Reports suggest that fewer schoolchildren in English-speaking countries such as the US, UK, Australia and even New Zealand are learning a second or foreign language.
This is a worrying trend because it makes students less competitive, in addition to having a smaller arsenal of skills needed to thrive in this increasingly globalized and multicultural world.
A Pew Research Center report found that only 20% of K12 students in the United States participate in foreign language instruction, compared to 92% of European students.
Save UK’s ‘diminishing’ language skills, say MPs and peers https://t.co/fWbKH0HTms
— branwen jeffreys (@branwenjeffreys) March 4, 2019
In the UK, a BBC report said: “BBC analysis shows falls of between 30 and 50% since 2013 in the number of people taking GCSE language courses in the worst affected parts of England. A separate secondary school survey suggests that a third have dropped at least one language from their GCSE options.
He added: ‘Figures for Wales showed GCSE language entries fell by 29% over five years, and 35% of schools dropped at least one language from their GCSE options’ while in Northern Ireland, “The number of modern languages at GCSEs has fallen by 40% since 2003, with 45% of schools saying they have reduced the number of specialist language teachers over the past five years.
The report notes that “41% of Scottish schools that responded said they had stopped offering at least one foreign language course to 16-year-olds”.
Addressing the BBCCarmel College in St Helens, Merseyside, principal Mike Hill says schools and students view languages as a “high-risk choice” because these subjects make it more difficult to get good grades in exams.
Can Netflix motivate students to learn a second or foreign language?
All of a sudden, I have dozens of choices for #dubbing and #subtitles has my #Netflix Account. I think it’s because I accessed the platform using an app called #LLN (Language Learning with Netflix) which extracts audio and #Subtitle strings. Heaven for the language nerd! pic.twitter.com/tKxfDIpQOJ
— Stavroula Sokoli 🗺️ (@StavroulaSokoli) February 18, 2019
There is no doubt that learning a new language can be difficult for young and old students, while those from English-speaking countries may not see the need to learn another language.
However, a streaming service like Netflix, which in North America remains a leader in video consumption in teenagers, change that?
A Chrome extension called Language learning with Netflix (LLN) allows viewers to learn a new language while watching Netflix.
According to the Chrome Web Store, with this Chrome extension, students can watch their favorite shows with two subtitles simultaneously, allowing them to compare the translation with the original audio and text; it can help develop their listening comprehension skills.
Some of the languages currently available include Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. Students can also slow down dialogue, while there is also a pop-up dictionary.
So, can this tool help rejuvenate students’ love of language learning? Should parents and educators incorporate LLN into the lives of their children or students?
Although the benefits of LLN remain to be seen, this tool can be useful for supplementing students’ language study outside of the classroom.
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