Making languages matter: time for a rethink?

Writing for The Future of Languages, Education Forum member Shirley Lawes argues that the relationship between language and culture should sit at the centre of MFL teaching…

As we emerge from a year of mostly online teaching and much disruption, there is a great deal to reflect upon. There may be a strong temptation amongst Modern Foreign Languages teachers to consign the experience to the dustbin of history. But wait! Not before reflecting carefully over what has been learned from the experience both in terms of pedagogy and curriculum content, and to consider seriously whether a return to the pre-covid status quo is really the best way forward. 

Hopefully, one thing that has been learned is that there is no substitute for face-to-face teaching and the social setting of the classroom when it comes to teaching and learning a foreign language (and all other school subjects come to that). But our greater familiarity with and experience of using technology, however restricting it felt at the time, can be capitalised on rather than rejected.  How, at this critical juncture, might we begin to re-evaluate and possibly revise our vision of foreign languages in the school curriculum? The ‘covid experience’ of virtual school closure could be a break from the past that calls into question many aspects of language teaching, learning and curriculum content.  Besides many problems, this novel experience has thrown up opportunities to reflect upon and re-think the ‘normal’; to re-evaluate objectively what, how and why we teach what we teach and to think beyond prescribed content and examination specifications

Read the full article on The Future of Languages.