1st Edition

Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages A History of Language Education, Assessment and Policy in Britain

By Nicola McLelland Copyright 2017
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    276 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages provides a comprehensive history of language teaching and learning in the UK from its earliest beginnings to the year 2000. McLelland offers the first history of the social context of foreign language education in Britain, as well as an overview of changing approaches, methods and techniques in language teaching and learning. The important impact of classroom-external factors on developments in language teaching and learning is also taken into account, particularly regarding the policies and public examination requirements of the 20th century.

    Beginning with a chronological overview of language teaching and learning in Britain, McLelland explores which languages were learned when, why and by whom, before examining the social history of language teaching and learning in greater detail, addressing topics including the status that language learning and teaching have held in society. McLelland also provides a history of how languages have been taught, contrasting historical developments with current orthodoxies of language teaching. Experiences outside school are discussed with reference to examples from adult education, teach-yourself courses and military language learning.

    Providing an accessible, authoritative history of language education in Britain, Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages will appeal to academics and postgraduate students engaged in the history of education and language learning across the world. The book will also be of interest to teacher educators, trainee and practising teachers, policymakers and curriculum developers.

    1. Introduction *

    2. Which languages do English-speakers want to learn? Answers from history *

    2.1 Introduction *

    2.2 French – the first foreign language *

    2.3 Italian – a language of refinement? *

    2.4 Spanish – from fourth to third to second *

    2.5 Dutch – a surprising fourth *

    2.6 Portuguese – England takes a lead in Europe *

    2.7 English as a Foreign or Second Language *

    2.8 German – a late start but a strong finish, until 2001 *

    2.9 Russian – mixed fortunes *

    2.10 From languages of empire to "community languages" *

    2.11 Chinese – changing status *

    2.12 The Language "Charts" – Changes, Comparisons and Conclusions *

    2.13 Further Reading *

    3. A sociocultural history of language learning: why, who, where? *

    3.1 Reasons for learning languages before compulsory schooling *

    3.1.1 Language learning for trade and commerce *

    3.1.2 Religion and language learning *

    3.1.3 Military language learning *

    3.1.4 Language learning for social prestige and leisured cultural enrichment *

    3.1.5 Academic value and the birth of a school subject *

    3.2 Learners: who could or should learn a language? *

    3.2.1 Social class and language learners: language as an elite accomplishment or languages for employability? *

    3.2.2 Gender in language learning and teaching *

    3.2.3 Adult language learners *

    3.3 The educational infrastructure of language learning – institutionalization, professionalization, and learning beyond the classroom *

    3.2.1 Native speakers or non-native speakers? *

    3.2.2 The professionalization of teachers, and the question of qualifications *

    3.2.3 Languages as a discipline in higher education *

    3.3.4 Language learning beyond the schoolroom: visits and residence abroad, and pen-friendships *

    3.5 Conclusion: Languages for all? *

    3.6 Further reading *


    4. How languages have been taught and learned *

    4.1. Introduction *

    4.2 Language learning up to around 1600 *

    4.3The first foreign-language grammars and "full" textbooks (1600-1750) *

    4.4 Language teaching 1750-1800: The ‘practical grammar’ and exercises *

    4.5 The nineteenth century: grammar and translation, and patented methods – but not "the" grammar-translation method *

    4.6 The Reform Movement and beyond: Reactions against nineteenth-century school language teaching *

    4.7 The scientific period I ( ca. 1920-1970): the industrialization of language teaching and the goal of "automatic" knowledge *

    4.7.1 Excursus: Technology and language teaching innovations, 1500-present *

    4.7.2 Scientific descriptions of language and of language learning as the basis for teaching methods: basic vocabulary, behaviourism and contrastive analysis *

    4.8 The scientific period II: 1965-2000 and beyond: the communicative period and the four skills *

    4.8.1 The four communicative skills *

    4.9 The old alongside the new *

    4.10 Cultural knowledge *

    4.11 Conclusion *



    5. Assessment *

    5.1 Introduction *

    5.1.1 Who tests, how, and for whom? *

    5.1.2 Validity, reliability, and comparability *

    5.2 Test constructs, or what to measure *

    5.2.1 Translation into the target language (often known as "prose composition"). *

    5.2.2 Translation from the target language into English *

    5.2.4 Grammatical knowledge *

    5.2.5 Dictation *

    5.3 The four skills *

    5.3.1 Assessing reading comprehension *

    5.3.2 Assessing speaking *

    5.3.3 Assessing writing *

    5.3.4 Assessing listening comprehension *

    5.4 Non-language knowledge and skills *

    5.5 Specifying levels of attainment *

    5.6 Conclusions *

    5.7 150 years of examinations *

    6. Making the case for languages: A history of advocacy and policy *

    6.1 Introduction *

    6.2 Who sets the agenda? A brief history of actors in languages education advocacy and policy *

    6.3 Changes in policy direction: which languages, how many languages, when? *

    6.3.1 Languages for all? *

    6.3.2 How many languages should pupils learn? *

    6.3.3 When to start? *

    6.3.4 Which languages? The case of Spanish advocacy and Spanish growth – cause and effect? *

    6.4 Changing values, changing legitimacies: making the case of languages from the Leathes Report (1918) to the National Languages Strategy (2002) *

    6.5 Conclusion: Modern languages advocacy and policy-making *

    6.6 Chronological bibliography of reports and policy documents in modern languages education, 1890-2015 *

    7. Conclusions – Applying lessons from the past to the present and future 217

    7.1 Why do we teach languages? 217

    7.2 What determines choices about which languages to learn? 220

    7.3 Are English speakers a special case when it comes to language learning? 221

    7.4 What is the right kind of learner, the right kind of teacher? 223

    7.5 What affects what goes on in the languages classroom? 224

    7.6 How do we measure language learning success? 225

    7.7 Outlook 226


    Nicola McLelland is Professor in German and History of Linguistics at the University of Nottingham and Editor of the journal Language & History. Her interests span the history of linguistics, sociolinguistics (past and present), and the history of language learning and teaching.

    ‘This is the book I've been waiting for. Building on the author's previous scholarship, this volume is an important contribution to the under-researched field of the history of language education in the UK. Much more than 'just' a history, this is a rich and insightful account of issues still very alive today, from assessment to arguments about effective pedagogy, and breaks new ground in its astute narrative of language advocacy. McLelland succeeds in being both erudite and highly enjoyable to read; the book is full of delightful gems as well as providing a valuable and comprehensive source of references to aid other researchers in the field.’ - Simon Coffey, Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages Education, King's College London

    ‘Nicola McLelland’s new book is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in reading about or studying the history of language learning and teaching in Britain. It is packed with concise information on a wide range of languages, periods, contexts, and topics, some of which have not received much attention so far. Thus it provides a fascinating comprehensive overview and will without doubt stimulate further historical research.’ - Friederike Klippel, Chair of TEFL (until 2015), Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany

    ‘Congratulations to Nicola McLelland on this important accomplishment! Her book will be of great interest to foreign language scholars and professionals in Britain. More important, perhaps, is that Professor McLelland has provided an excellent model for how to craft similar histories of foreign language education in other national contexts and indeed from transnational perspectives. Language specialists have written their own, more limited histories of the profession, typically focusing on how languages have been taught. Professor McLelland’s book provides a much richer perspective by tracing which languages have been taught in Britain and why, the changing social contexts in which they have been taught, a nascent history of language assessment, and an engaging historical perspective on language education policy advocacy. In addition to its analytical breadth, the book expands its historical perspective beyond the nineteenth century. This allows Professor McLelland to draw more compelling conclusions about the nature of foreign language education and the challenges facing scholars, professionals, and students of it.’ - Jeff Bale, Associate Professor of Language and Literacies Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

    "What sets this ambitious work apart from others is that it is an extremely concise, comprehensive, and scholarly overview. It will serve as a valuable addition to any library and it will be of interest to foreign language professionals, academics, and, indeed policy-makers." - Charlotte VT Murakami, History of Education