Language in the National Curriculum CD-Rom

Article excerpt


Language in the National

Curriculum CD-Rom

University of Nottingham, 2006,

35 [pounds sterling] available from Rebecca

Peck, School of English Studies,

University of Nottingham,


This CD-ROM contains the original printed, video and audio materials which were produced by the LINC (Language in the National Curriculum) project, an in-service teacher education programme funded by the UK government between 1989-1992. The aim of the project was to help teachers who had no formal experience of studying language deliver KAL (Knowledge About Language) which was being introduced in the original National Curriculum for English.

The project drew on highly respected academic linguists and teachers who worked in partnership to produce study units with specially commissioned video and audio resources. The LINC materials are associated with controversy as the government of the day refused to allow publication because the materials contained an applied linguistic rather than a "naming of the parts" approach to teaching about language. Thus the multi-million pound project materials were distributed through a form of underground publishing for purposes of continuing training. This of course ensured that those teachers who had heard of the materials were eager to access copies and during the early 1990s a ring-bound folder of the A4 sheets was a common sight in most English departments.

At the time, it was not uncommon for academics and teachers to work together to produce academically sound practically applicable teaching materials as evidenced by the National Writing Project and National Oracy Project. But in today's educational climate where teachers are told what to teach, how to teach it, how to assess it, is there a place for materials produced in such a way? Moreover does the model of language within the LINC materials match the description of language in the current National Curriculum for English?

A cynical response to these questions would be 'no'. Teachers are time-impoverished and most INSET is now directed. CPD is becoming entangled with performance management. Knowledge about language does still have a central place within the current National Curriculum for English but the focus appears to have narrowed and LINC's text-based approach has in many cases been replaced by activities looking at word or sentence-level objectives, usually in the form of decontextualised starter activities.

However the cynics would be missing out on an extremely valuable and worthwhile resource. The LINC materials are good. And apart from the out-dated references to Programmes of Study and some of the fashion items in the video materials, they have stood the test of time. Within these times of central prescription, they are invigorating. How refreshing to envisage colleagues in a department meeting to discuss the process of reading, taking part in activities that encourage reflection on their own reading practices before thinking about the purposes of reading and the types of opportunity that a school could and should provide for the readers within their school. And all without referring to one single externally imposed assessment focus. …