Opinion Articles

Linguists and stakeholders comment on current issues relating to language and linguistics research.

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Joseph Ford and Emanuelle Santos

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28 Jun 2022

In the following opinion article, Joseph Ford and Emanuelle Santos give a short account of work being done with a view to ‘decolonise languages’ in UK Higher Education and pose some fundamental questions that are still absent from mainstream discussions on the topic.

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Oliver Hopwood

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17 Jul 2021

In this article, Oliver Hopwood, London-based languages teacher and Chair of the Independent Schools Modern Languages Association, supports moves to revamp MFL at GCSE. He calls on colleagues to engage in a long overdue conversation about how to develop a more engaging curriculum connecting language and culture.

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Charlotte Ryland

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12 May 2021

In this article, Charlotte Ryland, Director of the Translation Exchange at the University of Oxford, considers the value of creative translation in the context of the proposed changes to GCSE MFL qualifications in England. She proposes that the creative translation approach and engagement with a community of linguists can have positive consequences for pupil motivation.

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Charles Burdett

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10 May 2021

The article begins by considering the potential meanings of the phrase ‘Global Britain’ and considers the importance of communication within any international strategy. In this context, it foregrounds the necessity of joined-up thinking concerning the teaching of modern foreign languages. It looks at the implications of the proposed reforms to the subject content of GCSEs and argues that the formal consideration of culture needs to form part of the way in which the qualification is taught and assessed.

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Suzanne O’Farrell

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9 May 2021

In this article, Suzanne O’Farrell MFL Consultant for ASCL considers the proposed changes to the GCSE MFL qualifications in England from the perspective of school leaders. The article examines the background context, their implications and unintended consequences for schools,  teachers and pupils.

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Vincent Everett

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4 May 2021

In this article, Vincent Everett, Head of Languages at Northgate High School and Dereham Sixth Form College, shares his reflections on the proposed changes to the GCSE MFL qualifications in England. He welcomes the emphasis on phonics but raises questions about the set vocabulary lists and is concerned about how these proposals will function in  classrooms, and the impact on language learners.

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Richard Hudson

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2 May 2021

In this article, Richard Hudson, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at University College London and Fellow of the British Academy, discusses  the proposed changes to the GCSE MfL qualifications in England. He argues that grammatical and phonetic comparison can demystify difficult patterns and enhance learning and hopefully renew learner and teacher interest in the structure of languages in the language classroom.

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Michelle Sheehan, Alice Corr, Anna Havinga, Jonathan Kasstan, Norma Schifano and Sascha Stollhans

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25 Apr 2021

In this article, colleagues from the Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages Project consider the proposed changes to the GCSE MFL qualifications in England from the perspective of linguistics.  They identify several areas where engagement with key aspects of knowledge from the field of linguistics  may be useful in taking forward current proposals and in avoiding unintended consequences.

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Mark Sebba and Wendy Ayres-Bennett

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22 Apr 2021

In this article, Mark Sebba, Reader Emeritus of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University, and Wendy Ayres-Bennett, Professor of French Philology and Linguistics at the University of Cambridge, reflect on the inclusion of language questions in the 2021 Census in England. They discuss the shortcomings of the current approach and argue that new and better questions are needed to capture the true extent of  England’s multilingualism.

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Marc Debono

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11 Dec 2020

In this article, Marc Debono, Associate Professor in Language Sciences at the University of Tours, challenges us to consider the role of  academic linguistic experts in court, arguing that academic expertise on matters of language, while it can be useful in court, must not be allowed to encroach on judges’ freedom to make their own decisions,  which, he argues, is a democratic imperative.

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Andreas Krogull and Jeroen Darquennes

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8 Dec 2020

In this article, Andreas Krogull, Postdoctoral Researcher in Historical Sociolinguistics at the Leiden University, and Jeroen Darquennes, Professor of German and General Linguistics at the University of Namur,  issue a challenge to researchers of historical sociolinguistics to tackle research questions in ways that yield insights to inform contemporary real-world decision-making.

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Ian Collen

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27 May 2018

In this article, Ian Collen, Lecturer in Teacher Education at Queen’s University Belfast, looks at what Northern Ireland can learn from Ireland’s new languages strategy and also what Ireland can learn from recent initiatives in Northern Ireland.

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Sharon Jones

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22 May 2018

In this article, Sharon Jones, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies with Modern Languages and International Placement Coordinator at Stranmillis University College in Belfast reviews Ireland’s Languages Connect strategy in light of Initial Teacher Education and current foreign language learning policy across the border in Northern Ireland.

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Neil Kenny

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1 Feb 2018

In this article, Neil Kenny, Lead Fellow for Languages at the British  Academy, argues that the broadened notion of skill proposed by a new British Academy project, The Right Skills, provides a framework for articulating more accurately and effectively the full range of skills provided by language degrees.