A New Type of Language Degree Course- A Report from the United Kingdom


  • Derek M. VAN Abbé

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      Derek M. Van Abbé (Ph.D., University of Melbourne) is Principal Lecturer in Modern Languages and Head of the Modern Languages department in the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, under the Cambridgeshire Local Education Authority, Cambridge, England. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge, and served during the Second World War as a Major in G-2 in the War Office, London, and in the Pentagon. After 1945 he went to Australia, where he lectured in German at the University of Melbourne and was Reader in charge of German in the University of Adelaide. He returned to England in 1961. He was one of the pioneers of modern methods of language teaching in the U.K. and is one of the authors of Guide to Modern Teaching Methods (Cassell's). In 1962 he was one of the founders of the Audio-Visual Language Association and became its Foundation Chairman; he is still the Association's National Treasurer. Originally a literary historian, he is the author of three monographs on German literature, including Image of a People, a study of modern German literature in its social setting (George G. Harrap and Co., Ltd.). He has directed many courses on new teaching methods, and lectures on the subject for the U.K. Ministry of Education.


ABSTRACT: An effort is under way in the United Kingdom to develop programs of study which will prepare graduates in modern languages for careers other than the teaching of language and literature. A significant motivation for this trend is the need to revive the U.K. as a great trading nation. The pacemakers in this movement are the recently established universities such as Sussex, Essex, and York, and a number of new universities which were formerly colleges of advanced technology. An example is the course planned for the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. The student will concentrate on one of the Main Languages (French or German) commonly taught in U.K. schools, with development of optimum ability in the skills. He will also begin a Subsidiary Language (Italian or Spanish), with four years of intensive work. All phases of linguistics will be required, as will language-teaching theory, including problems likely to be encountered in teaching English as a foreign language while abroad. The student will study the geography, modern history, economics, and institutions of the countries of specialization. Six months will be spent in the country of the Main Language and six in that of the Subsidiary Language. Specimen syllabi from five other U.K. institutions are appended.