Scottish Languages Review Issue 18

Issue 18 - 01/12/2008

The autumn 2008 edition of the SLR contains a number of articles by Scottish secondary school teachers who have conducted research as part of their work towards a postgraduate qualification. In light of the educational principles that underpin the Curriculum for Excellence initiative these are highly relevant.

Susan Bremner reports on the strategies she has successfully employed with mixed ability classes, and Christine MacGregor writes about she improved the language learning experience for pupils on an Access 3 French course by changing the teaching and learning methodology. Petra McLay comments on her findings about the state (and status) of German as a language of instruction in Scottish schools.

It is always interesting to find out how other countries in Europe plan for the development of language competence across the education sectors. With this in mind, Aziza Sophie Ouardani gives a brief outline of the language policy in French education, which now fully complies with the aspirations of the Barcelona Agreement of supporting the development of competence in at least two modern languages to a high level of competence.

Lin Sun and Richard Easton report on a study investigating contrasting perceptions regarding the nature of intercultural competence of Chinese students at Edinburgh University’s Department of Education. Finally, we have a highly informative contribution from outwith the education sector, but very relevant to the understanding of cultural behaviour: Daniela Fomiatti, a travel consultant with a major Scottish tour operator, highlights some important differences in the behaviour of tour groups of different European nationalities.

Some thoughts on teaching a mixed ability class

by Susan Bremner

How can teachers raise attainment while helping pupils to be responsible citizens and effective learners? Grouping pupils according to their ability would seem a logical way to allow all pupils to achieve their potential. However it makes very transparent the differences in the academic ability of pupils and is therefore not a very inclusive approach. Setting can lead to stigmatisation, low self-esteem and disruptive behaviour in pupils in lower sets. A mixed ability class allows for more of a social mix but relies heavily on the expertise of the teacher in helping a wide range of pupils achieve their potential. There is the danger that the more able might not be stretched enough while the less able are neglected. The aim of this article is to suggest strategies for teaching mixed ability classes within the framework for a Curriculum for Excellence.

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Cultural Behaviour of European Tour Groups in Scotland

by Daniela Fomiatti

This study aims to contribute to the underdeveloped, yet now growing field of research of “Cultural behaviour in Tourism”. The study seeks to establish the motivation, satisfaction and behaviour of tourists from different nationalities in a group package tour by focusing on the cases of French, Italian and German tourists on group tours of Scotland.

The role of national cultures in tourism, tourist personality and satisfaction has been analysed individually in various studies, although, they have not been studied jointly. The article investigates the tour behaviour of different nationalities and assesses their level of satisfaction with the tour from the perspective of the tour guide. The aim was to collect information that will sustain the theory that different nationalities have different needs and should be marketed differently from one another. Questionnaires and interviews findings are gathered to examine the opinion of Scottish tour guides on the cultural behaviours of different nationalities. The results show significant differences between the three nationalities.

View article - Cultural Behaviour of European Tour Groups in Scotland

Accelerating the Access 3 French course

by Christine M MacGregor

The work described in this article formed the dissertation project of a M.Ed. postgraduate degree in Chartered Teacher Studies at Paisley University (MacGregor 2007). It was carried out in a Scottish secondary school where French is a core subject for S1 to S4. At the start of the project French was the sole foreign language taught, although teachers in the school were also qualified in German and Spanish. With two years experience of teaching and developing the Access 3 French course the question arose why pupils with four years of learning French, including two years at Primary, were taking two further years to achieve Access 3, since much of the required content had already been covered.

The project addressed the question : "Can accelerating the completion of the modern language Access 3 course improve the learning experience of S3 and S4 pupils?"

View article - Accelerating the Access 3 French course

German in Scottish education – school teachers' perspectives

by Petra McLay

This article reports on some of the findings of a recent investigation into the learning and teaching of German in Scottish secondary education. The research was based on a series of telephone interviews, expert witness reports, a systematic review of existing research and a questionnaire survey of German teachers in Scottish secondary schools across the country. The study was carried out under the supervision of the Applied Educational Research Scheme at Strathclyde University. This article focuses on the findings from the questionnaire survey which explored German teachers’ views regarding the present and future provision of German in Scottish secondary education. The responses gave an insight into the current atmosphere in Scottish secondary schools and pinpointed issues for further investigation such as intercultural learning, teaching (and learning) to speak the target language, and creative writing in the German classroom.

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Le plan de rénovation de l’enseignement des langues vivantes : comment la France a intégré le Cadre européen commun de référence pour les langues

by Aziza Ouardani

Le ministère français de l'Éducation nationale a lancé en 2005 un Plan de rénovation de l’enseignement des langues vivantes étrangères qui concerne tous les élèves, de l’école élémentaire au lycée. L’objectif de ce plan est d’améliorer le niveau des élèves dans deux langues étrangères, conformément aux orientations du Cadre européen commun de référence pour les langues, publié en 2001 par le Conseil de l’Europe. La France a, ainsi, été le premier pays européen à inscrire dans ses textes réglementaires cette référence qui définit, notamment, six niveaux de compétences en langues, de A1 (première découverte) à C2 (utilisateur expérimenté).

View article - Le plan de rénovation de l’enseignement des langues vivantes

A Real-life Study of the Intercultural Communicative Competence of the Chinese MSc Students in Edinburgh University

by Lin Z Sun; Richard Easton

Currently, around 60,000 young Chinese students are studying in the UK (British Council China, 2007). For the societies they are living in, like a class and the students’ associations, they are expected to contribute to the harmonious co-existence and also to the range of diversities within these societies. So as for individuals, it would be desirable for them to gain an understanding of others and of themselves and more able to reflect upon and question the social conditions in which they live. To undertake such tasks individuals require abilities known collectively as Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), a concept that was perhaps most clearly described by Michael Byram (1997). It is a collection of abilities needed to perform effectively and appropriately when interacting with others who are linguistically and culturally different from oneself (Fantini, 2006). This study aimed to investigate Chinese students’ ICC, evaluating both strengths and weaknesses. Chinese students’ perceptions of their ICC were compared and contrasted with those from native English speakers. The findings will be of interest to students who are planning a period of learning in another country, as well as to educators wishing to support students in this endeavour.

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