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Language Learning in a Globalised World Professor Michael Worton, UCL.

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1 Language Learning in a Globalised World Professor Michael Worton, UCL

2 Context Students are increasingly keen to travel the world before or after university… …and 75% of the world’s population DOESN’T speak English Degrees with language options are found in every discipline… …and universities are increasingly encouraging students to study abroad French and German are definitely not the only options… …but even if that’s where you start, having one language makes it easier to learn others Language skills are an advantage in the global job market… …as much for what they say about a person as for their ability to communicate in another language

3 Context MFL made optional for students after 14 in 2004 Recognition that compulsion was not in the best interests of de-motivated students Government move towards ‘personalised learning’

4 Context National Languages Strategy introduced in 2002 Support to introduce languages into primary schools (for 7-11 year olds) Support for curriculum development for 11-18 Introduction of the Languages Ladder – a new approach to assessment By 2008, UK Government had invested £135m in languages education in England and Wales

5 Context Languages will be compulsory in primary schools after the next curriculum review (currently underway for introduction in 2011) 50-90% of students ‘expected’ to learn a language to 16 Government definition of ‘classroom’ languages widened to include community and heritage languages Languages Ladder and associated qualifications (Asset Languages) starting to have a real impact

6 Modern Foreign Languages: UCL’s position Entry requirements from 2012 Students should either: or Applies only to students seeking admission as home students Students whose first language is not English can offer a GCSE both in their mother tongue and in English as alternative to an MFL offer a language at GCSE Grade C or above on entry be willing to undertake language study as part of their degree programme

7 Why an entry requirement? This decision should be understood in the context of three key priorities for UCL: Commitment to the principle of ‘education for global citizenship’ and the value we place on attracting students with an awareness of their place in the wider world Our desire to show leadership on issues of importance for UK education Our responsibility to our graduates to ensure they have the skills necessary to ensure enhanced career prospects in a global economy

8 Why have we taken this step? Necessary that one university should be the first to make such a change – and appropriate that UCL should be that university Aligning ourselves closely with developments in Europe – particularly the Lisbon agenda Decision reflects our understanding of our own character as an institution and the kind of student we wish to attract: forward-looking, globally-aware, engaged

9 Why should this be introduced across the board? Languages should be regarded as a general pre-requisite for a university education – particularly in a university committed to ‘global citizenship’ Language study prioritises the acquisition of skills (ability to listen well, to read unfamiliar text for sense, to communicate in unfamiliar contexts) which are relevant in all disciplines UCL has made it a strategic priority to increase the numbers of students spending some part of their degree course abroad The change will help us to attract students keen to embrace international opportunities – and provide an impetus for curriculum development in order to reflect the interests of these students and to mark UCL out as a global institution Helps us to fulfil our responsibility to ensure our students are equipped with the skills necessary for their future careers

10 Impact on Widening Participation Although we should be aware of possible negative implications for the widening participation cohort, we should not automatically assume the worst: 2004: Languages made optional for all post-14 2006: All schools required to ensure AT LEAST 50% of students study a language to GCSE BUT It is reasonable to assume that schools will encourage the top 50% of each year group to continue with MFL to GCSE We do not therefore expect to see a significant reduction in the numbers of students applying to us with a GCSE in a modern foreign language

11 Impact on Widening Participation Government is investing heavily in primary languages teaching From 2010, every child in England and Wales will be entitled to study a language from age 7 Languages will be a compulsory part of the curriculum for all 7-14 year olds from 2011 Long-term (2014+), we should expect all students to be entering secondary school with a significant grounding in a modern language The timetable coincides with UCL’s for the introduction of an MFL requirement Any reduction is likely to be temporary

12 UCL Language Centre 4,000 Enrolments in 2008-09 1,300 students following a course-unit in a foreign language. Most popular languages: Spanish (345); French (327); Italian (122); Mandarin (100) Over 1,000 students following an evening course (the main European languages, but also Arabic, Icelandic, Japanese, etc) Translation Skills in French, German and Spanish Academic Reading courses in French and Spanish (for Historians, Art Historians, etc) Preparatory classes in Language and Culture for students going to study abroad MA in Film Studies / Film Clubs English for Academic Purposes

13 Education for Global Citizenship Critical and creative thinker Ambitious – but also idealistic and committed to ethical behaviour Able to recognise and value cultural difference Entrepreneur with the ability to innovate Willing to assume leadership roles Highly employable and ready to embrace professional mobility

14 Getting the message across Reconceptualise language learning in the classroom Not just about learning French and German Make lesson content fit the students, rather than the syllabus Not just learning a language, but changing the way you think Fluency is not necessarily the goal One language is just the start…

15 Getting the message across Languages are in demand: by employers and by universities Languages prepare you for the challenges of being a citizen of the world Languages increase options at university: study abroad, degree courses, choice of specialisms Languages are skills as well as ‘subjects’ Languages are relevant in all disciplines and in all job sectors Languages are for anyone interested in culture, communication, travel, people

16 More arguments? Languages Work: factsheets, presentations, arguments Why study languages post-14? 700 reasons to study languages

17 The outlook Still too early to say how the changes will impact on take- up of languages at university Can expect a temporary falling-off at all levels until primary language learning is well-established Cautious optimism about the linguists of the future and, more importantly, about the linguistic and inter-cultural skills of graduates UCL keen to establish language and intercultural skills as an integral part of the undergraduate ‘profile’

18 Professor Michael Worton Vice-Provost and Fielden Professor of French Language and Literature UCL

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