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Years away from a full picture

Despite the upbeat findings, the AAP survey does not provide a full picture since it was conducted before the revised 5-14 guidelines on modern languages were introduced, before the Mulgrew committee's recommendations for an "entitlement" to modern language learning had kicked in and before the effects of the Government's funding support were known.

The report is restrained in its support for the new 5-14 guidelines, describing them as no more than "generally adequate". It goes on to suggest that they have not taken account of the latest research on how people acquire a second language, both in learning and psychological terms.

"Future developments in modern languages will need to take account of this challenging evidence and of more complex models of progression in language learning than those currently in use," the report states.

"Developments in Europe should also be taken into account, most notably the common European framework which is based on the notion of 'proficiency'

rather than attainment."

The framework operates in more than 50 countries across a wide range of languages.

The Executive staged the first of three conferences to promote "good practice in language learning" on Tuesday in Aberdeen. The other venues are Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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