Special thinking

16th June 2000 at 01:00
MODERN LANGUAGES FOR ALL. By Hilary McColl. David Fulton pound;14

The issue of "inclusion", if not properly planned and resourced, causes untoldmayhem in language departments up and down the country and is one of the biggest single causes of stress within the profession as well as a deterrent to would-be entrants. This book tackles a hot issue and its appearance is timely.

The author draws on more than 30 years' experience as a language teacher in special as well as mainstream schools and nails her colours to the mast from the outset.

A champion of "Languages for All" - long before it became national policy - she makes a compelling case for some form of foreign language learning to be available to all pupils, the crux being that the content and methodology of the teaching should be appropriate.

The book's content ranges across theoretical and ideological issues, such as what the most disadvantaged learners gain from language learning, and "contexts for learning", to discussion of common disablities and difficulties and practical suggestions on how to approach these.

Implications for management and resourcing are discussed and there are sections covering lesson planning as well as teaching and learning styles.

Despite the wealth of useful advice some issues still remain at the level of theory. Sadly there is relatively little about pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and the admonition to "avoid poor acoustics" when your class contains hearing-impaired pupils may be easier said than done in many establishments.

Busy teachers may find the repeated exhortation to "prepare such-and-such in advance" confirms their worst fears about the extra workload this approach entails.

Nevertheless the book would make a useful resource - perhaps for an in-service training day - and deserves to be widely read and discussed by teachers.

Richard Marsden is an independent advisory teacher and writer Talking about lifestyles in 'Fusee 1' unit 9: 'Faire des courses'


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