The Guardian, it seems, is planning a series about Language Learning in the coming months and I am looking forward to it.
Growing up on the continent with the next border (and language) just around the corner, it always feels so much better to be able to understand and speak at least a bit of French, Danish, Italian etc. A world capital like London should make you equally aware of other languages and cultures. However here English seems to stop a lot of people venturing into unknown territory because it is after all a global language.
Somehow that seems to be reflected in how foreign languages are being taught in British schools. Its rigid examination procedure stops an imaginative teacher dead in his or her tracks because certain subjects have to be covered in a certain way at a certain time. On top of that one can hardly blame the kids of loosing interest when they find out that exactly the same subjects are being covered in all the other modern languages (your pets, your home, five a day, keep fit and healthy and look after your body, environmental issues, juvenile delinquency!) etc. - here I started to believe in brainwashing since the last few subjects are also discussed in classes like social science etc. ...) The school books hardly touch on the culture of the country nor do they leave enough time to check out samples of foreign literature apart from the required texts. If you are hunting for good grades, you cannot divert. It is a very detached way of teaching, immersive it is not.
Glad I got this off my chest. Therefor, on a more humorous note, have a look at James Chapman's approach to languages - the Soundimals.