Scottish Languages Review Issue 23

Issue 23 - 02/06/2011

In this issue:  Jérome Lestienne tells an encouraging story of how showing the vocational relevance of language has increased motivation for language learning in his classes.  This is contrasted with the dramatic decline of language provision in the Scottish further education sector, the reasons for which are explored by Hannah Doughty.  In a similarly contrasting vein, experienced academics Vera Kempe and Patricia Brooks investigate the cognitive factors affecting language learning in adults whilst three budding researchers from school, Anna Faulds, Megan Taylor and Sehher Iyyaz report on the challenges they faced as part of their investigation into the age factor on language learning.  Finally, George Orekan updates us on his research into the language policies in Nigeria and their effect on the Nigerian education system. You can read his earlier article in Issue 21.

Please also have a look at our Events feature (both past and future) and selected Abstracts from recent journal publications, including the special issue of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, devoted entirely to modern languages in higher education. Access to the full versions is restricted due to copyright but we hope you will find the summaries useful as starting points for further research.  You may also wish to read the recently updated position paper on languages by the British Academy. 

We hope that some of you will be inspired to submit your own article.  This could be in response to the submissions in this or previous editions or because you feel you have got something new to say about language learning/ teaching or language policy, in Scotland or in other parts of the world. Perhaps you want to showcase an action research project and bring it to a wider audience? The Scottish Languages Review is now looking for contributions to the Autumn/Winter edition (submission deadline 31 August 2011).  The SLR is read by linguists, language teachers and learners, as well as educational stakeholders across the country and beyond, so your article can really make an impact! Hannah Doughty, Editor.

Creating Links with Business and the Community

by Jérome Lestienne, Elgin Academy

The falling number of candidates choosing a foreign language past S2 has been an increasing problem in many Scottish secondary schools. I wanted to find an appropriate, straightforward and low-cost solution for my department that would help prepare my pupils for the global market. Involving local international businesses provided part of the answer.

Key Words: international, course choices, languages, seniors, business, CfE, charities, cross-curricular

View full article - Creating Links with Business and the Community

La Grande Illusion: Why Scottish further education has failed to grasp the potential of modern languages

by Hannah Doughty, University of Strathclyde

The most recently available data from the Scottish Qualifications Authority show that modern language provision in the Scottish further education sector is on the verge of a total collapse.  Building on previous research by Doughty (2005) and Bourdieu’s concept of habitus this article shows how the self-perpetuating belief that ‘English is enough’ has unintentionally affected data that are used to inform the content of vocational qualifications.  The taken-for-granted assumptions underlying the data collection methods are challenged and some alternative conceptualisations are proposed regarding the role of modern languages in vocational education and society.

Keywords: further education, labour market surveys, language statistics, relevance, habitus.

View full article - Why Scottish FE has failed to grasp the potential of ML

Individual differences in adult second language learning: A cognitive perspective

by Vera Kempe, University of Abertay Dundee and Patricia J. Brooks, City University of New York

What makes some people more successful language learners than others? Scholars and practitioners of adult second language learning traditionally have cast the issue of individual differences in terms of such constructs as aptitude, motivation, learning strategies, learning styles, meta-linguistic awareness, and personality traits (e.g., extraversion), as well as a range of other social and affective variables (Ehrman, Leaver & Oxford, 2003). These are complex constructs that often lack a clear description of the underlying mechanisms. In this short overview we will take a cognitive perspective and link individual differences in adult L2 learning to individual differences in cognitive abilities. Examining cognitive factors that are predictive of L2-learning success can help to illuminate the mechanisms that underlie the learning process. At the same time, recognising and understanding the links between cognitive abilities and language learning may help teachers and learners to adjust their teaching methods and the learning environment in ways that are beneficial to individual learners. Although we are still far from being able to make specific evidence-based recommendations, reviewing what is known about cognitive predictors of successful language learning may be a useful start.

Keywords: language learning, cognition, learning strategies, adult learners

Investigating Factors that Influence Language Learning Ability

by Anna Faulds, Megan Taylor & Sehher Iyyaz, Jordanhill School

In this article we give a brief report of our experiences of conducting a joint Interdisciplinary Project for the Scottish Baccalaureate in Languages.

Keywords: Scottish Baccalaureate in Languages, Interdisciplinary Project, age factor, motivation, French

View full article - Investigating Factors that Influence Language Learning Ability

Mother Tongue Medium as an Efficient Way of Challenging Educational Disadvantages in Africa: The Case of Nigeria

by George Orekan, University of Aberdeen

The paper aims to examine the policy of mother-tongue medium of instruction as a way of challenging educational disadvantages and enhancing sustainable development in Africa.  The overall illiteracy rate is approximately 70% and recent facts and figures from UNESCO’s 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report show that Africa is lagging behind in the Education for All 2015 objectives. Outcomes from regional conferences on education in Africa are reviewed, such as the 1990 Jomtien conference and  the Organisation for Economic Community development and Programme for International Student Assessment consortium (OECD-PISA,2000) research on the impact of mother tongue.  The article considers efforts being made in Africa in terms of mother-tongue projects, such as the Ife primary project in Nigeria, and their findings. It concludes that there is a need for a pragmatic approach to the medium of instruction whereby mother tongue and foreign languages will be on an equal basis and prevent the creation of a ‘psychological gap detrimental to all cognitive maturation and intellectual development of the child’ (Chumbow: 1986).

Keywords: Additive bilingual model, Africa, educational development, late-exit transition model, multilingualism, mother-tongue

View full article - MT Medium as an Efficient Way of Challenging Educational Disadvantages


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SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages