My Authors
Read all threads
Hey #mfltwitterati!
There are lots of debates about next year & what schools' priorities should be. In the longer term, if MFL is ever to grow again we need to know how we earn our place in the timetable.

So, what is the purpose of language learning in the UK in 2020? A thread:
In the 1980s Britain of Thatcher & enthusiastic membership of the European Community, the government accepted the consensus that the purpose of language learning was communication.
Seems logical, right ? Image
But the world has changed a lot since 1980, including the dominance of English, driven by complex & powerful forces English is, for now, THE world's intermediary language. Eg there are 50 times more degrees taught in English in Europe alone than only 10 years ago. Image
In non-anglophone countries, the rationale for learning to communicate in English is self-evident. The 'usefulness' argument is strong. The same simply doesn't apply to UK learners of DE, FR, ES, Mandarin etc. Still useful, but not in the same way or to same extent.
Firstly because whatever language they learn, they're not as likely to need it or be able to use it as non-anglophone learners using English. That's a statistical fact for now. Secondly our learners are much less exposed to their TL than learners of English. So they're less good.
Of course *we* MFLers know that there is so huge value in language learning. We believe in openness & balance. Languages are amazingly enriching, with cognitive benefits too. But if the purpose of MFL is just about communication, then we just diminish in importance every day.
Making it all about communication is also risky: it alienates & demotivates all those who for legitimate reasons can't imagine going to the TL country. It's especially harmful for German and puts MFLs in toxic league table competitions of utility.
But if languages aren't about communication, what *is* their purpose? Well is the only purpose of history to know facts about the past? Do we learn Psychology to be psychologists? Do we study English lit ... to become novelists? Throughout the curriculum, subjects' purposes
extend far beyond their practical use. French is not less valuable than Spanish, nor more valuable than Welsh or Italian, just by virtue of its number of speakers. We don't need - can't afford - to carry on talking about language learning being for communicative purposes only.
Academics & researchers have been writing about this for over 20 years. But the fact that we 'need' languages less than other countries (or at least that's what young people & many families understandably believe) shouldn't not frighten us. On the contrary, it's an opportunity.
An opportunity to reimagine & reinvigorate languages on a more credible & sustainable footing. I love these words from David Bellos. The value of MFL is immense. MFL might be useful for some, but it's valuable for everyone. It makes us great worthsmiths, it makes us logical, Image
it enables us to see the world through new words & it helps us question our ethnocentricity. It shows we're open to others and makes us so. MFL is the core of a liberal universal education. Across EU countries, intercultural competence & linguistic skills lie at the heart of
MFL curricula, alongside familiar communicative skills. UK MFL could benefit from this sort of rebalancing - which seizes the many virtues of being a linguist & which recognises that the motivational context in anglophone countries simply IS different, whether we like it or not.
Many reading this will stick to communication as the purpose. I understand that. But I believe in *growing* MFL, and focussing overly on communication for me runs a big risk of ever greater irrelevance. Any growth will require change & trade offs, and for me this rebalancing
is a very rich and exciting change to make, even if it might in theory have drawbacks for communicative fluency (though this isn't proven and I'd beg to different). Well done & thank you #mfltwitterati if you've got this far: here's a photo of my beautiful puppy Heidi as reward! Image
Haha ironic that I mistyped wordsmiths. Perhaps it doesn't after all!
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Keep Current with 𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢 𝙈𝙁𝙇

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!