Thursday, September 17, 2009


I know I'm getting to be a grumpy old cow but I really despair in language learning for English native speakers - it's like we haven't the first clue how to go about it.
In my day, they didn't start you till 12 and only the first two years were compulsory - therefore the vast majority left school knowing nothing more than Je m'appelle Betty. They've looked around Europe now and concluded they start languages earlier so sing a song or two with the kids in French or Spanish at nursery and then start basic languages at five. Great, or so you'd think. Schools, the lucky ones anyway, have specialist teachers for specialist subjects like music. You couldn't possibly teach a kid guitar if you didn't play guitar or read music, could you? But a foreign language is in no way specialised so it is apparently perfectly ok to use teachers with no French to teach French. Of course they follow a course so they are a few steps ahead of the kids but they haven't the slightest idea about how French is spoken in France or how to pronounce it properly so your half way decent high school language teacher is now faced with kids turning up on their doorstep with poor French pronunciation and archaic grammar all in need of undoing. Worse still the kids who are actually gifted enough to learn languages are immersing themselves in this pidgin nonsense when using a specialist language-qualified teacher would be so beneficial to them. I thank heavens I can teach my kids languages rather than leaving it to the crazy school system.
Ok, I'll get back off my soapbox now and go to bed.


Leigh Russell said...

I agree. It's a great pity for young people who are interested in learning a foreign language. This attitude doesn't only affect languages. I suspect it's the same in many areas of the curriculum. How did you guess that I'm a teacher? I'm also an author and very impressed at you for writing dictionaries! You must have an incredibly organised mind.

The Scudder said...

Why don't you & T consider a teaching post ??