern language within the authority if not within each school.

The report also states: "Since the diversification of language provision depends heavily on effective cluster arrangements, we recommend that local authorities and schools devote priority attention to this aspect."

But it identifies "an excellent example of combining the benefits of diversification with those of an early start: a small urban primary school starting Spanish in its nursery class".

What about the other schools in the same cluster? What about placing requests from clusters with French? Sadly, these and many other questions remain unanswered.

Daniel Tierney Reader, language education Faculty of Education Strathclyde University

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