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Language education is the teaching and learning of a language or languages, usually as foreign languages.

Language education in Europe

Language study holidays

An Increasing number of language students are now combining holidays with language study in the native country. German Based business Lisa Reisen has now branched out worldwide offering language study trips to all ages, levels and nationalities. The UK branch Lisa Travel [1] are on a mission to help the failing grades of Language students in UK schools by offering students the chance to learn in the native country. This will enable the student to experience the culture and tuition of the local people by taking them out their normal school environment and combine learning with a holiday abroad.

Language study holidays are popular across Europe with thousands traveling to England alone to learn English. Great Yarmouth ESL school Frisby's Home of English [2] recently reported in the "Language Tuition Today" white papers that "ESL students attending their School have more than doubled over the past year and have returned home with excellent pass rates." "This is in contrast to the decline of GCSE language grades in UK schools, the mentality seems to be different between English Students and their European counterparts and should be addressed to help promote language study."

With the introduction of the Euro and cross country business transactions it is now important to have multiple languages at your disposal. This is also evident in business outsourcing their departments to Eastern Europe.

Foreign language education

In 1995 the European Commission’s White Paper "Teaching and learning – Towards the learning society", stated that "upon completing initial training, everyone should be proficient in two Community foreign languages". The Lisbon Summit of 2000 defined languages as one of the five key skills.

In fact, even in 1974, at least one foreign language was compulsory in all but two European countries (Ireland and the United Kingdom apart from Scotland). By 1998 nearly all pupils in Europe studied at least one foreign language as part of their compulsory education, the only exception being Ireland, where primary and secondary schoolchildren learn both Irish and English, but neither is considered a foreign language. Pupils in upper secondary education learn at least two foreign languages in Belgium's Flemish Community, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia and Slovakia.

On average in Europe, at the start of foreign language teaching, learners have lessons for three to four hours a week. Compulsory lessons in a foreign language normally start at the end of primary school or the start of secondary school. In Luxembourg, Norway and Malta, however, the first foreign language is learnt at age six, and in Belgium's Flemish Community at age 10. Half of the EU's primary school pupils learn a foreign language, on average.

English is the language taught most often at lower secondary level in the EU. 93% of children there learn English. At upper secondary level, English is even more widely taught.

French is taught at lower secondary level in all EU countries except Slovenia. A total of 33% of European Union pupils learn French at this level. At upper secondary level the figure drops slightly to 28%.

German is taught in nearly all EU countries. A total of 13% of pupils in the European Union learn German in lower secondary education, and 20% learn it at an upper secondary level.

Despite the high rate of foreign language teaching in schools, the number of adults claiming to speak a foreign language is generally lower than might be expected. This is particularly true of native English speakers: in 2004 a British survey showed that only one in 10 UK workers could speak a foreign language. Less than 5% could count to 20 in a second language, for example. 80% said they could work abroad anyway, because "everyone speaks English." In 2001, a European Commission survey found that 65.9% of people in the UK spoke only their native tongue.

Since the 1990s, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has tried to standardize the learning of languages across Europe (one of the first results is UNIcert).

Bilingual education

See main article: Bilingual education

In some countries, learners have lessons taken entirely in a foreign language: for example, more than half of European countries with a minority or regional language community use partial immersion to teach both the minority and the state language.

In the 1960s and 1970s, some central and eastern European countries created a system of bilingual schools for well-performing pupils. Subjects other than languages were taught in a foreign language. In the 1990s this system was opened to all pupils in general education, although some countries still make candidates sit an entrance exam. At the same time, Belgium's French Community, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland also started bilingual schooling schemes. Germany meanwhile had established some bilingual schools in the late 1960s.

Language education in the United States

Most students start learning a foreign language in high school or late middle school. Students are often required to take on average two years of foreign language study in order to graduate. The most popular language students choose is Spanish, due to a real or perceived view that it is becoming a secondary language in the United States (see Spanish in the United States). Other popular languages are French, German, and Japanese. Latin used to be more common, but has fallen from favor somewhat. During the Cold War, the United States government pushed for Russian education, and some schools still maintain their Russian programs, namely Glastonbury High School[3]. Other languages recently gaining popularity are Chinese and Arabic.

Methods of teaching foreign languages

There are several methods in wide use:

  • Language Immersion puts students in a situation where they must use a foreign language, whether or not they know it. This creates fluency, but not accuracy of usage.
  • Tutoring by a native speaker is one of the best all-around methods. However it requires a motivated native tutor, which can be a rare, expensive commodity.
  • Directed practice has students repeat phrases. This method is used by U.S. diplomatic courses. It can quickly provide a "phrasebook" knowledge of the language. Within these limits, the students' usage is accurate and precise. However the student's choice of what to say is not flexible.
  • Absorptive language education (sometimes called the audiolingual method) has students listen to or view video tapes of language models acting in situations. Most instructors now acknowledge that this method is ineffective by itself.
  • Grammatic language education instructs students in grammar, and provides vocabulary to memorize. Most instructors now acknowledge that this method is ineffective by itself.
  • Communicative language teaching (CLT) is an approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language.
  • Eclectic methods combine the above into a single course of study. These are the most common.
  • Blended learning combines face-to-face teaching with interactive (and therefore frequently electronic) practice activity. This can be achieved through the adoption of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). VLEs have been a major growth point in the TEFL industry over the last 5 years. They are developed either as an externally-hosted platforms onto which content can be exported by a school or institution (examples being 'Worldwide Web Course Tools, WebCT' or the 'Blackboard' VLE) or as content-supplied, course-managed learning platforms (an example being the 'Macmillan English Campus'). The key difference is that the latter is able to support course-building by the language school. This means that teachers can blend their existing courses with games, activities, listening exercises and grammar reference units that are contained online. This has applications in the classroom and as self-study or remote practice (for example in an internet café).

Acronyms and abbreviations

See also: English as an additional language for information on language teaching acronyms and abbreviations which are specific to English.

See also

External links

es:Enseñanza de idiomas fr:Enseignement des langues étrangères ru:Иностранный язык в школе zh:語言教育

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