The Linguist

The Linguist 51,6

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 13 of 35

FEATURES Hard times, soft power ��� and the role of languages. In the Threlford Memorial Lecture 2012, Baroness Garden looks at Government���s role in improving languages in UK business and education When I was eight, my civil servant father took up an appointment in Paris and I found myself in a class where teacher and pupils spoke only French, and I spoke only English. The lack of communication was frustrating and disturbing. I learned fast to survive. Our live-in cook spoke no English. Her mousse au chocolat was to die for, but her crises de foie and mauvaise humeur worsened considerably if she heard us speak English, so, in the interests of a quiet life, we adopted a family Franglais. After 18 months of French immersion, my parents sent me back to boarding school in England, where there was another steep learning curve, in a different world. There was derision when I bobbed a curtsey and tried to shake hands with my teachers in the morning. In the 1950s, the English rarely shook hands except to seal a deal ��� or if they were Freemasons. At mealtime, I was severely rebuked for putting my clenched fists on the table and cleaning my plate with a lump of bread ��� good table manners at my French school. In history lessons, the towering figure of Vercing��torix was unknown and, whereas in Paris, Joan of Arc had been cruelly betrayed and put to death by the dastardly English, in Buckinghamshire, the dirty deeds were down to the dastardly French. All very confusing. It was an early practical lesson in international awareness, in understanding that foreign languages not only involve different words, they also open doors to a rich variety of customs, culture, courtesies ��� and contradictory views of history. As you will well know, young children are all the more accepting and tolerant of diversity. They acquire a new language more 14 The Linguist MEMBERS��� DAY Baroness Garden, with CIOL President Dr Nicholas Bowen, after delivering the lecture the capacity of the primary workforce. In 2011, Ofsted reported that teaching was good in two thirds of the lessons observed at primary level, and that the level of achievement was good or outstanding in 60 percent of schools visited.��Speaking and listening were the areas where the greatest progress was identified. readily. They absorb learning, have no hang-ups about making strange noises, can treat language learning as natural and fun. Some vowels and consonants are best acquired while mouths are still forming, such as the hard French ���u��� or guttural ���r���. And once a second language has been tackled, many of the intellectual and psychological barriers to learning others have been overcome. In recognition of this, the previous government emphasised languages at primary level, but sadly overlooked their value at secondary level. The consequent drop in language take-up has been dramatic. The latest published evidence1 shows that in 2008, 92 percent of primary schools were offering pupils the opportunity to learn a language within class time at Key Stage 2 (KS2; ages 7-11). This represented a rise of eight percentage points from 2007 and 22 percentage points from 2006. This trend is set to continue, as within a new National Curriculum, a language will be statutory at KS2 from 2014. However, concerns remain about the sustainability and depth of this provision and DECEMBER/JANUARY Secondary concerns The ending of funding for programmes such as the primary initial teacher training (ITT) course in a languages specialism also raises concerns about workforce capacity. Under the current National Curriculum, the study of a modern foreign language (MFL) is statutory at KS3 (ages 11-14). At KS4 (14-16), there is a statutory entitlement for every pupil��to take a course in a foreign language leading to a recognised qualification, if they wish to. The Department for Education (DfE) recently announced plans for changes to the qualifications that pupils take at the end of KS4. The proposals are for six core academic subjects, including a language, leading to a new qualification: the English Baccalaureate. This may address the key challenges facing the teaching of modern languages. Take-up at GCSE has continued to decline since 2004, when the National Languages Strategy (NLS) removed the compulsion to study at least one MFL at KS4. From a high of 79 percent of pupils taking a GCSE in 2000, last year this had fallen to 40 percent. Ofsted expressed concern in its 2011 report about the quality of teaching in

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