Language learning: how to make it more efficient and democratic?

July 29, 2016

A presentation examining propedeutical approaches to language learning, and more particularly the UK programme, “Springboard to Languages”:  Perspectives of Language Communication in the EU, 28th — 29th July 2016, Nitra, Slovakia. Dr Seán Ó Riain, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dublin.

The approaches to improving language learning are legion, but there is general agreement that the situation is problematic.  The latest Eurobarometer survey, published in 2012, showed that from 2005 to 2011 throughout the EU countries the percentage of those claiming to speak a foreign language dropped from 56% to 54%, while those claiming to speak a second foreign language declined from 28% to 25%.  The results were based on self-assessment.  For a more objective assessment, we may look to the SurveyLang results of 2012.  The significant fact was that language testing was conducted only up to the B2 level.  No tests were conducted at C1 or C2 level, as it was considered that those who achieve the C1 level, even in their first foreign language, constitute a tiny and statistically insignificant minority, of the order of 1%.  Proposals to improve language-learning are therefore relevant to the vast majority of citizens throughout Europe, and particularly to those at school.   Results achieved to date are not satisfactory, so it is worthwhile to consider and test alternatives.  This presentation will look at the propedeutical approach to language learning, and more particularly the very interesting UK programme, “Springboard to Languages”.