Wednesday, 6 May 2009

La Lingua Franca pour Fiona

The Scottish Education Minister Fiona Hyslop has been accused of letting down Scotland's future. It was announced that one in five schools no longer offer German at Higher Level and one in then fail to provide students an option for higher French. 'Scotland the Brave' is failing to educate to take our place linguistically in a modern Europe.

Le ministre de l'éducation écossais Fiona Hyslop a été accusé de laisser vers le bas futur d'Ecosse. On lui a annoncé qu'un dans cinq écoles n'offrent plus l'Allemand à de plus haut niveau et un dans puis ne fournissent pas des étudiants une option pour un Français plus élevé. 'L'Ecosse le Courageux' n'instruit pas pour prendre notre endroit linguistiquement en Europe moderne.

Der schottische Bildungsminister Fiona Hyslop ist von die Zukunft von Schottland unten lassen beschuldigt worden. Es wurde verkündet, dass ein in fünf Schulen nicht mehr Deutsches an hochgradigem anbieten und eins in dann Kursteilnehmer eine Wahl für höhere Franzosen bereitstellen nicht können. 'Schottland das Tapfere' das erziehen nicht kann, um unser in ein modernes Europa linguistisch stattzufinden.

Regular readers and my SNP rival out here in Linlithgow Ms. Hyslop will probably be glad to hear that I will not continue to write ever paragraph alternatively in my schoolboy French then German. Nor was I going to carry on in my University business Spanish and the smattering of phrases in Italian, Scandinavian language, Dutch or Polish that I’ve assimilated through work in Edinburgh just didn’t cut the mustard*. However, a Government spokesperson yesterday said:

"Modern Languages are key to creating a more successful Scotland. The changes the Scottish Government is bringing in through Curriculum for Excellence reinforce the expectation that schools will offer a modern language by no later than Primary 6 anddeliver relevant language learning."

However, the failure to not sustain that choice of language learning to students at Higher level is startling. Questions most be asked about how a government with aspirations to have be a strong, innovative, independent nation within Scotland seems incapable of standing up for language learning at this level. The above statement is fine in encouraging language skills are available at a young age but fails to promise too maintain a choice in the major languages without potentially changing educational establishment or alternative means.

*Update: It has been pointed out by a work colleague that I omitted Portuguese from the above list of languages. Obrigado. Aceite minha desculpa.


  1. I know at my old school, that if pupils want Spanish they attend another school and if from any other school pupils want German, Russian or Mandarin they attend mine. Seems to work very well.

    How can anyone expect every school to have teachers available in all the European, ancient and modern languages going? What a waste of money. Since comprehensive education was introduced and two distinct styles were squeezed under the same roof, it was obvious there would be surplus places in languages. 47 years ago I used to travel from a small border school to Edinburgh to study higher music as I'd transferred from a large Dundee academy. Nothing was thought about it and in fact I was grateful for the arrangements they made.

    The days are long gone where schools competed in subjects. Far better use of money to share don't you think?

  2. Maybe my 21 years ago experience is different from you 47 years ago. I think the intervening 26 years between us was a step to progress.

    I understand the situation about Spanish which bizarrely considering it's world wide standing is neglected in the UK too much. And the same applies for the other languages. However, I am assuming that staff are already on site for French and German up to Higher level. The failure to provide classes then but waste time and resources in shipping pupils somewhere else not necessarily conjacent is 20% and 10% of schools are not offering these courses is not in the best interest of the pupil.

    As far as education is concerned I feel that the best interst of the pupil is of paramount importance and the spending should be available for their future. Therefore you last point is negated I feel. As for comparing things 47 years ago with todays school infrastructure you know if a school needs to share teaching staff with today's IT infrastructure and language labs I would say surely investment in video conferencing teaching is a possibility rather than limiting the choice.

    It's the SNP who wants us to be a powerhouse in Europe after all. Therefore we need the language skills rather than having to import them from vistors to thses shores (my work in a multi-lingual customer care centre tells me just hte state of our nations language skills).

  3. If Wick High School, 25 years ago, could provide teaching facilities for Highers in French, German and Russian for me, then this is a very worrying step back.

    You can have all the maths and science in the world, but if you can't communicate with each other, you're stuffed.

  4. As far as learning another language, is concerned, can I put in a word for the global language, Esperanto?

    Although Esperanto is a living language, it helps language learning as well.

    Five British schools have introduced Esperanto in order to test its propaedeutic values. The pilot project is being monitored by the University of Manchester and the initial encouraging results can be seen at,%20S2L%20Phase%201.pdf
    You might also like to see

  5. How good to see the mention of the importance of language learning here, immediately followed by a reference to Esperanto. Your text (if I have read it correctly, would read as follows in Esperanto:

    Oni akuzas la Skotan Ministron pri Edukado Fiona Hyslop ke ŝi neglektas la estontecon de Skotlando. Estas anoncite ke unu el kvin lernejoj ne plu proponas la germanan por la abiturienta ekzamenono, kaj ke oni malsukcesas provizi al gerlernantoj elekteblecon por la franca je altgrada nivelo. 'La brava Skotlando' malsukcesas por ke ni prenu nian lokon en moderna Eŭropo.

    A good starting point to look at Esperanto is

  6. Language training in the classroom is largely ineffective, especially in the English speaking world. (I live in Vancouver, Canada). There is far too much emphasis on output, performance and testing. You first have to get used to other languages, and then you have to want to learn.

    Kids should be offered the chance to read, and listen to stories, sing and watch movies in foreign languages in their early years. This should continue, and only those who want to, should be required to produce the language. Once learners are more familiar with different languages, some will want to speak, and only those will learn. What we do now just turns kids off. It is a waste of time.