The Linguist

The Linguist 58,5 - October/November 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 35

Just over three years have passed since the EU referendum. Although the first shock, dismay, frustration and disappointment felt by many have worn off, emotions are still running high as we face this big unknown. The question about the future of the UK bothers not only native citizens, but also people who have left their countries of origin to live here. Polish people are one of the largest communities in Britain. Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, the number of Poles in Britain has reached almost a million, although migrations from Poland have decreased following the referendum result. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is a big concern, with migrants from all over the EU wondering whether to 'move back' or not. Brexit will affect the private and professional lives of many, and large numbers are worried about their legal status, and right to live and work in the UK. What will happen to those who run businesses in the UK? Will they be able to continue to run them and how will the connection between the UK and the world outside look? Brexit is also presenting an issue for British-Polish marriages. Some EU migrants have successfully applied for British citizenship or settled status, which guarantees the same right to remain as EU membership. However, there is still the open topic of logistics, family visits, and queues at borders and airports. For Poles, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has promised to support returning citizens, but people are sceptical about how they would cope with the new reality if they did decide to move back to Poland. The British Government does offer an informative and user-friendly website ( intended to make the Settlement Scheme smooth and hassle free – although there have been reports of it being anything but. When all is said and done, humans tend to be scared when faced with the unknown. As soon as decisions have been made, we tend to come to terms with the new situation. Joanna Biernat MCIL A distinctly Polish Brexit The article 'Brexit: Telling stories' (TL58,3) raises several important questions. It does not claim to answer them, but instead suggests a number of avenues which could be followed in order to arrive at workable policies for putting modern foreign language (MFL) learning on a new, positive basis. Taking the article as a whole, the wider conclusion seems to be that any meaningful attempt at achieving this will work best if it is research-based and open to any up-to-date, relevant input – which, of course, one could say about almost anything. But Ursula Lanvers is right in leading us towards this inference; too often, in the past, MFL teaching and learning at school level has been hindered by all sorts of unfortunate influences struggling for dominance. An exclusively strict academic, grammar-based approach versus an acceptance of, some would say, sloppy inaccuracies as long as 'communication' is achieved come to mind, along with an imagined fear that 'grammar' will put students off bothering with languages at all. Most current practitioners would, I imagine, agree that the ideal approach lies somewhere in between, and involves cultural awareness through exposure to authentic materials and native speakers. Most strive to achieve this, of course. So there must be a wider, more fundamental malaise causing language 28 The Linguist Vol/58 No/5 2019 OPINION & COMMENT Brexit 'red herring' for MFL learning statistics to "spiral downwards". I would argue that the language malaise in the UK and xenophobia (which has been amplified mercilessly and fallaciously in the press) are entirely separate issues, and that, in the context of MFL, Brexit is a red herring. In my experience, MFL learning as a general concept is transformed (for the better) when positive attitudes towards it are reinforced in the English classroom. An apparent unwillingness to teach English using MFL references leads to Anglophone students finding it difficult to relate structures and syntax to their native tongue. I had the luxury, for many years, of teaching French in a school where the majority of students were taught Latin, providing an awareness of grammar – and a framework for comparison – lacking in those who had only studied English. Two key sentences stand out in this thought-provoking article: 1 "Evidence suggests that our language education policy, and undemanding, poorly designed curricula, are the main factors for our poor learner outcomes." 2 "Let us hope that these research-informed initiatives will carry enough weight to impact on policy makers and make a real difference… to students' motivation and attitude." I couldn't agree more. Nigel Pearce MCIL

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 58,5 - October/November 2019