Let's talk about languages

15th February 2013 at 00:00

I thank Judith McClure for making my point for me ("Let's talk language policies", 8 February). She supports language learning. Antonella Sorace, Brian Templeton and I also support it, but the report is "unclear" about what that means.

Antonella's expertise relates to bilingualism, but the situation of a three-year-old Polish child in Scotland is completely different from classroom learning.

Judith spoke about learning a little Chinese, but will that meet the economic arguments being put forward? We are a long way from Chinese being taught from 5-15.

I do not know how many state primary schools Judith and Antonella have visited, but I do know from my own research that there are significant problems in the existing model at P6.

The research evidence also does not support a P1 start, even if the teachers and schools were ready for that challenge. Add the fact that we could have 32 different local models, with teachers and pupils moving around, and we see the complexity of the situation.

We need clearer objectives before we start throwing millions of pounds at this latest initiative. I urged the MSPs to speak to their primary teachers; I hope they do.

Daniel Tierney, reader in language education, University of Strathclyde.

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