By Michael Byram
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Additional info for Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Education (Multilingual Matters 46)
Has some facility'. To argue that `facility, or even a qualification, in a community language should be seen as providing any young person with a skill of direct relevance to work in areas of ethnic minority settlement in fields such as social services, nursing and education' is to turn too quickly to fashionable terms such as skill and relevance, and to talk too easily of the applications before considering some more fundamental issues of purpose and role for minority languages. The Swann Report is not an official policy document but the report of a committee appointed by the Minister responsible for education, the Secretary of State for Education and Science.
Were majority pupils to learn the local minority language, the situation would be different. By learning the language they would begin to experience the concepts of a different culture, as in foreign language learning, but it would be a culture which influences and contributes to the individual identity of their bilingual friends and neighbours. They would thereby be obliged to notice the `backstage' culture and to begin to experience it in its own language in a way which is fundamentally different from simply being told about it in a `multicultural' lesson.
The choice of which minority language should be offered to English monolinguals would be determined by the social context. The reason for choosing a minority language rather than a foreign language is based on the argument that by so doing there will be greater recognition of the role of minority languages within the national identity. It would therefore be unreasonable to choose a minority language spoken elsewhere in Britain but not in the vicinity of the school, for this would defeat the purpose of bringing pupils into closer contact with their own linguistic environment.
Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Education (Multilingual Matters 46) by Michael Byram