Should everyone have a choice between different languages in school?

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Jack22031994
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Hey all!

What do you think about languages at school?


Do you think everyone should have a choice between languages? I had a choice when I started secondary school way back in 2005 (Im getting old I know!) between French and German, and I chose German as I have German family, so I found that was really good for me and has benefitted me long term, whereas if I had to do French (as an example as friends at other schools this was the case), I wouldn’t have initially loved learning a language.


I also feel that if students had a choice, they might be more engaged with the learning another rather than feeling its something they ‘have’ to do.


So what do you guys think? Should we have a choice between them?

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Dylanm10
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(Original post by Jack22031994)
Hey all!

What do you think about languages at school?


Do you think everyone should have a choice between languages? I had a choice when I started secondary school way back in 2005 (Im getting old I know!) between French and German, and I chose German as I have German family, so I found that was really good for me and has benefitted me long term, whereas if I had to do French (as an example as friends at other schools this was the case), I wouldn’t have initially loved learning a language.


I also feel that if students had a choice, they might be more engaged with the learning another rather than feeling its something they ‘have’ to do.


So what do you guys think? Should we have a choice between them?

More curriculum conversations like this
This thread is one of a series of Curriculum Conversations happening on :tsr: in July. If you would like to receive notifications for more of these, click here and tick the box.
Hey there, I hope you're doing well!

Yes, this should be the case with languages at the school or university level I believe, that learning a language really has different use cases and depends on your future plans as well. If you have planned ahead it can really help you succeed at your plan as well let's say if you have decided to go to France in the future for pursuing any sort of degree or vocation then learning french at different levels can help you advance your chances in that scenario.
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CatusStarbright
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I think that for some schools it can be difficult to offer proper choice due to a lack of teachers with the relevant skills. I think in my school there were only about two teachers each for French and German, meaning that each year group was assigned to one language only. There was just not the capacity for all of us to do both French and German!
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by CatusStarbright)
I think that for some schools it can be difficult to offer proper choice due to a lack of teachers with the relevant skills. I think in my school there were only about two teachers each for French and German, meaning that each year group was assigned to one language only. There was just not the capacity for all of us to do both French and German!
I think this is the main reason why historically there hasn't been much variety – plus the feedback loop of people learning the standard French/Spanish/German in school, going to study them at uni (I know, guilty as charged!) and then becoming language teachers.

There's going to be a certain inevitability here because schools have limited resources and MFLs are under pressure as it is, but I'd like to see technology embraced more, particularly for older pupils, and remote learning used to offer the opportunity to learn more languages. That way you could have someone teaching quite an obscure language and a classful of pupils joining from all over the country who were interested in learning it – I guess the language teacher could even be teaching their mother tongue online from their native country if they wanted!
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04MR17
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There are two problems here. Lack of staff, lack of culture for languages. It's classic British complacency to be not wanting to learn a language.

When thinking about this I had wondered if forcing pupils to take a language but giving students a choice would be worthwhile so as to ensure that they are in a subject they have chosen. I guess then it ends up with the same as those who choose Geography because they dislike History. And I'm also aware that outside England it's less common to have a Humanities and a Language compulsory at GCSE.

It's a problem I still haven't figured out a solution to
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CatusStarbright
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
I think this is the main reason why historically there hasn't been much variety – plus the feedback loop of people learning the standard French/Spanish/German in school, going to study them at uni (I know, guilty as charged!) and then becoming language teachers.

There's going to be a certain inevitability here because schools have limited resources and MFLs are under pressure as it is, but I'd like to see technology embraced more, particularly for older pupils, and remote learning used to offer the opportunity to learn more languages. That way you could have someone teaching quite an obscure language and a classful of pupils joining from all over the country who were interested in learning it – I guess the language teacher could even be teaching their mother tongue online from their native country if they wanted!
That would be really great! I hope we do see something like that happening in the future. It may also even help with saving languages that are at risk of becoming extinct, if pupils were interested in something more unusual like that.
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jaffacakes12
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Hi!
Just wanted to add that I absolutely whole heartedly think languages should be compulsory in school. I of course understand the difficulty in acquiring sufficient resources and staff, and there's the fact that some people just can't get their head around another language no matter how much they try. But based on personal experience I just think if we try then we can make a very good and sustainable language learning system in this country.

My secondary school offered 4 languages and all year 7-9s had to learn 2. We were all assigned our languages , but for someone like me who had never given a second thought to any other language, anything was good 😂. The first German I ever heard was on the first day of year 7, and today I have an A level in it and am doing uni modules.

I honestly know that had I not been 'forced' to learn it, alongside Spanish, I would have never thought that it would bring me so much enjoyment that I'm trying to become fluent in my 4th language !! And honestly the transferable skills and resilience I've learnt is just amazing

For kids who learn and understand a new language it really awakens something in you, and it's really upsetting that I meet people at uni who never had the opportunity to learn a language the way I did and are now using whatever opportunity they get to make up for this lost time.

Obviously for kids who just do not enjoy, or can't handle a foreign language there are other things to do, but to me it just makes so much sense to give everyone the equal opportunity to try their hand at language learning and see where that goes.
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Kallisto
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(Original post by Jack22031994)
(...)


So what do you guys think? Should we have a choice between them?

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This thread is one of a series of Curriculum Conversations happening on :tsr: in July. If you would like to receive notifications for more of these, click here and tick the box.
Schools should be offered a variety of different languages for students to choice. It is certainly motivating for them to learn languages they have choosen for themselves and for good reasons. The big issue with this choice is that the school needs enough teachers for the lessons. And 'enough' in this case means having even fill-in teachers to prevent a possible cancellation of classes. That seems to be difficult for exotic languages in particular (Japanese for example).
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