Let’s get talking! 1000 Words for all Speak to the Future 1000 Words Campaign

Not everyone will become a fluent linguist, but the aspiration for everyone to have 1000 Words in another language is realistic and achievable. The Speak to the Future Campaign is leading the way with the new 1000 Words Challenge. The key message is: Our society and our economic prospects will be vastly transformed for the better if everyone has 1000 Words of another language! For more information go to: www.speaktothefuture.org/

The case for language learning – Guardian series

Join the national debate on the importance of language learning and help us put languages back on the agenda.’ The Guardian, supported by the British Academy, is running a series on the importance of languages in our society. Join the language festival on the campaign website: www.theguardian.com/education/series/the-case-for-language-learning

Dr Lid King in debate with Baroness Blackstone

Dr Lid King, Director of the Languages Company, was invited to attend the ‘No Island Is An Island’ Conference, hosted by the European Commission in London on 18 October 2013.

He and Baroness Blackstone, member of the House of Lords (UK upper chamber of Parliament) debated the merits of language learning.

The debate can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVXyCYFbsto&feature=youtu.be

New national curriculum for England announced

On 11 September 2013 the Secretary of State for Education published the new national curriculum framework following a series of public consultations. The majority of the new national curriculum will come into force from September 2014.

The big news is that languages will be compulsory in primary schools for the first time at Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11). Contrary to original proposals, put out for consultation earlier in the year, for an approved list of 7 languages (which included Latin and Ancient Greek), primary schools will now be free to teach any language at KS2.

Languages at secondary school remain compulsory only to KS3 (ages 11-14). The new KS3 curriculum refers to grammar, written texts (including literature and poetry) and translation.

The curriculum will be implemented in all maintained state schools in England (i.e. not private schools or state-funded academies or free schools, all of which have freedoms to devise their own curricula). In practice most primary schools are maintained schools whereas an increasingly large proportion of secondary schools are not.

The new national curriculum framework is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum

2013 GCSE Results

Languages show a dramatic rise in number of entries

The Joint Council for Qualifications released the following statement today (22/08/13):

Following years of decline, this year’s results show a dramatic rise in the number of entries for GCSE languages. Entries for traditional languages (French, German, Spanish) are up 16.9 per cent compared with last year (French up 15.5 per cent; German up 9.4 per cent; Spanish up 25.8 per cent). Of the three, only Spanish increased last year. French remains the most popular language taken by students with 177,288 entries.

Other modern languages rose by 5.1 per cent compared with a rise of 13.7 per cent in 2012. The most popular other modern languages are: Italian 5,136 entries; Urdu 4,519 entries; Polish 3,933 entries; Arabic 3,607 entries; and Chinese 3,042 entries.

You can read the full JCQ press release here

Ofqual to investigate variations in the number of A* and A grades

The Telegraph reports:

Ofqual is to launch an investigation into “variations” in the number of A* and A grades awarded in traditional sixth-form exams, it was revealed.

In a report, the regular said the proportion of top marks differed significantly between subjects each year.

It raised particularly concerns over modern foreign languages such as French, German and Spanish, with warnings that examiners award “relatively few” elite A*s compared with other disciplines.

Over the next year, the watchdog will evaluate the way subjects are graded “so that standards are as comparable and consistent as possible”, it emerged.

It is believed that the proportion of good marks will fail to rise for the second year running following a Government crackdown on “grade inflation”. In 2012, some 26.6 per cent of papers were awarded at least an A compared with 27 per cent a year earlier.

But Ofqual suggested that students’ chances of securing top grades depended on their choice of subject.

According to figures, 28.6 per cent of further maths papers were graded A* last year, while the number stood at 17.4 per cent for maths, 13.1 per cent for art and design, 10.7 per cent in the classics and 9.9 per cent in physics.

However, the proportion was as low as 2.4 per cent in ICT, 3.3 per cent in business studies, 3.7 per cent in drama, 6.3 per cent in geography and 6.8 per cent in English.

Only 6.8 per cent of French exams and 7.9 per cent of German papers gained A* despite the fact that languages are normally the preserve of the brightest pupils.

The Government has already outlined plans to overhaul A-levels with tougher questions and a greater focus on end-of-course exams.

Ofqual said it did not plan to “recalibrate” A-level standards when new courses are introduced in subjects such as English, science, maths, history and geography in 2015.

But Ofqual added: “There are two features of performance standards at present that we plan to address.

“First, relatively few A* grades are awarded in modern foreign languages when compared with other subjects with a high proportion of A grades. Secondly, there are variations in the proportion of A* to A grades awarded at A level each year in subjects.

“We plan to evaluate both of these features and to make improvements so that standards are as comparable and consistent as possible.”

The corporate plan – outlining Ofqual’s priorities over the next three years – also suggested that pupils were sitting too many exams, saying that it wanted to develop approaches to education “that do not assume that everything that should be taught should be assessed and contribute to the student’s grade for the subject”.

It also announced plans for a national sampling test for 16-year-olds that will be used to benchmark the difficulty level of future GCSE exams.

LINK DELETED: http://ofqual.gov.uk/news/ofqual-sets-out-plans-to-drive-qualification-improvement/

LINK DELETED: http://ofqual.gov.uk/files/2013-08-09-corporate-plan-2013-16.pdf

http://mediapoint.press.net/article.jsp?id=9399164

http://gu.com/p/3t547

A Level Results 2013

A breakdown of the latest results revealed a big increase in the numbers taking maths and science subjects. The take-up of languages on the other hand, continues to decline. Although Spanish increased by 4.1 per cent, entries for French and German declined by 9.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively.

This year science accounted 17.8 per cent of all subject entries – compared with 17 per cent last year. In maths and further maths, the figure went up from 11.5 per cent to 12 per cent.

The Telegraph and the Independent both led with articles on the disappointing take-up of languages:

www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10245143/A-level-results-2013-foreign-language-courses-in-freefall.html

www.independent.co.uk/student/news/alevel-results-2013-number-of-pupils-scoring-top-grades-drops-for-second-year-running-8762584.html

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/18/britain-nation-solitary-monoglots-languages

 

LUCIDE – Multilingual Cities Project

Check out the latest news on multilingualism in urban spaces on the LUCIDE website www.urbanlanguages.eu and sign up to the ebulletin or get involved in our workshops and seminars.

Consultation on reformed GCSEs launched 11 June 2013

The subject content and assessment objectives for new GCSEs in Modern Foreign Languages and Ancient Languages were published on 11th June. These are the criteria that Ofqual will use to regulate and which the awarding organisations will use to create exam specifications. So they are the proposed basis for the specification that schools will finally receive.

Content for Languages GCSEs is being issued now, while the timetable for first teaching remains September 2016, with first examining in 2018.

The Government wishes young people to have access to qualifications which match and exceed those of the highest performing jurisdictions and the Department is now seeking views on the proposed subject content and assessment objectives for these new GCSEs. Proposed subject content for reformed GCSEs in English language, English literature, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, combined science (double award), history, geography, modern languages and ancient languages, as well as the Reformed GCSE Subject Content Consultation document are available here on the Department’s website. The consultation will run from 11 June until 22 August.

In parallel with this consultation Ofqual are consulting on the revised regulatory requirements for the reformed GCSEs. The Ofqual consultation will be available here.

TALES FROM THE TOWER OF BABEL: MULTI-LINGUAL FILM-MAKING IN EUROPE IN THE EARLY 1930s

Venue: Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU
Date: 12 July 2013
Time: 7pm
With the arrival of talking pictures in the late 1920s, film industries in Europe and America faced a new dilemma. Silent films had spread easily round the world, needing only the simple exchange of one title card for another in a different language to be fitted for foreign export. But how could companies hold onto their foreign markets once characters in their films started talking? Primitive soundtrack dubbing was tried, also subtitling, but the method that took hold, if briefly, was multi-lingual production, with the same film issued in different language versions. Britain set the ball rolling in the summer of 1929 with Atlantic, made in English and German. Greta Garbo in Hollywood made her talkie debut in English and German versions of Anna Christie. Marlene Dietrich, in The Blue Angel, did the same at Ufa’s Neubabelsberg studio outside Berlin. Neubabelsberg was the world’s bastion of multi-lingual production in the early 1930s, with troops of actors, German, English and French, following each other onto the same sets in numerous musical comedies and dramas, including the popular Congress Dances and the futuristic spectacle F.P.1.
Film historian and music critic Geoff Brown will examine the joys and headaches of multi-lingual filming and cross-cultural exchange, with the emphasis on Britain’s participation in Ufa’s output during the turbulent last months of the Weimar Republic, just before Hitler came to power in 1933. The technical problems, the culture clashes, the political ramifications, the drama of an elderly British character actor found on the pavement bleeding from his head: all will be revealed in a presentation combining film clips, images, and documentary evidence.
For more information contact: Angelique.Petrits@ec.europa.eu