Talking languages;Letter

19th February 1999 at 00:00
AS A tutor full and part-time since the pilot days of the modern languages in the primary school (MLPS) initiative, I would like to applaud John Muir's article (TESS, February 12).

Working in three modern European languages across a wide geographical area, I would add my support to his contention that the current in-service training - and I applaud too the class teachers in their professional and personal commitment to it - is "only a mid-term measure".

There is, however, a need to elaborate on what might be meant by pre-service training. Already we are beginning to witness the reascendancy of French and an erosion of the excellent start in diversification in MLPS.

Will there be a guarantee that the teacher education institutions will create courses designed to maintain and expand upon the current diversity of early foreign language learning?

Could not the training colleges instigate courses which, while based on one (or why not two?) languages, would address such broader questions as the place of foreign language teaching at early stages and common methodologies? Such teachers would then have more flexible employment opportunities and would be able to exploit any focused input from language specialists.

In his last paragraph, John Muir reiterates a well worn complaint about top-down programming. I know that in my authority, the work completed at the end of the pilot stage which consisted of some 40 classroom activities simply presented is a resource welcomed by those as an addition to the fuller Scottish Office material. We cannot be alone. Will the action group have time to explore chalkface initiatives?

David Phin Schoolhouse, Palnackie Castle Douglas

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