Scottish Languages Review Issue 22

Issue 22 - 15/11/2010

We continue to expand the scope of the Scottish Languages Review.  In addition to our ‘Events’ feature (both past and future) we have included Abstracts from a selection of recent journal publications in this edition.  These are already in the public domain of course (although access to the full versions is restricted due to copyright) but we bring them together here for your convenience in the hope you will find the summaries useful as starting points for further research.

Now to our main contributors to the current issue:  We have two submissions arising from presentations given at our National Conference Languages: Unlocking the Potential.  Eddie Morrison, Head Teacher at John Ogilvie High School, describes vividly the measures he has put in place to make languages relevant to all pupils in his school.  Ilse Lombard reports on the positive impact on implementing greater awareness of language structures in English on her pupils’ understanding and enjoyment of foreign language learning.  We also have a report on research into a possible link between language-learning motivation and socio-economic status by Angela Gayton.  If you are looking to make the vocational case for languages, look no further than the conference report of from the National Network for Interpreting event by Tamara Bloom and last but not least, a substantial polemic by independent business consultant Ian Watson highlighting the many contradictions in the current debate on the usefulness of modern languages in the world of work.

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 Spring/Summer edition (submission deadline 28 February 2011).  The SLR is read by linguists as well as educational stakeholders across the country and beyond, so your article can really make an impact! Hannah Doughty, Editor.

¡A Mi Me Importa! Making Language Learning Relevant to the Weans

by Eddie Morrison, John Ogilvie High School

There has surely never been a more perilous period for language teaching in our schools. As the design principles of the Curriculum for Excellence reforms, such as personalisation and choice, 'kick in' every and any subject, including the so-called core,  is arguably 'up for grabs'. The Golden Age (sic) of ‘Languages for All’ as an automatic 'given' in our Scottish schools is effectively over. It is time to consider to what extent we can justify the place of languages and as a starting point we could do worse than to reflect on the degree to which what we offer the pupils is relevant to their present and future lives. In this article the author argues the case that relevance is the most urgent design principle for safeguarding the future of language teaching in our schools.

Key Words: Curriculum for Excellence; pedagogy; relevance; educational exchanges; Spanish School of the Year

Download full article as PDF - A Mi Me Importa: Making Language Learning Relevant to the Weans


Moving Towards a Curriculum for Excellence in Modern Languages

by Ilse Lombard, Crieff High School

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), the curriculum reform programme introduced by the Scottish Government, is not a prescriptive framework for learning and teaching. Teachers will need to reflect continuously on what they have taught, how this was done and then change or fine-tune the teaching and learning experience for the learners to make it as effective as possible.  This article outlines the two main focus areas underlying the projects described in the study, namely Literacy and Citizenship, with particular reference to Developing Global Citizens.  The projects were undertaken in an S1 German class.  The conclusion highlights the fact that the implementation of CfE will rely heavily on trust in the ability of the practitioner to provide experiences for learners to achieve the outcomes.  Another important feature of CfE is its focus on cross-curricular working, particularly in secondary schools where teachers can make contributions to experiences and outcomes from more than one curriculum area.  This implies the development of a collaborative ethos as opposed to a competitive ethos within the school.  The outcomes of these projects have informed the new S1 Modern Languages course for German and French in the school.

Keywords: Curriculum for Excellence, Literacy, Citizenship, Global Citizens

Download full article as PDF - Moving Towards a Curriculum for Excellence in Modern Languages


Socioeconomic Status and Language-Learning Motivation: to what extent does the former influence the latter?

by Angela Gayton, University of Edinburgh

While the influence on language-learning motivation of other macro-level factors, such as gender, have been extensively investigated, there has been comparatively little written about an association between socioeconomic status and language-learning. Given the relationship between socio-economic status and mobility (access to foreign travel), and subsequently mobility and language-learning (Carr & Pauwels, 2006; Wright, 1999), deeper exploration of this variable seems equally worthy. Eleven high school teachers were interviewed: four in Scotland, four in Germany and three in France. The three learning contexts were compared, in order to ascertain any differences in the influence of socioeconomic status on language-learning motivation when English was the pupils’ mother-tongue, and when English was the pupils’ foreign language.  Results indicated that in all three contexts, socio-economic status was indeed linked to language-learning via a pupil’s mobility. It is hoped that this study will enhance the as yet rather limited work carried out on an association between socio-economic status and language-learning motivation, and encourage a greater focus on this macro-level variable in the future.

Keywords: language-learning motivation, socioeconomic status, secondary schools

Download full article as PDF - Socioeconomic Status and Language-Learning Motivation


Engaging tomorrow’s interpreters: Conference Report

by Tamara Bloom, University of Leeds

On 18 June 2010, the Pavilion at the University of Westminster was filled with an unusual mix of language professionals and educators as European Union (EU) interpreters, school teachers, university lecturers, careers advisors and more gathered for the online resources forum created by the National Network for Interpreting (NNI). Engaging tomorrow’s interpreters: awareness and aspiration-raising through interactive online resources was an event showcasing the resources created so far through the NNI programme. These tools aim to raise awareness of interpreting as a profession, to highlight the variety of skills involved, and to be a fun yet informative source of reference and pedagogical material. The resources have a varied target audience (school children, teachers, language students, trainee interpreters) and multiple objectives (pupil motivation in language learning, awareness raising, basic interpreting practice materials), and this was reflected in the different sectors represented at the forum.

Keywords: NNI, interpreting, interpreter training tools, translating, EU, online resources, interactive, e-learning, forum, Westminster, Routes into Languages

Download full article as PDF - Engaging tomorrow’s interpreters: Conference Report


Languages mean business – but not all employers know it!

by Ian Watson, Business Consultant

Drawing on his experience of living and working in various countries and trading successfully using a variety of languages, the author explores the communicative challenges facing corporate and individual executives seeking to thrive in today’s economic world.  He challenges the view that English is either ubiquitous or that its widespread use will be perpetual. The use and status of foreign languages in other countries offer an insight into different attitudes from which Scottish business may learn.  It is argued that a change in attitude would cause us to reconsider the scope and cost of language training because it affords the opportunity to gain a most transferable skill for the employee’s own benefit as well as to any future employer. The author proposes that language skills are life skills and not dependent on academic ability. It is hoped the paper will engender discussion. 

Keywords: language skills, business and industry, added value, cost-benefit analysis

Download full article as PDF - Languages mean business – but not all employers know it!


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