‘Don’t co­erce young to learn new lan­guage’

Western Mail - - WM2 -

THERE was a very in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sion on the is­sue of chil­dren learn­ing for­eign languages on BBC Break­fas­time on Novem­ber 14.

It was very in­ter­est­ing to hear the is­sue of chil­dren learn­ing a new lan­guage be­ing pro­fes­sion­ally dis­cussed with­out the emo­tion and po­lit­i­cal rhetoric that sur­rounds learn­ing Welsh in Wales. Pro­fes­sion­ally qual­i­fied, ex­pe­ri­enced lan­guage teach­ers were in­ter­viewed, who un­der­stand chil­dren’s needs.

Ian Fenn, head teacher, Bur­nage Academy for Boys, con­tended that al­though there is need for chil­dren to learn a new lan­guage, that the need for chil­dren to de­velop English flu­ency, maths and sci­ence re­mains a vi­tal pri­or­ity.

We never hear from Cymdei­thas yr Iaith, which is a di­rect-ac­tion po­lit­i­cal pres­sure group, re­fer­ring to this in their de­mands for all chil­dren to learn through the medium of Welsh in Wales.

Ian Fenn con­tended that co­erc­ing

chil­dren to learn new, ad­di­tional languages had a neg­a­tive ef­fect upon their learn­ing of them. There is ev­i­dence in Ire­land that co­erc­ing chil­dren to learn Ir­ish has caused re­sent­ment against the lan­guage there.

The is­sue of learn­ing an ad­di­tional lan­guage is a pro­fes­sional teach­ing is­sue, not a lan­guage one. The fu­ture of chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion is too im­por­tant to be left to po­lit­i­cal rhetoric, hope, op­ti­mism and guess­work. Howard Gunn (re­tired teacher) Ton­teg, Pon­typridd

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