Scottish Languages Review Issue 9

Issue 9 - 01/11/2004

Every so often there is a really annoying article in the press concerning modern languages - be it the (ir)relevance of the subject, or the (in)competence of the teachers delivering it. But how often do we actually put pen to paper and write a well-considered reply? And even if we did, what are the chances that the paper would publish it? Well, the Scottish Languages Review may provide an alternative avenue for your views. Even if the writer of the offending article is unlikely to come across your response in the SLR, it will provide those of us who do believe in the importance of modern languages with added ammunition when others try to use the same arguments against us.

In this issue of SLR, Professor Anthony Lodge shows us how it can be done, by taking as his starting point an article that appeared in the 'Guardian' newspaper recently. In his response he makes some salient points about the difficulties facing language teachers in this country. Do you agree with his arguments? Do they raise other issues that should be brought to the attention of policy makers? We hope Professor Lodge's article may stimulate some debate - so why not write to us and make your views known!

Blame the teachers

Anthony Lodge

In the crisis afflicting foreign-language teaching in the UK it now seems to be open season for scapegoats, the latest being language-teachers themselves (see for example John Bald’s article in the Education Guardian 21 Sept. 2004). Before dreaming up yet another quick fix, and before engaging in yet another bout of teacher bashing, education policy makers should stand back and view with a little detachment the situation of language teachers in the UK today, considering in particular just how adverse is the general intellectual climate in which teachers are now asked to operate. Real improvements in foreign-language teaching require not a quick fix, but some pretty radical shifts in attitude.

Download full article as PDF - Blame the teachers

University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages