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Foreign language learning in the UK … Fonética y fonología … McWilliams on credit 4th of May, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 02:20

I seem to be productive at surfing the web, or productive at writing entries here, but rarely both at the same time. (Now, whether either of them can really be classed as “productive activities” is an entirely separate question, and one on which I have no opinion right now.) To remedy that, here’s a few diverting links of the last few days (more are available at http://​del.​icio.​us/​aidan/​ , of course):

Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve in a debate in the House of Lords had this to say on teaching language in the UK:

Let us have no illusions. UK language performance was already in deep trouble before the 14-19 Green Paper was published. That has nothing to do with the special status of being an English-speaking country. Let us make a comparison with the other English-speaking country in the European Union, the Republic of Ireland. More Irish than British schoolchildren take languages to school-leaving level, although the Republic’s population is about one-fifteenth of the UK population, perhaps one-twelfth of the English population. I am talking about numbers, not percentages.…

Now, of course, that does not necessarily mean a whole lot for foreign-language competence among people from the UK. I suspect that of the people in this world who die being able to speak one or more languages that they had no exposure to in their community as children, probably a majority of them learned those languages from immersion in the communities that spoke them. Also, the A-Levels and the Leaving Certificate (the school-leaving exams in the UK and Ireland, respectively) are not directly comparable in this; people routinely study twice as many subjects for the Leaving as their peers in the UK would for the A-Levels. But still, quite a contrast.

Hier gibt es eine angenehme Einleitung zur Phonologie und Phonetik des Spanischen; es ist wirklich leicht zum Lesen, weil alle die Fachwortschatz sehr nah an dem Englischen liegt. Meine Herrschaft der Phonologie und der Phonetik ist gut genug dass ich keinen wirklichen Bedarf daran habe; trotzdem, es ist interessant was zu lesen in einem Fachgebiet die man interessant findet, auf eine Fremdsprache die man kaum nutzen kann.

And a tiny thing, but important all the same; David McWilliams tells us something I didn’t know before; John Hume, famous for being one of the most consistently sane politicians of Northern Ireland’s history, was also one of the founders of the Credit Union up there.

Word of the day: Тамоку is Tajik for “tobacco” and is eerily close to the “tomacco” of Simpsons fame.

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