The articles and editorial comment on the teaching of modern languages in Scottish schools (TESS, January 23) made interesting if somewhat dispiriting reading. One aspect that was of particular relevance was the call by several people for more to be done during the pre-service training of teachers, particularly for primary teaching.
When the bachelor of education course at the University of Paisley's faculty of education at the Craigie campus in Ayr was last validated we decided to place matters European and the issue of modern languages centrally within the core course. To that end all second-year BEd students have two modules which deal with the European dimension, with a specific modern language input in each module. In total all students have 30 hours of contact time on modern languages.
While this is not a vast amount of time it is a significant commitment within the course given the competing priorities that we have to balance - literacy, numeracy and, very clearly of late, health education.
I am very pleased to report that this commitment to modern languages has paid dividends and I have seen a number of second-year students teaching modern language lessons while they have been on school experience. In year four of the course students have another opportunity to develop their expertise in this field as we offer a modern languages advanced level option which is a full 150-hour module. This year 23 students out of a year group of 73 have taken this option, which is an extremely healthy number.
As well as being interested and committed to the subject, many of these students are thinking of what particular specialities they will be able to highlight when they start seeking employment, and they see having modern language teaching skills as a very clear selling point.
This information will be of interest to many readers including those in the various authorities expressing concern about modern languages teaching, plus headteachers making appointments and potential applicants for primary teaching courses.
BEd course co-ordinator Craigie campus, Paisley University