What would language learning YouTube have been like in 1580? Was Queen Elizabeth I really a polyglot? Who was teaching and learning languages in 1600s London? Early Modern historian John Gallagher and Cate talk about what it was like learning languages in England at a time when English was a marginal language that was not very useful past Dover. Have English tourists always been terrible at learning languages or is that a more recent stereotype? Did young men learn how to order 'two beers' before their Grand Tour?
There’s regularly talk of ‘correct’ or ‘standard’ language in the media and on Twitter. Some people apparently wear their bad grammar like a badge of honour or refuse to learn the 'correct' way of speaking because, the critics say, it makes them look cooler or ‘down with the kids’. And don’t even ask about glottal stops! In the second part of our discussion, Ian Cushing and I look at what 'standard English' is, and why we should question policies that insist upon it being spoken (in full sentences) at all times. And why does grammar get people heckling each other? Read the blog on www.thelanguagerevolution.co.uk to find the links mentioned.
Let's talk about the G-word: grammar. It’s a bit of a Marmite subject. People seem to love it or hate it, and for some it is a trigger word. There is often a conflation of linguistics with the ‘naming of parts’ and subjects, verbs and objects. Grammar can be a real bone of contention in education too, and even cause ripples in politics. To untangle the issue of grammar teaching in school, I spoke to Dr Ian Cushing from Brunel University in London about where we are now with grammar education, and where we might want to aim for next.
We don't often understand the process of learning to talk until we need speech and language therapy. It’s something parents have little information about. We hear a lot about sleeping, eating, and walking, but talking is a bit of a mystery subject. That is, until it goes wrong. Parents might then seek advice from a speech and language therapist like my podcast guest, Weronika Ozpolat. And if your child has more than one language? It's good to find a speech pathologist who understands how bilingualism works, and how different cultures teach children to speak in different ways. Read the accompanying blog at www.thelanguagerevolution.co.uk.
The term 'EAL' gets more airtime in educational circles these days because our world is becoming more super diverse. This means that our schools have more children who are learning English. But does 'EAL', which is short for 'English as an Additional Language', simply mean a child doesn't speak English yet? Actually, it is much more nuanced and complicated than that. In the second part of my conversation with EAL specialist Eowyn Crisfield, we talk about how parents and schools can work together to support multilingual learners. Read the blog with links here. Keywords: home languages, translanguaging, multilingual learners, teacher training.
There's a wealth of information on the Internet about bilingual education and raising bilingual kids. But for parents or teachers navigating their way through an online search, it often feels overwhelming. Facts can get taken out of context, and statistics from research are quoted as if they are set in stone. However, the science of bilingualism is relatively young and ever-evolving. In Episode 20 I talk to Eowyn Crisfield in detail about what parents need to know in order to steer their family through the rocky waters of bilingual education. This is part one of a two-part series. Part two looks at EAL education in schools, so this episode is a good foundation for teachers too.
Over the last decade, more than ten universities in the UK have closed their modern languages departments, and there is a steep decline in the uptake of languages at GCSE, A Level and at university. Are we too late to reverse this trend? How can we empower teachers to feel confident about teaching languages, and enthuse pupils to love learning languages from an early age? Cate talks to Sascha Stollhans, who teaches German at the University of Lancaster and works closely with schools through their outreach programme and the Linguistics in MFL project, about how linguistics might be the key to the sustainable future of language education, and how we can join up our thinking to save languages at university.
How are trolling, trust and language education linked? What have Shakespeare, Dickens and French classes got to do with GDPR or Trump's tweets? In part two of our discussion, Dr Yin Yin Lu and I talk about the dark side of communicating on social media, whether we can trust current regulation processes (such as GDPR), and how language education is the key to feeling less manipulated and more in control of the way we consume and create our experience of talking to each other online. Read the accompanying blog here.
There's no denying that communication has rapidly changed in the last thirty years, but are we humans keeping up with technology that we are creating? Social media platforms give us many new contexts in which to create and consume communication. How has the way we talk and behave changed since the invention of the internet? Cate talks to Dr Yin Yin Lu, 'doctor of the internet', about rhetoric, talking, and communication in the 21st century. Is it time for a communication revolution?
How can we help our students take the imaginative leap into a new culture and place, and get them excited about learning through the target language? What can we do to create a culturally meaningful, fairer, more purposeful, and less contrived MFL curriculum in the UK? Would these ideas also help students learn the target languages or just make teaching more difficult? In the second part of our conversation, Cate and MflTransform discuss what we could and perhaps should be including in the languages curriculum.