Its been a while since I’ve written as my personal life has been a bit busy, but I just wanted to talk about the new government’s plans with the E-Bac.
If you don’t know, the E-Bac (English Baccalaureate) is a measurement of achievement in English, maths, science, geography or history and a modern foreign language.
According to the various websites, including the Guardian, the E-Bac suite of subjects will have a large impact on school’s grading and position in league tables. Many out there are up in arms over the inclusion of MFL in this group of subjects and I am a bit fed up of reading the same old arguments such as the E-Bac will marginalise creative subjects and not everyone is good at a language so why make them study one?
Personally, I would argue that a language is one of the most essential skills anyone can have- aside from literacy and numeracy. A foreign language can help you with the understanding of your own language, enhances your cultural awareness and gives you broader communication skills. Even students who have literacy issues can benefit from a foreign language (tailored to their unique learning needs) and I don’t hold with removing them from MFL lessons.
A forward-thinking school would also not let the E-Bac marginalise any creative subject if timetables and option blocks are carefully thought through.
I grew up in the days of compulsory MFL and lots of students found a language hard (and did not gain higher than a C grade). Working in a school where no more than 35% of our cohort take a foreign language I can see the pitfalls with asking all of our students to take a foreign language, however, if it becomes compulsory, then surely students will begin to see the importance of language study? Just because a student finds maths or English difficult, doesn’t mean we let them stop taking it. They provide essential skills for the students’ future and I would argue that so do languages. For me, studying a language gave me the opportunity to experience worlds that I would never have known. Now imagine those same experiences available to our students? Living and working abroad? Meeting different people? Learning and living different cultures? It may even make future generations more tolerant citizens-something which is needed at the moment. We live in a globa community now and we must ensure our young people can access it just as well as those in the rest of Europe can-we’d be doing them an injustice if we didn’t!
I know that there will be challenges with introducing MFL for all. Lessons would need to be engaging, motivating and full of culture as well as the necessary building blocks of grammar and vocabulary, and we’d need more timetable time in which to do this – a difficult ask from most schools. Excellent teachers will also need to be recruited and retained and after the loss of languages teachers back in 2006 this may take a while to bring up to scratch.
What are your thoughts?
The government information is here.