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Crossing Boundaries in Language Teaching Announced by Leading Agencies

CILT and the Association for Language Learning (ALL) successfully launched the book “Making the Case for Languages at Key Stage 4” last Tuesday at the Goethe-Institut in London.

The book is a new attempt to establish the importance that should be placed on the learning and teaching of languages, especially in school. “Making the Case for Languages at Key Stage 4” was developed to help teachers raise interest among Heads, Senior Management, Governors and other staff at schools; parents and local communities; and the pupils themselves. It is intended to convince these individuals of the need and extreme benefits of learning languages. The various chapters of the book present a series of perspectives on the teaching of a language and offer varied arguments, reasons and ideas to secure the value of languages.

ALL the Best Reasons

Barry Jones, the former President of the ALL, considers “Making the Case for Languages at Key Stage 4” a vital help for teachers, especially in the current situation, where the significance given to languages is rapidly diminishing in the United Kingdom. “At a time when foreign language teaching and learning is the subject of both positive and negative scrutiny, this book is timely and much needed,” he said.

“Its carefully reasoned arguments are not just confirmation of what most modern language teachers strongly believe, but make the case explicitly and persuasively for a range of audiences including Governors, parents and their local communities, other subject teachers and the learners themselves,” he continued. “Its approach is informed, carefully researched and presented in a way which can be directly transmitted to those whom it seeks to inform and persuade.”

New Objectives

It has been revealed recently that schools have to increase and improve the participation in language learning in Key Stage 4 from 50% to 90%. This raises the question of what exactly successful schools do to maintain high levels of interest in languages and what problems the other schools that fail would face. Language teachers have always regarded their subject as indispensable for a “bright” life and to have good prospects for the future. The issue is that not only do teachers need to accept and have this prospect but also Head teachers and Senior Management need it to as well, as the OFSTED report in the Summer of 2005 confirmed.

The attitudes towards this area of studies needs to be changed, more support for the schools” language departments should be provided and the Head Departments should also take more risks in advertising and promoting the study of languages. More procedures like the launching of the book, the Language Trends survey of languages in Key Stage 4, CILT’s Promoting Web pages, the Lingu@NET forum and the European Day of Languages should be defended and applauded so that the message of the value and essentialness of languages is able to reach more people.

Joana Lage

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