In an open letter, 42 French teachers from 14 higher education institutions and universities in Flanders are sounding the alarm bell over a lack of time for the language in schools.
“The whole French language early learning path is under threat and our expertise, our passion for the language, our professional honour as teachers and our responsibilities as instructors oblige us to defend ourselves,” they asserted.
The lack of support for primary school teachers for teaching the basics of French in Flanders is well known, the teachers are stating. “With the recent reforms, the workload has only increased and many colleagues admit they have less time and space for French.”
But learning the language is also under pressure in secondary education. “The new achievement objectives for French in the second stage of secondary education were promising,” the letter’s signatories argue.
However, the education authorities – who transform objectives into programmes – have reduced the number of hours, with three hours a week instead of four or six. “That will make the achievement of the objectives impossible.”
Fresh objectives for the second stage are also being prepared. A less advanced baseline level than planned will have to be taken into account, the signatories warn. They also condemn the small amount of time allotted to the teaching of French at this level.
The flow of students into higher education is already showing itself to be a “negative development.” “The students’ language level has declined seriously, in such a way that teachers have to struggle to continue to be able to teach the necessary material.”
That is why the 42 signatories are calling for French to be taught for a minimum of 4 hours a week during the first stage of secondary education. During the second stage, they are demanding a minimum of three hours.