Modern methods of teaching are making learning a second language a positive experience for both student and teacher.
Is learning a second language of benefit to children? In the vast majority of cases it can only benefit them, says linguistic scholar and applied linguist Professor Peter Strevens from the University of Essex. The best way for children to learn it is to do so while learning another subject or skill,
Teaching other subjects in the language is pedagogically regarded as a good thing, and it certainly seems to be very effective.
Barriers children and young people encounter while learning a new language consist mainly of the attitude in the home, and how it is taught in school.
The Franciscan College Gormanston is one educational institution where modern teaching theory and methods have been wholly taken on board. A dedicated section of the modern languages curriculum is spent in the college's language laboratory,
The important thing is in these new methods that attention is directed at native speech.
It is not all about practising their pronunciation. Modern methods of learning a second language mean that students have far more confidence when speaking French, German or Irish than previously.
The audiovisual system used by teachers in Gormanston, where pupils listen to a conversation on a tape recorder accompanied by pictures shown to the class is a vast improvement on the purely book based learning of the past. According to one teacher,
He is able to say a certain amount in Irish with confidence that he is not saying something stupid. And because he has learned the thing in full sentences he can say it with fluency, and without hesitation.
Another teacher who has twenty years of experience is a firm advocate for this system. Having used it for the past three years, he has seen his students’ confidence grow in speaking the language, as well as being able to write it correctly,
The pupils have improved enormously.
As younger children are less self conscious about speaking a new language, it is a case of the earlier the better when starting them on that path says Professor Stevens, as
Children have a built in ability to acquire language.
This episode of 'Watch Your Language’ was broadcast on 10 March 1970. The reporter is Jim Sherwin.