Led a German jazz dance

7th February 2003 at 00:00
I have been reading, with some amazement, your article on German in East Ayrshire (TESS, January 10).

It is not necessary to find "innovative ways to make German attractive to young people". German is attractive to young people. It is just not offered in East Ayrshire or is offered only in S3 and to a restricted group - for example, those who have lived in Germany, those who are good at French, those taking it as a second modern language.

"Seven of the council's nine secondary schools run German courses," according to your report. This may be so, but the statement that "eight primaries are doing German" suggests that a more accurate statement would refer to two secondaries offering German to all on an equal basis. Further investigation would show that most German courses have restricted entry as I have mentioned.

"The selling point wasn't the language at all," it seems. In other words, take them abroad in S3 by which time it is too late to start German.

Your report refers to pupils indulging in "physical activities the youngsters were unlikely to be able to enjoy at home", citing windsurfing, swimming, abseiling, hill-walking, jazz dancing, and jogging. Some backwater, this county of East Ayrshire!

The reason that German has "lost its place" is that it was all but removed by the powers that be. Presumably Jean Nisbet, the East Ayrshire quality improvement officer quoted in your article, is one of them. Secondary school German teachers fought a battle and lost. Nursery teachers are currently being "trained" in French and Spanish - no mention here of German.

Many pupils who fail to learn French due to its preponderance of vowel sounds (eg dyslexics) would do better with German. It is also a far more natural language for many children whose mother tongue is Scottish.

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