The Linguist

The Linguist 55,1

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 5 of 35

Philip Harding-Esch reports on the All-Party Group's response to the Ebacc consultation Inside parliament A n important function of the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Languages is to contribute to consultations and inquiries. One of the problems facing modern foreign language (MFL) policy in the UK is that it is not approached in a joined-up way, and some areas of policy ignore language issues altogether. The APPG is in a unique position to contribute to such inquiries and make the appropriate links. A good example is the consultation on the implementation of the Ebacc performance measure in schools, which concluded in January. The government wants 90% of pupils to attain the Ebacc: a good GCSE in English, maths, history or geography, two sciences – and a language. On the face of it, this is a welcome and overdue advance for languages. The APPG has already welcomed the measure in principle. Combined with statutory primary languages, it provides a real opportunity for an increase in the population's language skills over time, and in the number of students studying languages at university. However, there are many challenges to overcome if these proposals are to succeed. Increasing the number of language teachers is, perhaps, the top priority. In 2014-15, there was already a 21% shortfall in the number of 6 The Linguist Vol/55 No/1 2016 NEWS & EDITORIAL Philip Harding-Esch works on behalf of the British Council to support the APPG on Modern Languages. TL trainee MFL teachers, and that's for the present – historically low – number of pupils learning languages. Language graduate numbers are falling so fast that it is impossible to recruit enough of them into teaching. Current financial incentives appear insufficient. The trend in schools to 'disapply' entire groups of pupils from studying languages must be addressed. Not only does this undermine the Ebacc policy, but it entrenches trends whereby disadvantaged children are denied MFL, and ignores both the benefits in literacy that MFL can bring and the linguistic advantage of children whose first language is not English. Mixed messages may give schools an excuse not to take the Ebacc policy seriously. For instance, MFL is only optional in the new Progress 8 performance measure (of pupils' progress in a range of subjects over time). The APPG is raising such concerns with the Department for Education as it seeks to build a consensus that languages are a core subject. Email for details or to attend the next meeting. David Cameron was accused of hypocrisy over his demand that Muslim women improve their language skills after it emerged that he cut funding for English lessons for migrants in 2011. His anti-extremism blueprint came under fire yesterday after he announced a £20 million language fund to help about 190,000 Muslim women in England who speak little or no English. They now face language tests after two and a half years if they wish to stay. 'Muslim Fury at Cameron's "Hypocrisy"', 18/1/16 What the papers say… For anyone wanting to share research, English has become the medium for study, writing and teaching. That might make it easier for people speaking different languages to collaborate. But is there something else being lost? Is non-English research being marginalised? A campaign among German academics says science benefits from being approached through different languages… "A linguistic monoculture will throw global science back to the dark ages." Research suggests that to be published in an English journal, academics generally need to subscribe to Anglo-American theories and terminology. 'Does the Rise of English Mean Losing Knowledge?', 13/1/16 [The publisher] announced this week that it would pull from shelves all copies of Tagore's Stray Birds, translated by contemporary Chinese writer Feng Tang, citing controversy … "This incident raises questions about the role of the translator in relation to the author and what his motives were," said Radha Chakravarty, a Tagore scholar who teaches in the Ambedkar University in New Delhi. "Was it about marketability? Was it to push its sales?" 'Publisher Pulls Disputed Chinese Translation of Indian Poet', 1/1/16 © SHUTTERSTOCK

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 55,1