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CBW137Y
post Jul 20 2010, 05:28 PM
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Just thinking about something I've posted in another thread....

Languages, and the teaching of languages in schools.

Why is the UK education system so behind with the teaching of languages in schools? Why is Latin still elitist (let's face it, you get Latin figured, and the rest falls into place), and why do children not learn French properly in primary education?

Sorry - am sounding like a child now with all the "why" questions, but when I recently went into the supermarket in Luxembourg to buy a new telephone, I asked one of the young members of the sales staff if he spoke english (in my very best French), and he said yes, and we went on to have a conversation about language education and the fact that he speaks eight languages. He was no older than twenty one. The lady who drew up my tenancy agreement last year also spoke eight languages, one of which was Luxembourgish (even though she was Moroccan). My bosses children (six and four years old), are heading toward fluency in French now, having been here for eighteen months, and will be starting to learn German soon.

So why did I only start having language lessons when I was twelve years old? Children should be taught younger, when they are still information sponges.

Thoughts?
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DrPepper
post Jul 20 2010, 05:34 PM
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As I just posted on the other thread:-

We are not generally multi-lingual in this country as if you go to most other countries their second language is English - they only have to learn English to communicate the world over. On the other hand we are expected to learn every language just to go on a two week holiday! Saying that, out of courtesy - and the need to buy petrol if I'm driving across Europe I do learn the basics and how to count to twenty (just don't end up on petrol pump number 23!). A great example is whilst in France a waiter complained that my French was weak, then while trying to communicate with a Italian - without success - they both resorted to speaking English
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CBW137Y
post Jul 21 2010, 06:37 AM
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Yes, but doesn't that just prove the perception that us Brits are lazy when it comes to languages because "we don't have to". I will use my very best efforts when speaking with local people, using what French I know (and am still learning), and for the most, people will hear the British twang to my accent and speak English in reply.

Does that justify the lack of language skills or desire to learn languages in the UK though? I don't think so! My husband cannot get work over here because he doesn't speak French or German. He's a manual worker, and as such, must be able to speak at least two languages. I know, before you say it, it has been our choice to relocate to another country, and he could have stayed in the UK doing his job as he was, and visiting me. If that was still the case, my apartment would be tidy, and I could watch Holby City in peace on a Tuesday, blah blah blah. It is still an eye opener though to how rubbish and complacent we can be.

I'd love to go back in time and start my language lessons at an early age. I actually feel a little embarrased when a local has to use the English language to speak with me because my French isn't quite good enough. sad.gif
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DrPepper
post Jul 21 2010, 07:16 AM
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Yep, agree we are lazy and it's because we don't have to learn, I guess the problem is what languages would we learn at school - French, German, Spanish, Polish?? Actually, looking at some of the local schools perhaps they should spend more time on English after all tongue.gif
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Bloggo
post Jul 21 2010, 08:16 AM
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Someone once told me that if you wanted to be successful in this life you should do 3 things:
Learn a language, learn to dance and learn to play a musical instrument.
These should be taught or encouraged in schools.
Sadly having recently walked through Newbury high street it is apparent that too many of the young people there have difficulty in mastering basic English language and learning how to put their clothes on properly.


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Biker1
post Jul 21 2010, 08:19 AM
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QUOTE (Bloggo @ Jul 21 2010, 09:16 AM) *
Someone once told me that if you wanted to be successful in this life you should do 3 things:
Learn a language, learn to dance and learn to play a musical instrument.
These should be taught or encouraged in schools.
Sadly having recently walked through Newbury high street it is apparent that too many of the young people there have difficulty in mastering basic English language and learning how to put their clothes on properly.



Who is it that teaches them the art of nicking things, swearing loudly, and claiming benefits?
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JMH
post Jul 21 2010, 08:23 AM
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In my experience, I find that French people 'can't' speak English unless you try to speak in French to them first! laugh.gif
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Bloggo
post Jul 21 2010, 08:24 AM
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QUOTE (Biker1 @ Jul 21 2010, 09:19 AM) *
Who is it that teaches them the art of nicking things, swearing loudly, and claiming benefits?

I suspect that it is their parents in many cases. wink.gif


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JeffG
post Jul 21 2010, 08:32 AM
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QUOTE (CBW137Y @ Jul 20 2010, 06:28 PM) *
Why is Latin still elitist

I didn't realise it ever was. Why do you say that? It's a shame it's so rarely taught these days.

QUOTE (CBW137Y @ Jul 21 2010, 07:37 AM) *
for the most, people will hear the British twang to my accent and speak English in reply.

And that is really annoying, isn't it, especially when you are doing your best to master a language. dry.gif
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CBW137Y
post Jul 21 2010, 08:51 AM
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QUOTE (JeffG @ Jul 21 2010, 10:32 AM) *
I didn't realise it ever was. Why do you say that? It's a shame it's so rarely taught these days.


And that is really annoying, isn't it, especially when you are doing your best to master a language. dry.gif



Latin isn't taught in mainstream schools. My family falls on both sides of the education fence; half of us were privately educated, the others got a comprehensive school education. Only the family members who had private education were taught Latin as part of their bog standard education. Those who had mainstream education, didn't start learning languages until the age of 11/12 and then it was only French. If you were good at French, you had the option to learn German on top.

I spoke recently about this with someone else, and they agreed that it is considered rather elitist, which it absolutely shouldn't be.

Shame really.
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Roost
post Jul 21 2010, 02:37 PM
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I think that the fault lies in two areas. Firstly the failing with the education system and secondly a certain degree of laziness from the individual - and I do count myself in there!

I was fortunate enough to learn French at school and university but rarely get the opportunity to converse in that language now. This, and my lack of subsequently learning any other languages could be put down to my laziness in not seeking it out.

On the converse side, I and Mrs Roost have recently taken up travelling to further foreign climes and I always make sure that I learn the basics in every language that I am likely to encounter in our countries of choice.

It has led to me being able to order "two beers" and then thank the bar steward in at least 5 languages other than my mother tongue.....

(havent managed to grasp the Welsh though!)


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Bloggo
post Jul 21 2010, 02:42 PM
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QUOTE
On the converse side, I and Mrs Roost have recently taken up travelling to further foreign climes and I always make sure that I learn the basics in every language that I am likely to encounter in our countries of choice.

It has led to me being able to order "two beers" and then thank the bar steward in at least 5 languages other than my mother tongue.....

(havent managed to grasp the Welsh though!)

Well done. Sounds like you have cracked it, a veritable linguist. What else do you need. wink.gif


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CBW137Y
post Jul 21 2010, 02:44 PM
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QUOTE (Bloggo @ Jul 21 2010, 04:42 PM) *
Well done. Sounds like you have cracked it, a veritable linguist. What else do you need. wink.gif


Welsh, it would seem wink.gif
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Rachel
post Jul 21 2010, 03:44 PM
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QUOTE (Bloggo @ Jul 21 2010, 09:16 AM) *
Someone once told me that if you wanted to be successful in this life you should do 3 things:
Learn a language, learn to dance and learn to play a musical instrument.
These should be taught or encouraged in schools.


Couldn't agree more! Unfortunately, someone somewhere dictates that in a 26(ish) hour week our State primary schools children should do 5 hours literacy, 5 hours numeracy, 2 hours PE, daily worship & other subjects all taught under the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). It takes an extremely creative teacher to teach science, art, RE, music, Modern Lanuages, history, geography, ICT etc in a topic which might be "Healthy Me", "Dinosaurs" "Chocolate", ...it can be done very effectively, I've witnessed it, but time is at a premium & even if you ring fence a half hour lesson for French one wonders how effective that would be. Also, languages need to be taught well with a good accent modelled, or our little ones will pick up some poor habits. Makes me remember how much we expect of our primary school teachers...talk about being multi skilled!
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CBW137Y
post Jul 21 2010, 03:56 PM
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Am more than interested to learn how they manage it in Europe then. Am going to ask around, me thinks.

Of all the people I know who have taken their children overseas, they have said the language education has been superb (including English!).
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Rachel
post Jul 21 2010, 04:17 PM
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QUOTE (CBW137Y @ Jul 21 2010, 04:56 PM) *
Am more than interested to learn how they manage it in Europe then. Am going to ask around, me thinks.

Of all the people I know who have taken their children overseas, they have said the language education has been superb (including English!).


I'd be interested to hear your findings too. I can only pressume the give priority to different areas, or perhaps have longer school hours/less holiday than our children. We know different countries have different education systems, some will swear by the German model where children attend formal lessons from 7, others think the US system which keeps students until they're much older is more effective. Guess it's down to the Government policy, which of course is less strictly adhered to in public schools who form their own curriculum which may include Latin of course. This one could turn lively...I'm not entering into the State versus Public school debate... In Dragon's Den style, "I'm out!"
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JeffG
post Jul 22 2010, 02:18 PM
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QUOTE (Rachel @ Jul 21 2010, 05:17 PM) *
I'm not entering into the State versus Public school debate

It didn't used to be like that. In my day, when we had the 11-plus, if you passed, you went to a Grammar School, where Latin was taught as a matter of course. You didn't have to be from a privileged background, or have money - everyone got a grant, so it was a level playing field, based purely on ability. That's why I expressed surprise at the "elitist" tag - I can see how it might apply today if it was only taught in fee-paying schools (more's the pity).

Personally, I have always loved languages. Although biased towards the scientific side (my career was in computing), I did Latin, Greek, French and German at school to 'O' level. I lived in Holland for a while where I picked up Dutch. These days, my French is still pretty fluent, though rusty!
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On the edge
post Jul 22 2010, 10:08 PM
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Have to say as far as I'm concerned, Newbury came up trumps with secondary education. Albeit not too many years back, my brood were taught latin and a foregin language at Park House. Well enough to pass O levels and get 'placed' in Greek speaking contests. At the time, I worked with a chap with a son on a choral scholarship at Winchester. He was amazed at what Park House offered and demonstrably delivered - in his view a better education all round.


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CBW137Y
post Aug 4 2010, 04:57 PM
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Just seen this advert on the local classifieds page:

QUOTE
Hello! I'm a 15-year old girl looking for a summerjob from 26.7-31.7 or something between the 15.8.-15.9. I speak Luxembourgish, German, French and English, and I can use MS Office.
I can also babysit 1-2 children, take your dogs for a walk (I live in Luxembourg-city) or tutor children from primary school, such as 7e, in German, French or Mathematics!


Crumbs!!
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Strafin
post Aug 4 2010, 06:12 PM
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Crumbs as in "what a terrible ad"?
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