I am really inspired by the spirit, energy and commitment of my languages friends and colleagues on twitter. In response to a radio 4 programme on why learn languages this week, they refused to accept the same old clichés and arguments about the parlous state of language learning within our shores, and through Twitter, mustered themselves for a special edition in the ongoing series of flashmeetings they have planned and been participating in for a while now. I’ve blogged about these flashmeetings before; about what great teacher-owned and teacher-led CPD they are, but this one has a different purpose. There was a real feeling that enough is enough: that the problems flagged up in the programmme have been known to us for many years yet things are getting worse. Inspite of the dedication and commitment of many languages teachers uptake for our subject is slipping through our fingers. I know there are loads of dedicated teachers out there of every subject, but many languages teachers go that extra mile for their students; filling their cars with literature, goodies; realia whilst on holiday to refresh their language skills; in Scotland the annual national teachers’ association (SALT) conference attracts over 400 teachers every year – other similar subject events running alongside it on the same day barely manage 40, so it’s not lack of commitment on their part that is the problem. But what is it? A few issues were raised last night. Some of them are myths that need busting. When we have a list we’re all happy with we should send it to Radio 4 and a few others. Please add your thoughts and comments -we should take one myth each and flesh out the arguments. Let me know which one you’d like to tackle.
Myth one: Learning a language is harder than any other subject
Myth two: Getting a good grade in a language is harder than in any other subject ( this is not a myth in England , BTW it’s true!)
Myth three: We are just no good at learning languages in UK
Myth four: Why should we waste our time teaching languages to students who can’t even speak, read or write proper English?
Myth five: It’s pointless trying to learn European languages and we’ve failed at that anyway so make room for Chinese
Myth six: our culture is supportive of language learning at every level and languages are valued in our schools and society
Myth seven: Why bother? Everyone learns English anyway?
Myth eight: Not everyone is capable of learning a language
Myth nine: Teachers just aren’t making their lessons interesting enough for students to want to choose to stay with the subject
Myth ten: Starting in upper primary is too late – we need to start them learning a second language in nursery.