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Conference in York Highlights the Need for Languages to be Taught in Schools

Conference in York Highlights the Need for Languages to be Taught in Schools

6:02am 2nd February 2013

Up to 17 billion pounds is being lost every year because not enough people can speak a foreign language.

That's according to Nick Mair who's at St Peter's School in Cliffton this weekend chairing a discussion on teaching languages in schools.

Around 100 delegates from across the UK are in York this weekend for a major national modern languages conference.

St Peter’s School in Clifton will host the ISMLA (Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association) gathering, which will see modern languages teaching professionals meet for a full day of presentations, speeches and seminars.

The purpose of the conference, says St Peter's is to provide a forum for Modern Languages teachers in the sector to meet, share ideas and inform themselves about developments in Modern Languages Teaching.

Speakers will talk on a range of subjects, from the use of iPads in education to the best way to introduce Arabic into your curriculum. There will also be a presentation on the teaching of British Sign Language, as well as three language-specific sessions in German, French and Spanish, allowing specialist teachers to expand their knowledge in each language, say St Peter's.

They add that the conference has been organised in the context of forthcoming reforms to the National Curriculum at GCSE and A-level. A focal point for the speakers, they say will be what these changes mean for the language skills of our young people and how the learning of languages can be promoted.

Barnaby Lenon, Chairman of the Independent Schools Council, will deliver a final address. St Peter's say he will outline the likely timescale of these reforms and the opportunities and challenges the reforms present for teachers of modern languages.

Nick Mair, Chairman of ISMLA, said: “ISMLA is delighted to hold its annual national conference in York. The city has a strong tradition in modern languages, most famously remembered through Professor Eric Hawkins’s work at the York University Language Centre.

“At this crucial time for languages, the Association will be discussing a wide range of issues, not least those of examination grading, the range of languages taught in the UK and how best to ensure pupil competence in languages - particularly in a country which loses out to the tune of seven billion pounds a year because of a lack of foreign language skills.”

Mike Duffy, Head of MFL at St Peter’s School who is helping with the organisation of the event, said: “We are delighted that the ISMLA delegates are coming to York and it is an honour to be hosting this high-profile conference at such a crucial time for modern languages.”

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