Globalisation has changed world citizens’ lifestyle; nowadays people has other needs and interests, enabling easy communication and commerce between countries and establishing then a common language spoken all over the world, which is English. In Catalonia, migration and tourism have influenced the spoken language too, when Catalans are required a good English command when applying for a job. Even though English has been tough in schools for more than 30 years, Catalan society is not enough prepared to achieve that linguistic requirements. Actually, Catalan people have some advantages when learning a language due to the fact we are bilinguals; we have proficient commands on Spanish and Catalan. Knowing two languages helps developing strategies while learning a third language, or foreign language. Therefore, why is it so complicate for society to have good English commands?
As it is mentioned in the “30 minuts” video, language education is changing to promote society a good English command; teaching the foreign language in an innovative approach, providing more realistic and meaningful inputs for students and teaching real sounds, intonat
ion and common expressions for being afterwards applied in class. I’m trying to do so in my classes, creating communicative situations where my students could apply the learned language. I believe that learning a language is more than reading and repeating a phrase, it is all about being motivated and encouraged to use it for a real purpose. An easy example would be recreating a restaurant situation, where students are asked to establish a conversation to ask for and serve some food and drinks. The teacher role is to provide the tools for that role-play to happen (grammar and lexis) as well as modelling it first for students to have a clear reference. It is obvious that our students will have seen that situation many times, as going to a restaurant is something common in our lives and, therefore, meaningful for them.
Another good practise for learning English mentioned in the documentary are the immersion projects that Spanish schools and Universities are nowadays applying.
Teaching both content and language (CLIL) is becoming more popular due to the need to provide students more input for achieving a proficient English level. The drawbacks of these projects, in my opinion, are the insufficient resources and deficient training for teachers. Because of the need to improve foreign language levels, these projects are spread and applied with no good preparation, which therefore ends in a ‘Spanglish’ science class with some lacks in terms of teaching and evaluating students. Luckily, Universities are including bilingual programs in the current courses to promote good practises and achieve the aim to have a good multilingual education.
What about original versions? In Catalonia there are few cinemas offering an original version billboard, and of course, having original TV programmes is even more complicated. Internet has helped on bringing movies and sitcoms closer to our personal access. I really appreciate watching a movie in its original version for two main reasons: you could hear the original dialogues, which sometimes have terrific jokes lost after the translation, and you could also grasp accents and intonation, as well as practising the listening and comprehension skills.
‘As sooner the better’ is a widespread idea, also mentioned in the documentary and very popular in our society, which is not 100% true. Starting learning English at early ages can be helpful to develop an interest in our children, as it is a process similar than learning a mother tongue, which is more natural. Nevertheless, there’s no such a similar immersion than learning an L1, because students are just listening and interacting through English once a week, which is not enough to grasp the language. Learning English at 10 or 12 years old could be more profitable as students will be more mature to establish relationships and connections between both languages and use transferable skills in language learning.
To sum up, Catalan society has realized the English learning approach should change to become more meaningful and closer to students, establishing immersion programmes or bilingual learning. These new approaches will avoid nowadays generation committing the same mistakes past generations did when learning a language; spending time and money studying a language which, in fact, are not able to speak or understand properly, as shown in the documentary.