Article published in:Taalpolitieke kwesties in Nederland: 24 maart 1979 in Eindhoven
[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 6] 1979
► pp. 184–185
Is Engels en Duits voldoende?
suggesties voor een beleid n.a.v. de recente ITS-studies
The final studies on foreign language needs in the Netherlands, carried out by the Institute of Applied Sociology (ITS), were published in May 1978, and reported the results of a survey among pupils, former pupils and management in secondary education as well as university staff-members and foreign language users in business and government. Concerning the actual use of foreign languages the order is (1) English, (2) German, (3) French (at some distance), and (at great distance) (4) Spanish and (5) Russian. Concerning the deficiencies in the use of foreign languages the order is reversed, though Russian (a) and Spanish (2) were not paid as much attention in these studies as French (3), German (4) and Fnglish (5). Moreover, in the latter case the distance between French on the one hand and German and English on the other is much greater. This is understandable: English and German are easier for Dutchman than French, Spanish and Russian. If one takes into consideration rather important data such as (a) position and distribution of the relevant languages in the world, (b) the export figures, which are of vital impor-tance for our economy, (c) the specialist literature published in each language, and (d) tourism and recreation, the order mentioned above is to some extent different. With (a) French takes precedence over German. With (c) Russian is in second position after English for the sciences, while there is little difference between French and German. With (b) and (d) the order is German, French, English, whereas Spanish is more important than English in the field of tourism. This last kind of data indicates a more potential need; these data are in addition less susceptible to language use and language deficiencies in the case of phenomena such as unknown , unloved and the line of least resistance? which cause Dutchman to use English and German rather than French, Spanish or Russian. There is a great dicrepancy between FL teaching at secondary schools and the needs of society as outlined above. This holds especially for vocational education, but also for other kinds of secondary education where the three formerly obligatory languages French, German and English have been reduced to two languages or even one, at least in the higher forms. Especially French has suffered by this reduction, while Spanish and Russian receive only scant attention. It is suggested to bring vocational FL teaching in line with society's needs, both in the number of languages and in the number of periods per language. Secondary education will benefit by a return to the teaching of three languages for the A stream, and two for the ? stream, in the latter case only one language being a Germanic one in order to counteract the Pline of least resistance". Spanish and Russian should be options, too, but only in the higher forms. Therefore an increase in the number of periods per week and the number of exam-subjects is necessary to half the number required before the introduction of the "Mammoet" law. These suggestions for a FL educational policy to bridge the gap between society1s needs and what is at present being offered in FL teaching are submitted for discussion. The complete text of this paper will appear in a series of articles in the 1979 issues of Levende Talen under the title "Van behoeftenonderzoek naar onderwijsbeleid - enige kanttekeningen bij de recente ITS-studies."
Published online: 24 March 2014