the Scottish Government's decision to introduce the study of two foreign languages into our primary schools is laudable but hoping that this alone may eventually result in an improved secondary languages uptake is being over-optimistic ("Radical action needed to tackle languages deficit", The Herald, May 18).
Much more needs to be done.
The position of foreign language teaching in Scotland compared with European countries is unimpressive with only half of secondary pupils opting for the study of any language and the uptake of all European languages declining annually at 4%. Furthermore, successfully competing for trade with the burgeoning new economies will require extra provision being made for the teaching of less familiar tongues like those of China, Russia, Brazil and India. This has extensive resource implications.
That pupils perceive languages to be difficult and avoided if possible away may arise from the very mechanics of languages study and it is perhaps significant that the decline in pupil interest has coincided with the demise in the rigorous teaching of English grammar.
It must be difficult for pupils to grasp the technical aspects of foreign tongues when they have a limited appreciation of those of their own, including the function and role of words in sentences.
Like phonics in the teaching of reading, the parsing of individual words in English went out of fashion some time ago but, as with phonics, some reversion to it and a much improved teaching of English grammar, generally, might greatly help in turning the situation around.
Dr Walter J MacCulloch,
1 Causewayend Crescent,
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