Yesterday my manager made a comment and it made me think. She was chatting to one of the girls who used to work here, who is now a languages teacher. They were discussing about teaching languages and about how there is a need for teachers and stuff like that.
When I was at middle school, French was compulsory, it was a school decided idea that we should be taught French in Year 5. (Recently the curriculum was changed so that languages would be taught from Year 3 – the beginning of Key Stage 2)
I loved learning French until Year 9 when I started Upper School – my teacher went on maternity leave and our cover teacher couldn’t control the class – me and some of the my class went to the head of department. What waas the point in going to the lessons if the teacher spent most of the time trying to get the class to settle rather than teaching the class (or at least those who wanted to learn)
So at the end of Year 9 I decided that I would give up French and select Italian as my GCSE Language choice. I managed to stick it out till the end of Year 12. My main reason for giving that up was that I loved speaking it but you had to learn it for the exam rather than just for learning it. I didn’t understand my written paper and really struggled. I breezed through my speaking exam – I knew the answers about my family, where I lived and hobbies like that – I even regurgitated my presentation about Leonardo Da Vinci without hesitation but do you think I could do the written paper.
So I gave it up. I did miss it because I loved it but these things had to be done.
So when I looked at teaching after my degree I was offered the opportunity to do a PGCE in Primary Education with Italian at the Uni of Bedfordshire. At this point I hadn’t spoken Italian in about 4 years so you can imagine that teaching Italian wasn’t top of my list.
But now I work in a job where speaking French or German would be advantageous – Italian is handy but not really used in the company I work for. Occasionally I translate emails and try to speak to our Italian distributor in Italian but it’s a bit restricted and English tends to take over. I tend to reach for Google Translator most of the time when needed – I managed to organise an order for a Polish customer this way!!
Anyway so yay to languages! But no to teaching to exam standards etc – can’t you learn a language because you want to?!