Why do we need saving?

by George
January 24, 2012

There was an interesting article in the Telegraph yesterday about the slump in MFL learning in schools. It’s something we’ve all suspected, foreseen and dreaded for some time and now the DFE has given us the statistics: in GCSEs last year our 3 core languages fell year-on-year as follows:

  • French down -15% ( to 154,221 pupils)
  • German down -13% (to 60,887 pupils)
  • Spanish down – 2.5% (to 66,021 pupils)

Apparently, the EBacc might just save us (according to Conservative MP Chris Skidmore who had the temerity to request the figures of the DFE in a parliamentary question.) Such a move would, in effect, make learning a Foreign Language compulsory again. Hurrah!

Obey me!

But in such an event, should we really be congratulating ourselves? We teach the most fascinating of disciplines, one which opens up social, cultural, economic and romantic opportunities for those who study it. Shouldn’t we have been able to maintain our “ratings” through this fact alone?

In the same paper there was an a piece in the Technology section about the use of technology in the classroom. Although the focus of the piece was on the change to the ICT curriculum (announced by Gove last week), there was  mention of the excellent-looking ClassDojo which tackles the problem of classroom behaviour and is being upheld as an example of what technology companies can do for education.

This brings up the question of the use of technology products in MFL teaching. Well, MFL teachers have always made use of the best innovations in technology which allow their pupils to gain greater access to the source language. What I’d like to know is, with more resources than ever at our disposal, why do we have to rely on government policy to keep our students interested in languages?

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