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United Kingdom

Global Britain Needs to Improve Language Learning

Language and grammar updates

In this summer’s classroom at Azbuka, my governor’s bilingual elementary school in London, children designed colorful posters in two languages ​​to help them learn about coronavirus, climate change and mental health, in English and Russian. Easily switched.

Not everyone has a Russian parent, including his son who attended supplementary school on Saturday a few years ago. However, their ability to absorb language and culture in a creative and engaging way is impressive and provides lessons for Britain’s global ambitions.

Immersive learning, which leverages the strengths of different cultural backgrounds, remains an exception in the UK. Education focuses on the overly academic study of foreign languages, and too few are convinced of the broader value of foreign languages.

Most people in London speak English as a second language, says Azbuka founder Maria Gavrilova, yet they live a monolingual life. “There is a tragic reluctance to explore successful methodologies and programs for teaching a foreign language and maintaining the original language,” she says.

Recently Survey by the British Council It turns out that the first blockade last year stopped even rudimentary language education in more than half of English elementary schools, and that the fifth school was still frozen in early 2021. Public schools in poor areas were the most affected. Last year, nearly two-thirds of primary schools and two-fifths of state junior high schools did not report international activities such as traveling abroad or accepting foreign language assistants due to Covid restrictions.

Since the government abolished the obligation to acquire a foreign language until the age of 16 nearly 20 years ago, GCSE and A-level language qualifications have declined and many universities’ modern language departments have been closed.

Brexit is learning European languages ​​as new costs, new visa requirements and the abolition of the Erasmus student exchange program limit the flow of assistants and teachers from former EU partner countries and students traveling to the EU. There is a risk of further depression.

Michael Kelly, Professor Emeritus of French at the University of Southampton, warns of complacency supported by the status of English as an international language. “We need a pretty sharp awakening,” he says. “It is already clear that the EU speaks more French and less English, and the Chinese are increasingly expecting others to speak their language.”

A review of language education is essential for René Koglbauer of the University of Newcastle, chair of the board of directors of the Language Learning Association. He advocates a new national policy that emphasizes the values ​​of language and culture, backed by more compelling learning methods.

There are some positive signs. Rosanna Hume, Teach First Ambassador and Head of Spanish at the Roman Catholic University of St. Wilfrid in South Shields, said that demand for French and German is declining, but demand for Spanish is rising and students. And his parents say they are attracted to language through music. TV shows and holidays. “Especially in the UK after Brexit, it’s more important than ever to understand foreign cultures as well as vocabulary and grammar,” she says.

Pilot program, Language worldScheduled to begin in dozens of elementary and junior high schools this fall, children will take advantage of their unique and diverse heritage to explore different linguistic and cultural connections, including their role in the development of modern English. And the purpose is to inspire children.

“The only way out of the labyrinth is to celebrate the fact that many of our children are birmingham. Why do nothing more to build on it?” One of the developers And says John Clauton, a former principal of King Edward School in Birmingham. “Make them boys and girls in language posters. There is a future to celebrate multilingualism.”

Of course, not all families and communities are multilingual, and maintaining multilingual is not easy. But even single-language English speakers will benefit from a deeper understanding of foreign influences on their tongue and how they interact with other cultures.


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