Archive for languages

More Defenses of Languages and Literatures

Posted in teaching with tags on 3 January 2011 by Steve

“As debates over the fate of French, German, and Italian in higher education unfold, it is easy to feel dismay over the material decline of those languages and the traditions they represent. But there may be a silver lining to the trend …” (more)

[Mark Bauerlein, Minding the Campus, 3 January]

Which Languages Should Liberal Arts be About in 2010?

Posted in teaching with tags on 13 December 2010 by Steve

“… Out of the 6000 languages in the world, why is it so vital for smart people to learn the one spoken in one small European country of ever-waning influence and its former colonies? Isn’t the sense of French as a keystone of an education a legacy of when few met foreigners who spoke non-European languages, French was educated Europe’s lingua franca, and the elite who went to college often had plans to do the Grand Tour? …” (more)

[John McWhorter, The New Republic, 13 December]

John le Carré opposes Swansea University language cuts

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 1 November 2010 by Steve

“Best selling author John le Carré has joined a campaign opposing cuts to Swansea University’s modern languages department …” (more)

[BBC News, 1 November]

Languages are still key to understanding

Posted in teaching with tags on 15 October 2010 by Steve

“We would like to join our voices, from the humanities perspective, to the protest made by Michael Atiyah and others against the government’s priorities (Letters, 13 October). The threat to modern languages departments, at the universities of Swansea, Sussex and elsewhere …” (more)

[Marina Warner and Gillian Beer, Guardian, 15 October]

Pupils worst in EU for foreign languages

Posted in teaching with tags on 25 September 2010 by Steve

“Irish schoolchildren are the worst in Europe for learning foreign languages. Almost one-fifth of teenagers leave school without a foreign language, according to a new study …” (more)

[Sarah Collins, Independent, 25 September]

The language frontier

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 5 September 2010 by Steve

“In 1977 I remember hearing an interview on RTÉ (Irish radio) with Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, the former President of Ireland. He told the story of how, when on an official visit to China, he had indicated to his Chinese hosts that, on the occasion of a planned dinner in his honour in Beijing, he wished to speak in Irish …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 5 September]

Language gap is latest threat to jobs

Posted in teaching with tags on 20 April 2010 by Steve

“Only 8 per cent of Irish secondary pupils learn two or more foreign languages, the European average is 60 per cent. How are we getting it so wrong? …” (more)

[Gráinne Faller, Irish Times, 20 April]

Thousands of language places for unemployed graduates absolutely necessary

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 4 April 2010 by Steve

“Making thousands of language training places available for graduates who are unemployed will play a vital role in getting these people back to work and underpin Ireland’s ‘new economy’ according to Fine Gael Education Spokesman, Brian Hayes TD …” (more)

[Fine Gael, 4 April]

Boys still bottom of class for languages

Posted in teaching with tags on 3 April 2010 by Steve

“Boys continue to lag behind girls in language skills in second-level schools, a new report has found. And a leading educationalist last night warned the underperformance of teenage boys must be tackled urgently …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 3 April]

Pupils’ novel approach: skip the book, watch a DVD

Posted in teaching with tags on 10 March 2010 by Steve

“Higher level Leaving Certificate Italian students prepared for an essay on a prescribed novel without actually reading the book in the foreign language. A number of last year’s students took the easy option by reading an English translation of the book – or by simply watching the DVD …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 10 March]

State of the art Languages Facility Opens at UL

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 8 February 2010 by Steve

“The Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power T.D., today (Monday 1st February) opened a new state-of-the-art Languages Building at the University of Limerick. Speaking in advance on the opening, Minister Power said: ‘this building will provide a focal point for students, teachers and researchers, helping to promote language learning on campus and throughout the region …’” (more)

[University of Limerick News and Events, 1 February]

Foreign languages becoming ‘privilege of elite’

Posted in teaching with tags , on 22 January 2010 by Steve

“Foreign language lessons are becoming the privilege of elite and wealthy children, a Government adviser warns today as figures showed another drop in teenagers studying the subject. The blame was pinned on the over-cluttered curriculum which offers myriad choices at the age of 14, including the new diploma, and confuses pupils by pulling them in too many directions …” (more)

[Nicola Woolcock, Times, 21 January]

Languages are becoming ‘twilight subjects’ at state schools

Posted in teaching with tags , on 20 January 2010 by Steve

“Pupils in comprehensives are disqualifying themselves from top jobs and places at some of the country’s best universities because so few are studying a foreign language, a report claims. Most state schools in England have abandoned a government target to keep at least half their pupils studying a language until the age of 16, the study reveals …” (more)

[Jessica Shepherd, Guardian, 20 January]

Only English Spoken

Posted in teaching with tags , on 27 October 2009 by Steve

USA“When the young François-Marie Arouet was a student at the Jesuit collège Louis-le-Grand in 18th-century Paris, he spent many of his classroom hours studying Latin, along with a little ancient Greek. Had he ventured over to the nearby Collège Royal, today the Collège de France, he could have also taken lessons in Hebrew, Arabic, or Syriac. During a subsequent two-year stay in England, Arouet made it a priority to learn English; he would later pick up Italian. Upon his return, he published the Letters Concerning the English Nation (subsequently renamed the Lettres philosophiques), a founding text of the French Enlightenment, which established its author’s reputation as the philosophe called Voltaire. As any foreign language instructor knows well, the study of languages alone does not a genius make …” (more)

[Dan Edelstein, Inside Higher Ed, 26 October]

Crucial subjects disappearing from syllabuses

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 24 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“One in every 12 secondary schools has lost a science subject this year, a new survey has found. Other subjects that are also crucial for the development of the ‘knowledge economy’ have also disappeared from some schools, according to the results of four separate surveys carried out in schools. These include applied maths, economics, accountancy, agricultural science, French and German …” (more)

[John Walshe, Independent, 23 October]

Language courses are being ‘dumbed down’, report finds

Posted in teaching with tags , on 21 October 2009 by Steve

UK“Universities are today accused of ‘dumbing down’ language degrees in a desperate bid to attract new students, according to a report that reveals the beleaguered state of the discipline in English higher education. Student numbers have dropped by 5% in the last five years, while a third of departments have closed in the last seven, the report finds. The government is accused of neglecting languages by diverting funding to science, technology and engineering subjects and universities are accused of ‘betraying’ the discipline by replacing language courses with ‘cultural studies’ …” (more)

[Polly Curtis, Guardian, 20 October]

Education cutbacks copper-fasten Ireland’s poor record in languages

Posted in teaching with tags , on 7 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Recently published statistics on language learning in secondary schools show that almost Ireland lags way behind in the teaching of foreign languages. Almost one in five Irish pupils don’t learn any foreign language. Only eight per cent of Irish pupils learn two or more languages compared to a European average of over 60 per cent. This means other European countries have over seven times as many pupils learning two or more foreign languages. These statistics are shocking but not surprising …” (more)

[Ruairi Quinn TD, Labour Party Blog, 7 October]

Auf Wiedersehen, dept?

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 22 September 2009 by Steve

UK“… Faced with the closure of German departments across the country, she’s having to expand her search to research posts in bibliography – the academic study of books. Germanists like her, she says, ‘are having to take our passion for our subject behind closed doors, into libraries and archives’. Next month, another university’s senate will debate a proposal from senior management to close its German department in 2013. The full-time lecturer, full-time teaching fellow and part-time teaching fellow who make up the University of Leicester’s German department have been told the future of their department is ‘unsustainable’ …” (more)

[Jessica Shepherd, Guardian, 22 September]

Universities ‘forced to stop teaching languages’

Posted in teaching with tags , on 9 September 2009 by Steve

UK“Universities are being forced to abandon the teaching of pure languages after the government dropped mandatory lessons in secondary schools, the head of Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, is warning as its annual conference starts today. Applications to language degrees are drying up and those that are left are increasingly dominated by private school pupils, Steve Smith, who is also vice-chancellor of Exeter University, said. Universities are dropping pure language degrees to do ‘language and culture’ alternatives …” (more)

[Polly Curtis, Guardian, 9 September]

UK will fall behind on languages

Posted in teaching with tags , on 15 July 2009 by Steve

UKThe Guardian must be congratulated for its efforts to teach its readers foreign languages with its phrasebooks and CDs. But while you lead on promoting foreign languages, our universities are falling behind. At a time when demand for fluency in global languages is rising, it is ironic that the University of the West of England, Imperial College and the University of Exeter are joining the ranks of universities to have massively cutbacks in provision of foreign languages …” (more)

[Sally Hunt, Guardian, 15 July]