EAB News 2002-08-02: EAB NetNews Bulletin

EAB NetNews - August 2002

E A B N E T N E W S No 10 (2 Aug 2002)

*** Keeping you up-to-date about Esperanto, for people in the UK ***



A new language strategy document for language teaching in the UK is expected to be ready by early November. This was announced in the Lords on July 2 by Baroness Ashton of Upholland, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Education and Skills. Baroness Ashton is also chair of the Languages Strategy Group.

Replying to Lord Quirk, Baroness Ashton said, "I am interested in ensuring that we have a national languages strategy which is as applicable to a five year-old as it is to a 55 year-old in terms of providing the opportunity to learn one of many languages that students might wish to learn."

The issue had been raised by Lord Quirk, following the publication of a Green Paper on the topic (Government consultation document 14-19). In a rider, he suggested that we think of languages less as academic subjects than as practical skills. "Is there not an attractive analogy in learning a musical instrument?", he asked. "The Associated Board tests performance at various grades, each of which is admirable in its own right; the pupil may at his own pace take up more than one instrument; and the QCA provides guidelines whereby the music grades are related to GCSE and A-level". Baroness Ashton confirmed that they had been looking at just such a possibility."

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld199697/ldhansrd/ pdvn/lds02/text/20702-01.htm#20702-01_spnew0

In a previous exchange in the Lords, on 26 June, Baroness Ashton pointed out that within a short time it will be possible for a Spanish lesson to be taught by a teacher living in Spain. "Such technologies will help to address some of the issues with regard to teacher shortages", Baroness Ashton added.

"There is something about language teaching which enables young people to feel more confident about themselves", commented another contributer, Baroness Blatch. "It is not the same as the more traditional subjects that they expect to be taught in schools. There is a benefit."

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld199697/ldhansrd/ pdvn/lds02/text/20626-20.htm

Such a language strategy would mark a dramatic reversal in the current Government policy of placing restrictions on the languages to be offered in our schools. It could remove the current obstacles to teaching Esperanto leading to its reintroduction. Many Esperanto teachers feel that the confidence that Esperanto gives is important in its use as an introductory learning language, before tackling more difficult languages.


Despite a massive saving in training nurses for the National Health Service, by importing pre-trained nurses from abroad, little or no funding appears to be provided for essential language training for those whose first language is not English. As a result, a surgeon had to abandon an operation because the nurses did not understand his instructions in English. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2143680.stm He was immediately accused of racism.

Around half of the nurses entering the profession in the UK last year are said to be recruited from abroad. Last February there were reports of concerns in hospitals in the North West of England with regard to communication difficulties with Spanish nurses. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1845272.stm One agency charges just £1500 for each nurse trained in the Philipines. When recruited, they receive little or no language training.

The emphasis appears to be on language testing, rather than specialist training. But even testing is problematic for nurses from Spain, since that would contravene EU laws of freedom of movement.

Our unwillingness to offer specialist language training is also resulting in a massive waste of refugee doctors in the UK. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/health/2002/bma_conference/2072501. stm It is estimated that there could be about 1,500 medically qualified asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. "Training a junior doctor in the UK can cost around £200,000", Dr Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMA's International Committee told the BBC.

I wonder how this would compare with the cost of training in English. Or, for that matter, how many people could be trained in Esperanto for the same cost ...


The Brits are the World's worst tourists, according to a survey of 24 nationalities in 17 of the most popular holiday destinations, carried out by online travel company Expedia. http://www.expedia.co.uk/daily/press/press_releases.asp http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2137729.stm They were found to be the least well-behaved, the rudest, the least willing to learn the language, and the least enthusiastic in trying the local delicacies. Only in putting money into the local economy did they escape coming last.

Points allocated from +?? for the Germans, to -?? for the Israelis and the Irish, with a massive -44 for the British. The Germans ranked highest for attempting to speak the local language, and the British, who make the least effort, preferred to simply talk louder in English.

This report appeared only days after a crackdown on British tourists in the Rhodes resort of Faliraki http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2073745.stm. Director of the Greek National Tourist Office in London, Panos Argyros, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that young people abroad "have to behave a little bit". "They have to respect in a way the customs of the area".

And in a language teaching exchange in Parliament, Lord Strabolgi had made the point shorty beforehand that it is unusual to see British tourists able to book a hotel room or order a meal in a restaurant in any language other than English. "Many British people now go to France to live and many of them are unable to speak the language", he continued, "That is not good from Franco-British relations as it causes misunderstanding". (Hansard 26 June 2002) http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld199697/ldhansrd/ pdvn/lds02/text/20626-19.htm

I wonder where Esperanto speakers would come out in a tourist survey. What do you think? There's a Talking Point discussion on the BBC's news website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/2138252.stm for you to air your views.


EAB NETNEWS - a newsletter from Esperanto Association of Britain
Editor: Ian Fantom, eabnetnewsatesperanto.org, tel: 01635 38592
EAB Office: Esperanto Association of Britain, Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, ST12 9DE
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