Scottish Languages Review Issue 16

Issue 16 - 01/08/2007

Sometimes it is useful to take a look back at the way language teaching has developed over the last few decades to make us realise just how far we have moved forward.  Robin Adamson gives a very detailed and astute insight into the way the teaching of French – and by implication, language teaching generally in Higher Education – was changed forever by the efforts of a small group of dedicated professionals.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said that “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”.  It follows that modern language teaching helps to extend learners’ boundaries of perception.  Certainly Nicola Malcolm, a first year undergraduate student, would agree with this interpretation.  Her account of how language learning transformed her outlook is inspiring.

We continue our theme of innovative language learning with the contribution by Thea Pallut, who has revitalised her language teaching methodology through the use of blogging.  Thea was inspired to try out the new technologies available to her and her learners after attending a series of workshops at Scottish CILT’s Communicate.06 conference.

Further to the brief summary about the Goethe Institut’s ‘Power of Language’ event described in Scottish CILT’s September Newsletter, Brian Templeton reports on one the three strands of the conference, language policy, seen this time from the perspective of non-anglophone countries.

Curriculum for Excellence and its emphasis on citizenship is the starting point for Catriona Oates.  Her article ties in with the staff development offered by the Professional Services Team during this academic year.   Let’s finish with this quote by the British novelist and journalist Angela Carter: “language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation”. 

The SUFLRP Saga: Thirty years of teaching French in Scottish Universities 1970 - 2000

Robin Adamson, Former Head of Languages, University of Dundee

It is difficult now to remember just how undervalued language teaching was in French departments in UK universities in the 1960s and 70s.  This article first looks at the background, the educational context in which the developments of the last thirty years took place.  It then describes the preparation and publication of the four major language projects which are the principle achievements of a unique period of collaborative and creative research in French language departments in the Scottish universities.  The final section looks back over the period and draws some conclusions for present-day teachers of French and other languages.

Download full article as PDF - The SUFLRP Saga: Thirty years of teaching French in Scottish Universities

'Can you understand all that?’ – Expanding horizons of a Scottish language learner

Nicola Malcolm, First year student, Heriot-Watt University

When discussing our subject choices at the start of sixth year, my statement of “I’m doing French, German and Spanish” was always met with much astonishment. “What, all three languages at Advanced Higher? You’re joking, right?” most of them said.  That’s me alright, always one for making a big impression.

Download full article as PDF - Expanding horizons of a Scottish language learner

Blogging in the Language Classroom

Thea Pallut, Teacher of French, Grantown Grammar School

At the Communicate.06 conference I attended a variety of workshops on new technology such as blogging and podcasting, which have revolutionised how I use computers in my classroom. So, how can we use computers to enhance teaching and learning which embrace these new forms of communication?

Download full article as PDF - Blogging in the Language Classroom

The Power of Language: Language Policy in Non-Anglophone Countries

Brian Templeton, University of Glasgow

This report is based on notes taken at the ‘Power of Language’ conference, which took place in Berlin from 14-16 June 2007.  Talks were given under a number of different themes and, as suggested in the title, this strand of the congress concentrated on the close connection between language policy and the political will required to enact such policy. The key message underlying the thematic presentations and discussions is that the creation of a coherent, national language policy requires political will and this in turn requires all interested parties to continue to promote the importance of a diversity of languages in an increasingly globalised world.  The Sprachenpolitik (Language Policy) strand of the congress identified the interested parties as the business community, politicians, cultural organisations and language professionals and provided a voice for each of them to draw upon experiences from across the world. The presentations highlighted developments and interesting practice in language policy in the emerging economic powers of India and China, in the developing countries of Africa as well as in the traditional economic powers of USA, Japan and the European Union. In doing so, the presentations and discussions raised issues relevant to the current position in Scotland and it is these aspects that will now be developed more fully.

Download full article as PDF - The Power of Language: Language Policy in Non-Anglophone Countries

Education for Citizenship: Languages are the Key A Rationale for Languages Teachers

Catriona Oates, Professional Services Officer, Scottish CILT

As one of the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence, responsible citizenship should be a cornerstone for future curricular structure and development in Scottish education. As with all work towards the capacities described in Curriculum for Excellence, opportunities to encourage and develop responsible citizenship will be identified across the curriculum, in every subject area, in class and out of class, in special and mainstream schools.

Download full article as PDF - Education for Citizenship: Languages are the Key

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