Language education

From Academic Kids

Language education is the teaching and learning of a language or languages, usually as foreign languages.

Contents

Foreign language teaching around Europe.

In 1995 the European Commission’s White Paper "Teaching and learning – Towards the learning society", stated that "upon completing initial training, everyone should be proficient in two Community foreign languages". The Lisbon Summit of 2000 defined languages as one of the five key skills.

In fact, even in 1974, at least one foreign language was compulsory in all but two European countries (Ireland and the United Kingdom apart from Scotland). By 1998 nearly all pupils in Europe studied at least one foreign language as part of their compulsory education, the only exception being Ireland, where primary and secondary schoolchildren learn both Irish and English, but neither is considered a foreign language. Pupils in upper secondary education learn at least two foreign languages in Belgium's Flemish Community, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.

On average in Europe, at the start of foreign language teaching, learners have lessons for three to four hours a week. Compulsory lessons in a foreign language normally start at the end of primary school or the start of secondary school. In Luxembourg, Norway and Malta, however, the first foreign language is learnt at age six, and in Belgium's Flemish Community at age 10. Half of the EU's primary school pupils learn a foreign language, on average.

English is the language taught most often at lower secondary level in the EU. 93% of children there learn English. At upper secondary level, English is even more widely taught.

French is taught at lower secondary level in all EU countries except Slovenia. A total of 33% of European Union pupils learn French at this level. At upper secondary level the figure drops slightly to 28%.

German is taught in nearly all EU countries. A total of 13% of pupils in the European Union learn German in lower secondary education, and 20% learn it at an upper secondary level.

Despite the high rate of foreign language teaching in schools, the number of adults claiming to speak a foreign language is generally lower than might be expected. This is particularly true of native English speakers: in 2004 a British survey showed that only one in 10 UK workers could speak a foreign language. Less than 5% could count to 20 in a second language, for example. 80% said they could work abroad anyway, because "everyone speaks English". In 2001, a European Commission survey found that 65.9% of people in the UK spoke only their native tongue.

Since the 1990s, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has tried to standardize the learning of languages across Europe.

Bilingual education

See main article: Bilingual education

In some countries, learners have lessons taken entirely in a foreign language: for example, more than half of European countries with a minority or regional language community use partial immersion to teach both the minority and the state language.

In the 1960s and 1970s, some central and eastern European countries created a system of bilingual schools for well-performing pupils. Subjects other than languages were taught in a foreign language. In the 1990s this system was opened to all pupils in general education, although some countries still make candidates sit an entrance exam. At the same time, Belgium's French Community, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland also started bilingual schooling schemes. Germany meanwhile had established some bilingual schools in the late 1960s.

Methods of teaching foreign languages

There are several methods in wide use:

  • Immersive language education places students in a situation where they must use a foreign language, whether or not they know it. This creates fluency, but not accuracy of usage.
  • Tutoring by a native speaker is one of the best all-around methods. However it requires a motivated native tutor, which can be a rare, expensive commodity.
  • Directed practice has students repeat phrases. This method is used by U.S. diplomatic courses. It can quickly provide a "phrasebook" knowledge of the language. Within these limits, the students' usage is accurate and precise. However the student's choice of what to say is not flexible.
  • Absorptive has students listen to or view video tapes of language models acting in situations. Most instructors now acknowledge that this method is ineffective by itself.
  • Grammatic instructs students in grammar, and provides vocabulary to memorize. Most instructors now acknowledge that this method is ineffective by itself.
  • Communicative language teaching (CLT) is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language.
  • Eclectic methods combine the above into a single course of study. These are the most common.

Acronyms and initialisms

  • CALL — Computer assisted language learning
The study or learning of English in an environment where English is already the predominant language, such as in an English speaking country, by someone whose first language is not English.
  • EFL — English as a foreign language
The study or learning of English in an environment where English is not already the predominant language, such as in a non English speaking country, by someone whose first language is not English.
  • ESL — English as a second language
The study or learning of English in an environment where English is the predominant language, by someone whose first language is not English.
  • L1 — First language, mother language
  • L2 — Second language
  • SLA — Second language acquisition
  • TELL — Technology-enhanced language learning
The teaching of English in an environment where English is not already the predominant language, such as in a non-English-speaking country, to someone whose first language is not English.
The teaching of English in an environment where English is the predominant language, to someone whose first language is not English.
  • TESOL — Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (or) Teaching English as a Second or Other Language
This acronym might be a substitute for TESL more than for TEFL. It is sometimes preferred over TESL because English can be a third, fourth or fifth, etc. language to a student.
  • ELT — English Language teaching
  • TOEFL — Test of English as Foreign Language
  • TOEIC — Test of English for International Communication
  • TPR — Total Physical Response
  • TPRS — Total Physical Response Storytelling

See also

External links

es:Enseñanza de idiomas fr:Enseignement des langues étrangères zh:語言教育

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