Key data on teaching languages at school in Europe
The indicators in this edition of Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe cover a number of issues at the heart of contemporary thought and discussion in Europe relating to foreign language teaching. They address the degree of linguistic diversity in European schools and the need to provide appropriate support measures to pupils learning the language of instruction as a second language. Issues such as the earlier teaching of foreign languages in primary education, and the challenges this poses for teachers and for the distribution of available taught time across curriculum subjects... also come under scrutiny. In secondary education, the relatively lower percentage of pupils learning languages in vocational or pre-vocational education in comparison with those in general education is highlighted, as is the relatively limited range of foreign languages learnt in schools, which are both significant issues in a multilingual Europe within an increasingly global economy. To be effective, foreign language teaching needs well qualified foreign language teachers. Yet, finding such teachers to fill vacancies or cover for absentees appears to be difficult for school heads in some countries. Besides relevant qualifications, foreign language teachers need sufficient and appropriate teaching resources as well as clear teaching guidelines. Yet, even if these needs are met, implementing official recommendations might still prove to be a challenge in some countries. Finally, as research shows, motivation is a key factor in successful learning and high exposure to foreign languages facilitates the acquisition of language skills. Creating opportunities to improve student motivation and enable greater exposure to target languages can be challenging for some schools in some countries, but cross-border collaboration projects as well as pupil and teacher exchanges are certainly helpful practices that could be further developed across Europe.