In defence of GCSE and A-level in community languages

The LAGB has asked its Education Committee to comment on the report that the two exam boards which currently offer GCSE and A-level exams in minority languages are planning to stop examining some of them. This page is a collecting point for information to inform the discussion.

  • A briefing on the facts, plus arguments for maintaining these exams, by Speak to the Future.
  • A first draft of an LAGB comment:
    • The Linguistics Association of Great Britain strongly supports the campaign by Speak to the Future in defence of formal exams (at GCSE and A level) on community languages, and welcomes the recent statements by both the Conservative and Labour parties committing a future government to protect these exams. The existing GCSE and A-level exams in community languages help to raise their status and to give children credit for learning their heritage language to a high level. The decision by some exam boards to stop offering many of these exams is a step in the wrong direction. These community languages are a vital national resource, and especially so given the dwindling numbers of traditional students of foreign languages. They are too important to leave to the market forces that drive the exam boards.
  • Research evidence on… PLEASE HELP here
    • how public exams encourage second- and third-generation children to maintain their heritage languages:
    • how formal study of a home language affects cognition:
    • how formal study of a home language affects English competence:

One Response to Community-language exams

  1. There has been some research in Manchester on the uptake of GCSEs in community languages and there is a suggestion that having a public exam gives validity to the studying of a community language (especially as most bilingual children speak English for the majority of the time): http://mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/reports/schools-and-public-services/ – the “Schools and Multilingualism in Manchester” report.
    The business reports on http://mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/reports/businesses/ suggest strongly that Manchester’s economy is to an extent dependent on having a large number of bi(multi)-lingual workers as a result of having a diverse population who speak their original language(s) alongside English.
    I’m sure you are aware of research about the cognitive benefits of bi- and multilingualism (which is perhaps too general for this), but it still makes the case that cognition in children (and adults) is improved as a result of learning a second language: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/cep/65/4/229/
    and finally, again you probably are aware of this, but the British Academy has published research into the detrimental impact of the lack of foreign language provision in UK schools: http://www.britac.ac.uk/policy/language-matters/position-paper.cfm
    Unfortunately, I do not know of more precise research into the bullets. Perhaps we can make an argument that more research is needed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *