Enabling communication between people of different nations would help to promote peace and understanding. In addition, if the UK is to make a success of increasing trade with the rest of the world after Brexit it needs people with language skills.
But foreign language understanding in the UK is low and probably getting lower. According to Eurostat’s Foreign language skills statistics, the UK had the lowest number of people reporting they knew one or more foreign languages of all European countries in 2016.
One reason for this is that we speak English, which according to Babbel.com, has more speakers than any other language. When we travel abroad we are therefore likely to find someone who speaks English and therefore have less need to learn foreign languages.
Teaching foreign languages is one way to try to overcome this problem. But the number of GCSE language exams being taken has been in decline for many years.
Coventry Modern Foreign Languages Hub
The Coventry MFL Hub has grown over the last few years, with a core group of committed and passionate teachers, both specialist and non-specialist, primary and secondary teachers working together to achieve a common vision, laid out in this document. Primary MFL has been a compulsory area of the KS2 curriculum for the last 6 years, but there is still much work to be done. Many non-specialist teachers and head teachers are nervous of the subject as they are unaware of how to teach a language that they are not familiar with, which is perfectly understandable.
The UK now has less language students at degree level than ever before, and even if every language graduate went into MFL teaching, it would still not be possible to fill all the vacancies. Therefore it is imperative that we work with non-specialist teachers to empower them to give opportunities to instil love of languages and culture at the earliest opportunity.
The MFL hub aims to:
- Link all primary and secondary MFL departments and co-ordinators to ensure the best possible provision and excellent transition between KS2 and 3.
- Build relationships with organisations across Coventry, and beyond, who value MFL and languages, as well as the arts and beyond.
- Create opportunities for cultural capital.
- To be a forward thinking and leading Local Authority (LA).
- Offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and training to teachers within the LA (and perhaps outside) in good practice.
- Appoint ‘patrons’ for Coventry MFL Hub who would potentially help us to inspire young people and promote the need for language learning.
- Advise and train head teachers, in particular Primary head teachers who many not have full understanding of MFL within the curriculum.
- Build a bank of resources for MFL teachers (in particular primary) to support, improve provision and quality.
- Celebrate ALL languages spoken in our schools and communities.
- Engage parents in both supporting their children’s language learning and educating them on the importance of MFL.