University of Cambridge > > Second Language Education Group > LANGUAGES IN THE CURRICULUM - REMOVING THE MONOCULTURAL STRAIT JACKET


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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ewa Illakowicz.

Over 50 years ago HH Stern made a startling claim about the role of languages in the school curriculum. Describing education systems as still in the main “ monocultural, monolinguistic and ethnocentric,” he described the far reaching and potentially subversive consequences of introducing a foreign languages into this “limited monoglot world” . How much more should this be the case in the 21st Century with its buzzwords such as Globalisation, Intercultural Understanding, Plurilingualism – words which did not exist when Stern was writing. And yet we still have far to travel. The idea of “languages for all” has become widely accepted, but the reality in many secondary schools is one of “languages for some”. We have made major advances in introducing languages into the primary curriculum, but the significance of this reform hardly impinges on our educational debates. The Rose review accepts languages (linked to English and communication) as a given. The Cambridge Review says very little. This could mean that the learning of languages is now a sine qua non of our conception of education, or more likely that it is still regarded as desirable but not essential In this talk I will examine the English view of language learning, relating this to the progress we have undoubtedly made since Stern’s time, but also seeking to challenge the idea that monolingualism is normal and that another language is just a bonus. On the contrary knowledge of more than one language combined with intercultural understanding are core attributes of a human and a 21st century citizen. Monolingualism is a handicap. Language learning is – or needs to be – one of the golden threads in children’s learning journey.

Dr Lid King has extensive experience of languages teaching, materials development and examining at secondary level, and in Adult and Higher Education. As Director of CILT (1992-2003) he played a major part in expanding the work of the organisation, spearheading a range of national and European projects, including the establishment of the Comenius network and the initiation of support for Primary Languages. He was centrally involved in the development of support services on languages to British business, and the establishment of a Languages National Training Organisation in 1997,

In September 2003, he took up the post of National Director for Languages with responsibility for the effective implementation of the National Languages Strategy, and its centrepiece of an entitlement to language learning for all pupils in Key Stage 2. Between 2006 and 2007 Lid worked with Lord Dearing on the “Languages Review” of which he is co-author.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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