Apparently, the BBC has ‘found out’ that a crackdown on truancy is what made them make languages non compulsory. The headline tries to make it sound shocking, however it turns out that the government recognised that for some kids (many of whom truant) languages were not appropriate and has tried to make the curriculum more flexible.
Despite the fact that I am a language teacher by trade, I do agree with this principle. As much as I love my subject and see its relevance and importance, I do not feel thhe need to cling to it desperately with my fingernails and to justify its existence. This debate has been made many times over the years and when I was still in the classroom I tried to ensure that my lessons were so interesting, stimulating and challenging that the kids wanted to continue with my subject. I see this as by far the best way to get kids to want to learn – whatever the topic.
Sadly, it will be hard for us to catch up with the language learning on the continent – for kids there English is ‘cool’, it is splattered over billboards, on adverts, in TV programs, on the internet and in their parents’ language. However, a good start is that languages are being introduced in primary schools and hopefully teachers will do this in such a fun way that kids get the bug early and before they become self conscious about speaking it in front fo their peers.