Archive for March, 2010

Schoolkids speak many languages

Posted on March 5th, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, Education, English, Research | 1 Comment »

Children and languageThere’s been a lot of debate recently about language learning in schools in the UK. The government has shifted the focus of language teaching to primary schools, with high school students not required to learn a second language at GCSE level.

Interestingly, it seems that teaching a second non-English language may not be the only issue for the government. Surveys have revealed that in some parts of the country, pupils are attending school with little or no English.

A Government study found last year that some 240 different languages are spoken by schoolchildren in the home across Britain as a whole, with one-in-seven primary school pupils not speaking English as a first language across the UK.

There are 10 schools in the UK where no child speaks English as a first language, the figures show.

Staff and pupils at Fairlight Primary School in Brighton resorted to learning sign language to communicate, with children speaking 26 different languages at home in 2008. (Source: Telegraph)

A survey in Reading, England, has found that 150 languages and dialects are spoken by pupils in its area, including the Indian language of Telugu and the Ghanaian dialect of Akan. This incredible diversity is making it difficult to provide for all pupils. I wonder if, rather than seeing it as a negative thing, their knowledge could be used to help others – child to child language exchange perhaps?

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Posted on March 3rd, 2010by Michelle
In German, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

Guido WesterwelleUm, no. I don’t. I learned a little in school, and was apparently quite good at it, but all of that knowledge has disappeared now. My apologies to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is on a mission to promote his native language.

Westerwelle is promoting his global campaign called “Language of Ideas” which aims to encourage more people to speak German. And why is he promoting German over other languages?

“It is the key to more than 350 German universities and colleges, to Europe’s largest economy,” Westerwelle said. “It grants access to German literature, music, philosophy, and science, to the wealth of great European cultural traditions and, not least, it is the key to realizing one’s own goals and ideas.” (Source: Washington Post)

There are around 101 million native German speakers in Europe with more learning the language. Here in the UK, it’s generally thought that German is an ugly or harsh-sounding language, but Westerwelle calls it “beautiful”. From my experience, I can say that the sounds become more pleasing the more you hear it spoken!

Are you learning German? Do you think it’s “beautiful”?