Readers reply after the exams regulator Ofqual is accused of ‘killing off’ present-day languages via marking them too harshly. Language instructors have recognized that GCSE and A-degree exams had been subject to harder marking criteria for a long time than different topics. They’ve additionally known that students locate languages harder than maximum different subjects they study. So your record received’t come as a marvel to them (Tough assessments ‘are killing off language mastering in colleges,’ eleven May).
However, having simply returned to the schoolroom after a 25-yr ruin, it has struck me that it’s no longer just the perceived difficulty of mastering a language that has contributed to the decline in language take-up. Additionally, the obsession with testing and evaluation and the ever-in advance attention on obtaining GCSE “capabilities” (essentially exam guidance strategies) from an early age.
As quickly as students enter school at eleven, it’s made clear to them that the overriding reason they may be in college is to collect GCSEs and how essential it’s far to begin making ready for the – tests which might be five remote years away, nearly another 0.33 in their lifestyles. This comes at the rate of engendering an entertainment of the difficulty. The USP of languages is that they’re one-of-a-kind from every other concern at the curriculum. Yet, they suffer the equal dreary subjugation to GCSE project kinds, mark schemes, and grade boundaries as all the relaxation.
A radical reappraisal of the manner languages is taught their only hope for revival and, within some languages, survival. After all, if college students recognize they’re getting to know a subject that will be tougher to get an excellent grade in, what else is left to encourage them to take up a language other than sheer entertainment of the subject?
- Trevor Stevens
• As a instructor of French presently running in a secondary school, I would now not disagree with the emotions expressed in your article at the perceived chance to trendy languages teaching in the united states and accompanying letter (11 May), although I might nuance and expand them.
It isn’t always the harshness of the marking in public examinations that causes language-freshmen problems; however, the perverse pernicketiness of many of the duties students are required to undertake (pernicketiness that many local audio systems of the language discover weird and hard to navigate). More miserable, however, is the crushing banality of the content of most of the language publications supplied in faculties: of their determined (and inaccurate) pursuit of what younger human beings find “relevant.
Interesting”, shackled to the requirement to supply the government’s eye-rollingly tedious program for healthful, upright dwelling, the writers of examination board specs have also emptied the courses of any enticing intellectual content and any requirement that the students actually engage with the way of life of the nations whose languages they are gaining knowledge of. The real wonder is that any students in any respect pick out to hold with a current language at school beyond the factor to which it’s miles compulsory. Peregrine Rand
I am amazed to peer eminent academics arguing in favor of making inherently difficult topics ostensibly less difficult. • As a professional linguist, I disagree with the 152 teachers advising making modern-day language tests easier or marking them more leniently. Learning a overseas language is, with the aid of its nature, a hard organization, and that has to actually be meditated in the examinations through which pupils are examined. Similar arguments ought to no question be deployed when it comes to, say, physics or chemistry, which may be even more difficult topics to grasp, but if the effort is wanted to gain a solid grounding both in a language or in any other area, so be it. Might your correspondents really be deprecating the want for effort?
The reality remains, but that many languages are tough to learn. • The problem of the decline of language-getting to know in colleges is disturbing. One solution, consequently, would be to revive the GCSE that was provided in the easiest language spoken all through the world – Esperanto. Whether one desires to use it to speak with the thousands and thousands of audio systems worldwide or as a springboard to study other languages, its deserves must not be unnoticed.