10th March 2000 at 00:00
"WHAT'S THE POINT?" Staffordshire Languages Group. pound;28+VAT. Available from David Winter, Newcastle College, Liverpool Road, Newcastle, Staffs ST5 2DF

I bang on about it all the time but they need to hear it from someone other than me."

"Anything is better than my voice with these kids."

These heartfelt sentiments, uttered recently by languages teachers desperately looking for ways to halt the drift from languages after the options stage, highlight the need for materials such as this promotional video.

It's not cheap - at pound;28 for an 11-minute video many departments will think twice before making the outlay - but the returns will justify such extravagance.

The reasons why youngsters choose to drop languages as soon as possible are complex and varied, but anything which sets out to counter the tren is to be welcomed. In a series of slickly-edited conversations, soundbites, and sketches it repeats its point that languages are good for you. The pace is lively - no scene lasts longer than a few seconds.

One moment we see a British xenophobe shouting and gesticulating in a continental bar, the next a concerned Sir Trevor McDonald doing a good job of sounding as if he is on the kids' level. There are interesting extracts from young people who have found, often to their surprise, that they are in jobs where languages are required.

Often the students address the camera directly, urging, from one angle or another, that the viewers keep up their languages.

Unashamed propaganda it may be, but it will be welcomed by many departments hoping to reverse the current alarming trend.

Richard Marsden

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