Joe Wake of the British Council introduces our theme by outlining a favourable trend among Local Authorities in their employment of foreign language assistants. Joe also provides an insight into the debate around the question of where the skills of foreign language assistants are most needed: in the primary or in the secondary sector.
At the last SALT Conference, two assistants, Antje Meyer from Germany and Marion Rival from France, presented a very stimulating practitioner workshop. Their enthusiasm and their exciting ideas for class activities were quite an inspiration, so we had to invite them to write about their experience of living and working in Scotland. They’ve both produced personal accounts, in their own languages, of teaching in Scottish schools. This is the first time that the journal has featured articles in languages other than English and it would be interesting to hear your views of this development. Perhaps the articles could be of some use in initiating discussion with your students on the issue of travel, languages and gaining experience? Antje’s and Marion’s descriptions of working in a Scottish primary school will make interesting reading for colleagues in this sector and perhaps, also, for Secondary colleagues who are interested in smoothing the transition into the senior language class.
Kay McMeekin of East Ayrshire Council has extensive experience of supporting language assistants, so we invited her to review the teaching resources, published on-line and in print, that may be of interest to language departments and their assistants. In the process Kay has uncovered a publishing opportunity for budding course writers! However, this is probably not the first time that this gap in the market has been highlighted.
The discussion paper in this issue is written by Hilary Footitt who is chair of the University Council for Modern Languages (UCML). Hilary takes up the question of the imbalance in the numbers of young people from the UK who spend a year abroad during their studies, or between school and university, and the number of young people of other nationalities who come to this country. The article identifies the background to this imbalance and presents some grounds for optimism arising from the increasing popularity of the gap year.
Foreign Language Assistants
Joe Wake, British Council
The number of assistants working in Scottish schools in the year 2002-03 has risen to 246 (224 in 2001-02). Altogether six more Local Authorities resumed employing foreign language assistants: Aberdeenshire, East Lothian, Highland, Perth and Kinross, South Ayrshire and Stirling. At least two others are likely to join next year. However, most of these new posts have been created using the new Modern Languages money from SEED, and this in turn brings with it the challenge of mainstreaming these improvements within three years.
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Unterrichten und lernen
Antje Meyer, Foreign Language Assistant
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Un point de vue moins formel de l'enseignement de la langue: L'assistant
Marion Rival , Foreign Language Assistant
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Travelling to learn: Student mobility in Higher Education
There has been a recent spate of newspaper articles bemoaning the fact that fewer and fewer British university students are choosing to take part in European exchange programmes like Socrates/Erasmus. Latest figures indeed show a dismal pattern of decline. Whilst more and more young people from outside the UK clamour to come here and study, very few of our own students appear to be sufficiently motivated to travel the other way. Last year, the number of UK students taking part in the Socrates/Erasmus programme was 8,481, down 5% on the previous year, which was already 10% down on the year before that. The scale of the UK student deficit can be seen in the imbalance of one bilateral exchange over two academic years.
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