Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where foreign-language teaching in Britain is going wrong: I was shcoked ( but not suprised) to see an article on the BBC News website today which claims that teachers of modern languages are being trained to use scripting to help kids pass oral exams in French or German or Spanish. Nothing wrong with that. My teachers taught me how to pass the exams, too. But they taught me how to do so on a basis of understanding, or responding appropriately by showing I had understood the question. Now, it seems, the whole thing can be scripted, with questions asked in an order that the child knows in advance:

He suggested getting pupils to learn and rehearse phrases which showed their ability to use a verb properly and then to ask questions in a particular order which elicited those phrases, interspersed with others that required "Oui" as the response.

He said it was also important that the pupil knew the order the questions would come up.

I would go so far as to suggest that while this may help kids to pass language exams, it contributes absolutely nothing to giving them the language skills or confidence that they need if they wish to travel, or to be effective in the modern international business world.

And I shake my head, sadly.


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