Our ability to communicate in many diverse ways, has ultimately, separated us from the other animals. We have been able to write down and pass on information through the centuries, preserve beliefs and tell tales. It is thanks to language, that we have been able to keep expanding our knowledge, generation after generation.
Did you know: The English language is a descendant of Proto-Indo-European, which was spoken by European nomads 5,000 years ago?
Over the thousands of years, English words have been slowly simplified from the various forms found in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Russian, and German. This means that in English, unlike most other European languages we often use the same word in noun or verb form. The English language has either adopted (eg ‘guru’ from Sanskrit or ‘cartoon’ from Italian) or adapted (eg ‘drug’ from the old French ‘droque’, or ‘tea’ from the Dutch ‘tay’, derived from the Malay ‘teh’.)
The English language is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese; it is an endlessly evolving beast that is laden with the weight of many histories and cultures. Every wave of immigration has enriched our language and helped it develop into a diverse language full of expression.
Why is it the case then that English as a subject has taken a back seat? The rise of the STEM subjects is partially to blame, as students tend to be pushed towards scientific and mathematical fields, however, the way exams have developed, probably also has contributed to fewer students taking English to A-Level and beyond.
In the GCSE and A-Level exams, there is such an emphasis placed upon unseen passages and rote learning, that one cannot help but feel sorry for students. Exam technique is critical, as the exams are all formulaic in the way they are delivered and the amount of time-pressure to deliver high-quality work is harsh on students who are more thoughtful and could benefit from coursework. Many Secondary Students come to us completely disengaged and discouraged. Sometimes, it feels as if they are set up to fail (alternative assessments and teaching would be appropriate in these instances). See the page on English GCSE, for more in-depth information.
English as a subject needs to compete with the STEM subjects, and it will continue to lose out until it becomes far broader in its scope and fit for the modern world.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help your child with their English, contact us on: