Moodle Blog

Why I’m glad I learned languages

As language teachers in the UK we’ve all been there – trying to find convincing reasons to persuade our year 9s to take our subject, sourcing posters for classroom walls promoting the benefits of studying a language, pouncing on every foreign language speaking “cool” celebrity who gets a two minute clip on youtube (Bradley Wiggins – I’m so grateful to you – and Gary Lineker, you too!) It’s difficult when you live in a country where the mother tongue(or an American variant of it) is arguably the most highly coveted language in the world. I clearly remember a few years ago the first week of term, first lesson with a top set, very bright Year 9 class.They walked into the room for their first German lesson which I had prepared to include fun, games, lots of cognates, colourful freebies from the Goethe Institute – and one of them said, before he even sat down “Why do we have to learn German?”

When I learned German (and French) 40 years ago I don’t recall anyone complaining about it; we just accepted it was another subject that we had to do. And mine wasn’t some fancy grammar school; it was a regular state comprehensive in a working class area just outside Birmingham. For myself I was  motivated because I liked the structure of it, and the fact that, as a shy person, I could in effect “hide” behind another language. I am not shy when I go to France or Germany 🙂 I never gave any thought to how useful it might be in a future career  or how good it would look on my CV – which is what we try to drive home to students today. When I did my degree in French again I opted for a 100% literature based course, to the extent that I have read far more literature in French than in English – again, with no thoughts to a subsequent career. Then for various reasons I fell into language teaching -with no regrets at all. When a few  years ago I started to work with Moodle, my language classes became fewer and I wondered if I would lose the skill.

But then – as my Moodle work has increased, so has my use of French and German and the opportunities offered from being able to cope acceptably well in those languages. I realised that I could help struggling Moodlers not only in the main Moodle forums but also in the French and latterly in the German speaking ones; last year I got to do some training in Switzerland in French – because they needed a French speaking Moodler .I was  also asked to be part of a team making Moodle video tutorials in French – because I knew both Moodle and French.  I’d love to get an invite to the French Moodle Moot in June  and meet French Moodlers. Last week, I was delighted to be a part of the German Moodle Moot in Munich where I determinedly did my presentation in German and learned about Moodle experiences in German speaking countries. And as I was sitting in one of the presentations it suddenly dawned on me: if I hadn’t persevered with French and German at school, none of this would be available to me! I  would probably still be doing Moodle, but it would be only a third of what is offered now. According to my pupils “every body speaks English”. Actually, they don’t! And even if many of them do, they appreciate it much more if they can use the language they are more comfortable with. When I start full time as a Moodler in April I can actually help people three times as much as if I only spoke English.

So yes, studying a language other than English DOES benefit your career – it’s taken me 40 years to realise that; I do hope my pupils work it out sooner 🙂 🙂

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Tuesday, 05. March 2013 um 17:28 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Moodle abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen. Du hast die Möglichkeit einen Kommentar zu hinterlassen, oder einen Trackback von deinem Weblog zu senden.

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1 Comment »

  1. Whereas I’m glad I learned a language because it means I can read comic books about horrific things happening to teenagers in a far-future dystopia, or a 30+ volume series of novels about not very much happening between teenage girls in a private school, or even the occasional comic book with characters who aren’t teenagers…

    Moral of this story: if you want to help communicate with others and make the world a better place, learn European languages! (Or languages commonly used in countries nearish where you live.) But if you want to read weird pop culture sh** and you are a horrible person who never intends to talk to anyone, learn Japanese. I’m not sure which is a better selling point for potential language students… 🙂

    –sam

    Comment: sam – 08. March 2013 @ 12:00 am

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