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Archive for September, 2010

Job of the week!

Are you multilingual? Do you fancy a career in PR? Then check out our job of the week:

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When you learn a language at school, say for GCSE or at A-Level are you equipped with the necessary skills to get by in the country in question? This was the question asked in a recent article on the BBC. We all know that the uptake of languages at GCSE and A-Level is decreasing but for those who do pursue a language are they coming out with just a qualification or do they have the ability to speak the language?

The BBC article suggests not and whilst French is generally the language us Brits can speak, or can say a few words in even those that pursue it often don’t come away with an ability to speak it. In fact language expert Paul Noble goes as far as to say that “students realise that even if they do get a GCSE in French, they still won’t be able to speak the language”

So does this explain the reason why students are not taking up the language? It may be one reason but another one is surely that it is not compulsory to do so. If it were students may be inclined to carry on learning the language after GCSE.

We’ve blogged about this issue before and we certainly think that languages should be compulsory but what we also believe is that students should be taught in such a way that they can speak the language once they have finished their learning. Maybe a possible option is to make exchanges with other countries mandatory so pupils visit the country and have to speak the language?

What are your thoughts? If you studied a language at school were you able to speak it when you finished the course?

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According to research published by YouGov, school children benefit least from learning languages at school. That’s according to the adults surveyed. We were shocked to hear this, as we believe that languages are essential to a child’s learning and prove very beneficial in later life.

Of those surveyed, 95% considered maths to be the most important subject to study, 94% considered English Language to be important with IT and science following closely with 91% and 90% respectively. This may not be a surprise, but what is was the finding that only 43% of adults believe French an important language to learn. Learning German was seen as even less important with 31% followed by Spanish with just 30%.

In fact some subjects which were seen to be far more important than languages were home economics,technology and woodwork! Although it would be nice if everyone could bake a nice cake or whip up a park bench I think languages are a far more valuable skill set!

We recently blogged about the plight of languages in A Level choices and this data goes some way in showing why this may be the case. If adults see languages as unimportant they are less likely to encourage their children to take these up when they are given the choice at school. We know that languages can put you ahead of other candidates in the job hunt and provide rewarding careers but these statistics show that we have a lot of people to convince.

What are your thoughts? Do you see languages as unimportant? We hope not!

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We have heard plenty of stories about Brits abroad annoying the locals because they can’t speak the local dialect and only communicate in English. You might also get annoyed when people here don’t try to speak English when they are in this country.

Well we found a rather amusing story recently about a Welsh woman who was fed up with the lack of Welsh language used by the police. The Guardian recently reported that the women in question staged a five hour car protest in response to two parking tickets she had received.  After she had received the tickets, the police force in question had sent her several correspondences in English and not Welsh,so she refused to pay them.

Due to lack of payment her car had been clamped and she refused to move from the car so it would not be towed. She eventually agreed to pay the fine once the police force offered to review their language policy.

This just goes to show that persistence can pay off – of course we don’t know if the police force will do anything about this issue and we wouldn’t condone breaking the law, but it is certainly nice to see someone willing to go to extreme lengths, (and pay a hefty bill) in order to preserve the language they are proud of!

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Ever heard of Esperanto? If not, you might be interested in an article I came across recently which discusses it. Esperanto is a language that was created over 100 years ago and is spoken by huge numbers of people across the world and was officially recognised by the UN in 1954.

Esperanto was introduced by Dr Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Polish doctor who wanted to devise an international second language to enable people to communicate worldwide. While the language may have declined over the years, with the increased use of the internet worldwide, Esperanto is seeing a comeback! (more…)

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