The Linguist

The Linguist 52,4

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

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Page 29 of 35

OPINION & COMMENT Email with your views In praise © SHOWFACE | DREAMSTIME.COM It is always a great pleasure to read The Linguist, which is full of great information and excellent articles. I was particularly happy to read the article about Soheila Dayani (TL52,3). For me, Soheila has been the face of the Institute – the person who's there when I have questions. Living on the other side of the world, in Australia, hasn't been easy and Soheila has always tried to help. I'm sure that, in those schools and universities she visited this year, students were encouraged and felt at ease to ask questions. I take this opportunity to thank her for her excellent work. Cátia Cassiano MCIL Me defiendo Anarchy in the UK primary? I am surprised at the optimistic title and tone of the article 'Ready to Roll?' (TL52,3), which contrasts with the survey's very disturbing findings. We learn that teachers lack linguistic skills, are not confident in the teaching of grammar, reading and writing, and need training, support and guidance. Under these circumstances, is it likely that pupils will reach 'high standards of practical communication by the end of Key Stage 2' (KS2), as the National Curriculum expects? The survey describes an almost anarchic situation in which primary schools can and do choose any language they like – and allocate very little time to teaching it. There is no agreed curriculum and no consistency of practice. Is it surprising, then, that the primary-secondary transition is a major problem? What can a secondary school be expected to do when it receives pupils with varied experiences in a range of languages 'including Portuguese, Hebrew, Welsh, Turkish, Danish, Swahili'? At the very least, it might be expected that there would be agreements between secondaries and their feeder primaries on which language(s) to teach, as well as on the curriculum, with appropriate goals for the 30 The Linguist end of KS2, as is the case for English and mathematics. Such a requirement, of course, would need to be supported by the Secretary of State, and would have major spending implications for teacher training, since it would reveal the shortage of qualified teachers. Finally, the article states but does not illustrate 'how much previous policies have achieved' and alludes to young people being able to 'enjoy the same opportunities as those in other advanced countries'. It would be interesting to learn what, in fact, previous policies have achieved, as they have led to the unsatisfactory situation revealed by the survey; and also to learn how other countries manage the primarysecondary divide (maybe fewer languages are taught?). Perhaps the authors of the survey should read that earlier NFER publication, 'Primary French in the Balance', published in 1974. If it has one message it is that the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages in the primary school requires considerable support from the authorities. Without this support, nothing will roll very far. J E Trickey FCIL AUGUST/SEPTEMBER On a recent trip to Spain I found myself repeating the words 'Me defiendo en español'. This was because various Spanish speakers addressed me spontaneously in English, sometimes even without hearing me speak or after I had said something in quite careful Spanish (I can get by). No doubt they meant well, but they seem to have assumed that an English speaker can only (or will only) speak English. Linguists need to counter this frustrating stereotype by resolutely speaking other languages, wherever possible, when abroad. Spain cannot be the only country where this issue arises. Paul Guest ACIL Crossword answer Puzzle on page 29.

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