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Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Old Jul 21st 2011, 1:28 pm
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Default Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

In 2001 78% of British schoolchildren took a foerign language at GCSE, but by 2010 this had fallen to just 43%.

A foreign langauge has never been compulsory as part of the national curriculum, but many schools used to insist that pupils took at least foreign language to age 16. The knock on effect appears to be that university language departments are reducing, with an overall decline in interest in both foreign language and literature.

This cannot be a good thing for the future of British business, as we become even less able to communicate in another language. Heaven knows the British are bad enough at langauages now. I know much of the world seems to speak English (or something like it!) but why do you think we are we so lazy at learning about other languages and culture?

BBC Radio 4 programme on the topic: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qtnz
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 1:33 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Wakaranai ne.
Iyo preferisco una cappucino per favore.
Wo xiang ni.
Je ne parle pas francais.
Gesundheit.
Na Sdorovye.
Futura.

Dunno what's wrong with the kids of today, foreign languages are easy.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 1:35 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

I don't see this as a problem. Let me explain.

The problem is not the number of students doing a different language but the languages offered at the schools. French and German are pointless languages. If schools taught useful ones in the first place (Arabic and Mandarin) then I think uptake could be higher but more importantly the impact would be greater.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 1:41 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Bahtatboy View Post
Wakaranai ne.
Iyo preferisco una cappucino per favore.
Wo xiang ni.
Je ne parle pas francais.
Gesundheit.
Na Sdorovye.
Futura.

Dunno what's wrong with the kids of today, foreign languages are easy.
My daughter (In the UK) learned French, as her first Foreign Language from 11 until 16. Then she took Hindi, from 16 onwards.

My own Language Cells were flooded with 'French and Russian' when at school. French was used for a Post Grad Period in Paris, Russian was used in Dubai, and now I have a few smatterings of Hindi, Tagalog, and Arabic.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 2:02 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Millhouse View Post
I don't see this as a problem. Let me explain.

The problem is not the number of students doing a different language but the languages offered at the schools. French and German are pointless languages. If schools taught useful ones in the first place (Arabic and Mandarin) then I think uptake could be higher but more importantly the impact would be greater.
I agree that a choice of alternative languages might help, but that is very costly. I also think that once you get some mastery of one foreign language you are more inclined to learn another.

I don't believe that French and German are useless, as we are part of Europe and there are plenty of opportunities for work and business across the continent, if only the Brits had the ability to converse in another tongue. On a global scale I can see that Arabic or Mandarin would be useful, but overall possibly to less people than a European one could be on a more regular basis.

Whatever foreign language is studied, I just think that it is important to learn at least one. We all know that it's easier to learn such things whilst young, to the earlier it starts in schools the better in my view.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 2:10 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

There are currently more Chinese learning English than the population of the UK....
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 2:11 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Meow View Post
I agree that a choice of alternative languages might help, but that is very costly. I also think that once you get some mastery of one foreign language you are more inclined to learn another.
I believe one can go further - learning a second language whilst young makes it *easier* to learn another.

Learning French and German are helpful in understanding English and all its quirks, such as why cow (root word became "Kuh" in German) but beef (root word became "boeuf" in French) - as is Latin but that's getting into the why-bother category. French is still needed in many places in Africa. French is also a useful foundation for Spanish and Portugese. Spanish is a useful foundation for Arabic (thanks to the sheer number of loan words).

Wider access to non-European languages in general would be great, though. Wish I'd done as I'd wanted and learned Japanese in school - it would have made Korean a damn sight easier.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Oyibopeppeh View Post
There are currently more Chinese learning English than the population of the UK....
And soon, there'll be more Swedes learning Mandarin. I think this is a wise move with China's growth, but it will take time to find people with the skills. Why Spanish hasn't been on the national curriculum (excuse me if it is), is beyond me. It's a pretty useful language to know. French I can understand, but German should have been dropped ages ago. Some hangover from WWII or something?
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 6:53 pm
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Smile Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Can’t we just all agree on one? Not Esperanto though .
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 7:02 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Charismatic View Post
Can’t we just all agree on one? Not Esperanto though .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_English_or_Die
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 7:18 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Paracletus View Post
but German should have been dropped ages ago. Some hangover from WWII or something?
Ha ha ha ja! Es ist also nicht so, dass die Wirtschaft Deutschlands (nach dem BIP) die viertgroesste weltweit ist! Ho ho ho!



In dieser Antwort wurde kein Nazi verletzt...
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 7:48 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by typical View Post
Ha ha ha ja! Es ist also nicht so, dass die Wirtschaft Deutschlands (nach dem BIP) die viertgroesste weltweit ist! Ho ho ho!



In dieser Antwort wurde kein Nazi verletzt...
No, not really. German is pretty contained to Germany..and at least the younger generation has learned English to a higher standard than their previous generations. But I wouldn't equate size of economy to importance of language. If all your trading partners speak English, and few speak yours...well? What gives...?.

Also, in previous post, poster fell victim to Goodwin's law...but just for the lulz.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 7:50 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Paracletus View Post
Why Spanish hasn't been on the national curriculum (excuse me if it is), is beyond me. It's a pretty useful language to know. French I can understand, but German should have been dropped ages ago. Some hangover from WWII or something?
When I was at school, Spanish was a option on the curriculum and quite a few kids took it in my school, but not enough to fill a minimum of two classes in A-levels, so Oxford county did a class share, and got kids in from other schools to fill up classes and kids got to do subjects in other schools that might not have been offered in theirs, or that might have had a schedule conflict with other classes.

Must have spent a fortune in bussing kids around and getting taxi's for the weird Boys school who were out of sync with all the other schools.

This was in A-levels when I was there as a trial to broaden it to GCSE's, don't know if they did in the end though.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 8:55 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by Paracletus View Post
No, not really. German is pretty contained to Germany..and at least the younger generation has learned English to a higher standard than their previous generations. But I wouldn't equate size of economy to importance of language. If all your trading partners speak English, and few speak yours...well? What gives...?.
English has become the lingua franca of international business. There are few places in the world that younger businessmen operating internationally wouldn't speak English - whether South America, Germany, China or wherever. Indeed, your statement "at least the younger generations has learned English to a higher standard..." applies to all three places.

That doesn't mean speaking your trading partners' languages isn't an advantage.

As for Godwin's Law, there wasn't a comparison so it doesn't apply.
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Old Jul 21st 2011, 9:26 pm
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Default Re: Worrying decline in the study of foreign languages

Originally Posted by typical View Post
English has become the lingua franca of international business. There are few places in the world that younger businessmen operating internationally wouldn't speak English - whether South America, Germany, China or wherever. Indeed, your statement "at least the younger generations has learned English to a higher standard..." applies to all three places.

That doesn't mean speaking your trading partners' languages isn't an advantage.

As for Godwin's Law, there wasn't a comparison so it doesn't apply.
They might be, but if you can't speak their languages how do you know you aren't getting gipped or getting the run around?

Plus even in big business in China, it's the folks who can't that can't speak English.
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