March 16, 2007

Congres Frans begins

  Congres Frans begins 
  Originally uploaded by Edublogger.

The message is loud and clear: Holland's issues with language learning are more similar to Scotland and England's problems than we might think. The Dutch have a reputation as being language learners extraordinaire but there is still, says our opening speaker, too much emphasis on the Anglo-American in our 'Western World' (what is the West nowadays, anyway?)

It sounds as if, perhaps like at home, learners don't always see the point in learning French and other non-English languages. There is a lack of motivation to learn something which, in an age when school tends to value what is useful in a rather narrow way, is the first to go when put alongside the sciences, media and social studies. And in Holland, fewer and fewer are choosing French, despite it often being the language that makes the difference, the language that made Scotland great during the Enlightenment and continues to make a difference in the world of politics, decision-making and international affairs.

I'm happy with the opening speech since my talk this afternoon shows how languages are really at the centre of creativity and multimedia work, if we choose to make them so. But it's not good enough to have one or two individuals making strides to use multimedia, social media and other creative tools with their learners. It needs to be a united front, a global effort on the part of all language teachers, to make a dent in this world which, rightly or (probably more likely) wrongly, places too much value on English as a lingua franca.

That's where tomorrow's talk on how teachers can get themselves together will fit in. Using technology with learners is great, but it's seen as 'fun', motivating icing on the cake. Let's show them that social technology can unite those individual great teachers like nothing before, and amplify their practice.

Chapeau pour le français!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I can't resist sharing this anecdote about a Dutch language learner not quite so extraordinaire.

My step-grandfather emigrated from Holland to South Africa with is wife and three year old son in about 1933. When I met him about 50 years later, he claimed to be trilingual: fluent in English, Afrikaans as well as his native Dutch. The trouble was, no matter which of the three languages he claimed to be speaking, he sounded exactly the same. He seemed to have developed a way of speaking all three languages simultaneously. For example, he related to me - supposedly in English - the following information about his dog (reproduced more or less phonetically): "He ron opp an off opp an off an he bloff an he bloff an he bloff". Apparently, this meant "He (the dog was actually female!) runs up and down and up and down and barks and barks and barks". Thank goodness my soon-to-be-stepdad was on hand to translate!

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

Recent Posts