Letters Extra: Wonderful sentiments - but the reality?

17th January 2003 at 00:00

Wonderful sentiments: we can make more children bi-lingual, let's increase the pool of young people with proficient use of a range ofnbsp;languages, early enthusiasm for learning languages will lead to betternbsp;language learners.

Is there any evidence here or elsewhere in the world that the proposed strategies will change our attitudes to language learning and the use ofnbsp;other languages? I can't find it.

My experience as languages teacher and reflection with teachers in a number of countries is that the strongest motivators for language learningnbsp;are exposure to exciting and fun music; film and other art forms;nbsp;thought-provoking challenges to thinking and behaviour; high esteem ofnbsp;role models in different walks of life; and a need to use the language atnbsp;work, college or university to achieve status.

If we started to plan ahead from those premises, maybe we would focus on a very different strategy from the one advocated by the Government.

Thenbsp;benefits would not be as immediate, perhaps, but they would be broader andnbsp;involve all of us in a re-evaluation of 'foreign' languages and how their use can make our lives more fulfilling, enjoyable and even exciting!

At the moment we are fiddling about with the same old ideas about foreign language teaching that were being discussed and promoted when I wasnbsp;training to be a teacher 35 years ago!
Tim Bos
Mountfields Drive

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