‘Don’t coerce young to learn new language’
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