Which language to teach

From Teflpedia

Which language(s) to teach is a decision that has to be made in educational management, particularly in schools for children.

The first decision is whether to teach a foreign or second language at all. Assuming that this is seen as desirable, there is competition in a crowded curriculum for other school subjects. Language politics and education politics may play a role in shaping the curriculum. The following may factor into decisions:

  1. Traditions within the country (it is easier to continue a policy than to do something than to change it).
  2. The ability to hire teachers who can teach that language - particularly needed if a teacher moves on and needs replacing.
  3. The availability of appropriate materials and examinations to support language learning.
  4. The desire to teach national minority languages, particularly if there is a local identity (e.g. Basque, Welsh, etc)
  5. The prestige associated with a particular language.
  6. The utility of a particular language.

Given the above, the following generally holds true today:

  • In most non-English speaking countries, English is usually seen as the primary second language (points 1,2,3,5 and 6 above)
  • In bilingual or multilingual countries, (e.g. Canada, Switzerland) the other national language(s) is/are usually taught
  • In border regions, often the language of the neighbouring country is usually taught (e.g. French in the Ruhr Region of Germany).

See also: Which language to learn.