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Modern languages in decline

Modern languages in decline

Old Aug 16th 2012, 12:45 pm
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Default Modern languages in decline

Following the publication of the 'A level' results research claims that the study of French, Spanish and German are in decline.
Maybe todays students believe that English is all they need for a future in the modern buisness world or maybe they're learning Mandarin.
Is learning English on the decline in European countries I wonder.
Tom Daley got an A in Spanish and plans to study it to a higher level, maybe we will see him on here soon.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 12:48 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

I remember reading about ten years ago that language teachers in the UK were starting to think they were wasting their time as there was so little call for bilingual native English speakers.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 1:18 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

My husband has a fascinating book 'The last lingua franca - English until the return of Babel' by Nicolas Ostler.

This is the summary on Amazon:

"In this provocative and persuasive new book, Nicholas Ostler challenges our assumption that English will continue to dominate as the global lingua franca. Drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of world languages and their history, Ostler reveals that just as past great languages like Latin and Sanskrit have died out, so English will follow.The influence of English now is hard to exaggerate - it is the world's preferred medium for business, science and entertainment, and is claimed to be a basic educational tool like mathematics or computing. So is it here to stay? For the last four centuries, the dominant world power has been English-speaking, but the global balance of power is shifting. And in countries like Brazil, Russia and China, English plays no part in the national tradition. Although globalization has helped the rise of English, trade, migration, economic development and technological innovation are now changing the way we access and use language. Ostler shows how we are headed towards a much more multilingual and diverse future. And as English retreats, no single language will take its place.We can embrace this future but first we need to accept it: the last competitive advantage of native English-speakers will soon be consigned to history."

Why learn another language when you can use Google translate? I was encourage to learn german instead of spanish as a third language at school (french was compulsory). The reason for that was that german was going to be the business language of europe and spanish was only any use for holidays. I don't think my teachers could have got it more wrong and I've regretted not doing the spanish ever since.

Like this from Goethe though :

"He who is not acquainted with foreign languages knows nothing of his own."

If I had a teenage child I'd be encouraging him/her to learn mandarin.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 1:36 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

I think it's sad that education these days is all geared towards business. There is so much more to life! I did languages at school and I love being able to read all that wonderful French and Spanish literature in the original. Translations often lose the magic.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 1:42 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Pocaloca View Post
I think it's sad that education these days is all geared towards business. There is so much more to life! I did languages at school and I love being able to read all that wonderful French and Spanish literature in the original. Translations often lose the magic.
Is education geared towards business? I agree with you it shouldn't be but the advice I got from my teachers was given over 40 years ago and aimed at getting me into university.
In recent years employers and universities have done nothing but complain that schools turn out students who are barely able to string a sentence together in their own language let alone anyone elses. As for reading books!
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 1:52 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Rambling Rose View Post
Is education geared towards business? I agree with you it shouldn't be but the advice I got from my teachers was given over 40 years ago and aimed at getting me into university.
In recent years employers and universities have done nothing but complain that schools turn out students who are barely able to string a sentence together in their own language let alone anyone elses. As for reading books!
I think education is much more geared towards improving your job prospects these days, from GCSE onwards. Studying something for the love of it has become a luxury and even frowned on. Maybe it's because it is so much harder to get a job now, and you have to start planning your career path when you are 12!
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 1:58 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

I can honestly say i wished id had the option of learning Spanish whilst i was at school - i learned French and can get by there - i feel embarrased when i go to Spain that i am very limited in what i can say - i can a little more than i can speak and can usually work out menus - but thats about it xxxxx
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 2:04 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Pocaloca View Post
I think it's sad that education these days is all geared towards business. There is so much more to life! I did languages at school and I love being able to read all that wonderful French and Spanish literature in the original. Translations often lose the magic.
how can you say such a thing !!

most businesses will tell you that they cannot get people who understand business, letalone speak another language that covers business terms.

lets start off with the word Bolsa = bag
unless
bolsa (de valores) = stock exchange, stock market
la bolsa de Madrid = the Madrid Stock Exchange
la bolsa ha subido/bajado = share prices have gone up/down
jugar a la bolsa = to speculate on the stock market

all use variations on the base word that have no relationship to the day-to-day useage of the word by the ordinary person

so unless you learn Business you will be left holding the bag - and not knowing what to do with it


language is like an onion, as soon as you peel off a layer there is another underneath.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 2:05 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Rambling Rose View Post
Is education geared towards business? I agree with you it shouldn't be but the advice I got from my teachers was given over 40 years ago and aimed at getting me into university.
In recent years employers and universities have done nothing but complain that schools turn out students who are barely able to string a sentence together in their own language let alone anyone elses. As for reading books!
wots "books" miss
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:03 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Rambling Rose View Post
My husband has a fascinating book 'The last lingua franca - English until the return of Babel' by Nicolas Ostler.

This is the summary on Amazon:

"In this provocative and persuasive new book, Nicholas Ostler challenges our assumption that English will continue to dominate as the global lingua franca. Drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of world languages and their history, Ostler reveals that just as past great languages like Latin and Sanskrit have died out, so English will follow.The influence of English now is hard to exaggerate - it is the world's preferred medium for business, science and entertainment, and is claimed to be a basic educational tool like mathematics or computing. So is it here to stay? For the last four centuries, the dominant world power has been English-speaking, but the global balance of power is shifting. And in countries like Brazil, Russia and China, English plays no part in the national tradition. Although globalization has helped the rise of English, trade, migration, economic development and technological innovation are now changing the way we access and use language. Ostler shows how we are headed towards a much more multilingual and diverse future. And as English retreats, no single language will take its place.We can embrace this future but first we need to accept it: the last competitive advantage of native English-speakers will soon be consigned to history."

Why learn another language when you can use Google translate? I was encourage to learn german instead of spanish as a third language at school (french was compulsory). The reason for that was that german was going to be the business language of europe and spanish was only any use for holidays. I don't think my teachers could have got it more wrong and I've regretted not doing the spanish ever since.

Like this from Goethe though :

"He who is not acquainted with foreign languages knows nothing of his own."

If I had a teenage child I'd be encouraging him/her to learn mandarin.
"Why learn another language when you can use Google translate?"
Google's fine for lots of everyday, straightforward words, but useless at many others. Take the Spanish "caudaloso", for which English hasn't got a useful word; it refers to a river's quantity of water. Or the word "sarmiento" which Google translates as 'branch', but in Spanish is the word for vine cuttings that are used on a BBQ.

"He who is not acquainted with foreign languages knows nothing of his own."

Very true. A pity our children aren't taught English in the way foreigners learn it; eg the difference between 'countable & uncountable nouns'. That would stop people saying things like "less people" instead of the correct "fewer people".
They would also learn that "tomatoe's 80p /lb", "two DVD's for £5" or "there were lot's of car's" is incorrect.

I understand the attraction of learning Mandarin (population, business etc), but perhaps after they have an appreciation of 1 European language, whether French, Spanish, Persian or Russian.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:26 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Sam Greenfield View Post
I can honestly say i wished id had the option of learning Spanish whilst i was at school - i learned French and can get by there - i feel embarrased when i go to Spain that i am very limited in what i can say - i can a little more than i can speak and can usually work out menus - but thats about it xxxxx
Likewise, I think there may be many others amongst us who think the same thing. I used to hate French at school but maybe that was down to the teacher, yet many years later I am surprised at just how much of it stuck in my mind.
Learning languages later in life is unfortunately not quite as easy,so I regret not having the opportunity to learn Spanish back then.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:34 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Dick Dasterdly View Post
Likewise, I think there may be many others amongst us who think the same thing. I used to hate French at school but maybe that was down to the teacher, yet many years later I am surprised at just how much of it stuck in my mind.
Learning languages later in life is unfortunately not quite as easy,so I regret not having the opportunity to learn Spanish back then.
Me too - im going back to college for another go in September i think - im ok till someone speaks to me and then i just loose it completely - no confidence at all - i think youre right with the getting older remark - i sometimes think im so full up upstairs (n not always with good stuff) that i dont have room for anything else - but im gonna give it another go n see how i do - im sure it would be much easier if we were over there permanently as id have to use it more then and would get used to the speed that people talk xxxxx
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:38 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Rambling Rose View Post
My husband has a fascinating book 'The last lingua franca - English until the return of Babel' by Nicolas Ostler.

This is the summary on Amazon:

. Ostler shows how we are headed towards a much more multilingual and diverse future. And as English retreats, no single language will take its place.We can embrace this future but first we need to accept it: the last competitive advantage of native English-speakers will soon be consigned to history."

If I had a teenage child I'd be encouraging him/her to learn mandarin.
I think much of that is tosh, though I agree Mandarin could come into its own one day.

English is certainly not in retreat at the present time, in fact much the opposite is very apparent almost worldwide and as far as being consigned to the history books, though not beyond the bounds of all possibilities, I would think at least centuries into the future, ......if anyone is still around.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:47 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Sam Greenfield View Post
Me too - im going back to college for another go in September i think - im ok till someone speaks to me and then i just loose it completely - no confidence at all - i think youre right with the getting older remark - i sometimes think im so full up upstairs (n not always with good stuff) that i dont have room for anything else - but im gonna give it another go n see how i do - im sure it would be much easier if we were over there permanently as id have to use it more then and would get used to the speed that people talk xxxxx
Best of luck with that.
At my present Spanish location, I've had to make the effort with no Brits living anywhere close to me, but prior to that near a touristy area I was a tad lazy and content just to muddle along with the basics.
Wether I'll ever get used to the speed of it all combined with the weird local dialect, that seems to baffle many more than me, is another thing entirely.
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Old Aug 16th 2012, 3:52 pm
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Default Re: Modern languages in decline

Originally Posted by Dick Dasterdly View Post
I think much of that is tosh, though I agree Mandarin could come into its own one day.

English is certainly not in retreat at the present time, in fact much the opposite is very apparent almost worldwide and as far as being consigned to the history books, though not beyond the bounds of all possibilities, I would think at least centuries into the future, ......if anyone is still around.
well Mandarin - the language of the Chinese beauracrats advising the Emperor - has been around for over 800 years and is taking a long while to "come into its own" - probably declining due to outside influences.

Cantonese is more common and spoken prolifically due to the Hong Kong influence

English is probably the longest stayer in all languages, but as it lends itself to differences in speech and writing more easily than other languages what state will it be in in say 50, 100, 200 years from now ??
luckily we will not be here to see and hear it.

however, for an educated man such as Rajoy to admit he can't speak a word of English..........
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