Language of waste

29th December 2000 at 00:00
YOUR editorial of December 15 is absolutely correct in stating that giving extra weighting to languages other than French will cause difficulties for some secondary schools. However, unless decisive action to ensure diversity in language learning is taken now, expensive national resources will continue to go wasted until they are no longer available.

When one considers that the number of German teachers available in Scotland fell by a third between 1994 and 1998, and that teachers of languages other than French are facing increasing difficulty finding employment, it becomes clear that national financial resources are being shamefully wasted in deceiving graduates of German, Russian, Italian etc to train as language tachers when they will not find employment in their degree subject.

In order to gain an income, such teachers must study French up to GTC standard and will then probably, like myself, find themselves teaching that language alone. All a teacher's commitment to their degree language is then lost to the nation.

The reason for such waste lies in the fact that languages on offer in schools are currently the responsibility of the headteacher, who has often more immediate concerns than the national ability to make full use of resources. The right place for ensuring diversity in modern language teaching across a region is the local education authority.

James Forbes

Corstorphine High Street, Edinburgh

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