British uni's fast-track French scheme under fire

21st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, March 21 (AFP) - Education campaigners in Britain on Monday condemned a new course allowing would-be French teachers to learn the language from scratch in just 13 weeks before being unleashed into classrooms.

LONDON, March 21 (AFP) - Education campaigners in Britain on Monday condemned a new course allowing would-be French teachers to learn the language from scratch in just 13 weeks before being unleashed into classrooms.

"It is utterly ridiculous," said Nick Seaton, chairman of traditionalist pressure group the Campaign for Real Education, calling the scheme "a sticking plaster solution to a massive shortage of language teachers".

The course is designed to counter the fact that all language teachers in British schools are expected to know and be able to teach French as well as another language, which puts off many aspiring educators.

The Teacher Training Agency at Hull University, northeast England, has launched a two-year pilot scheme, titled: "Voulez-vous parler francais? - then become a modern language teacher!"

Would-be linguists, many of whom cannot speak a word of French before the course, spend 13 weeks learning the language intensively, including a two-week residential spell in France.

They then receive a GBP 4,000 (EUR 5,700, USD 7,600) "golden handshake" when they are offered a full-time job.

So far 20 students have completed the first of the new courses, and the bulk are now teaching French to pupils aged between 11 and 18 in schools in northern England.

Course leader Kim Bower insisted it was proper preparation for the classroom.

"There's a lot of people who want to become language teachers but can't because they haven't got French. This course makes sure we don't waste their skills," she said.

"Students don't just go straight into the classroom. They are tested by language teachers and only teach when they are confident and comfortable enough to do so."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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