The Herald today - a few words of caution
There are a few things in today's Herald report concerning languages and new technology which are great. There are several things I am not happy about. Such is the journalist's lot when a story is to be had, and even when there is no story. Let me show you what I don't like and then please do leave comments after the post. I may not be able to reply as I have to be in France for a family bereavement (I'm writing this in the airport):
- Most 'typical' modern langauges lessons do not, these days, revolve around teacher and textbook. Some do, but most typical lessons are taught by vibrant teachers with a passion for learning and engaging their pupils, using interactive whiteboards, some using digital video, some already getting kids to create digital audio.
- There's nothing wrong with rigidly structured school exchanges. You're well off if you manage to keep that kind of collaboration going. Emma Seith's got the wrong end of the stick, when I told her about MGS's looser foreign collaborations that still worked. Just another way of doing things, not better.
- None of the new technologies I talk about it key in the engagement of learners. The teacher is. A good teacher without these tools will engage students. A poor teacher with these tools will still bore the kids rigid.
- Languages in Scotland are not in crisis. I even told her that explicitly, based on what we are told by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education.
Journalists do need good stories. I feel that Seith has missed the good story in here, or at least buried it in paragraph 11. New technologies do get students oozing enthusiasm for languages. But you cannot use them all the time - they'd end up being just as boring as textbooks. It's not the technology that's going to make the difference - it's the teacher.