Teaching Methods Are All a Different Language to Me

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), August 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

Teaching Methods Are All a Different Language to Me


Byline: PETER ELSON

WITH tension mounting as Liver pool races towards holding the title for European Capital of Culture in 2008 how do we shape up on the old lingo front?

Especially after the doom and gloom that was predicted after the ending of compulsory language teaching in secondary schools. Would Britain descend even further into its lazy reliance on being users of a world language bequeathed by the Empire and now bolstered by the US?

Well, not entirely. There has been a rise in the teaching of foreign languages at primary school level. That's the hope, rather than the reality, as promoted by the Education Department after its decision to abandon compulsory foreign languages for the over-14 year olds two years ago. Instead, in the belief that younger children are more receptive to learning languages, the Government is bringing it in at primary school level. The theory is that the younger you are, the more easy it is to absorb the rhythms and structures of a different language more easily. So far, tres bon. The pilot scheme indicates that the pupils at the 1,400 primary schools that have tried the scheme are so enthusiastic that they wish to continue learning at secondary school.

Overall, 56% of primary schools either have or will soon have introduced languages - a 44% increase in two years. By 2010 all seven to 11-year-olds will be entitled to learn a foreign language at school. It's all in a great deal of flux at present, but schools minister Jim Knight admits that getting 14-16-year-olds to learn languages is a waste of time.

There is a new way of teaching modern languages at secondary schools called the languages ladder that is proving very popular. The structure is similar to the eight grades of music learning, whereby language pupils are assessed on a scale of one to 17 and receive a certificate for each level achieved. This is instead of several years' work to reach a final exam such as a GCSE.

Unfortunately, new methods of teaching physics are not proving to be anywhere near as successful. One of our leading scientists, Sir Harry Kroto, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, blames the demise of Meccano. …

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