Why learn a language which is “too stressful” to speak ?

I happened upon a headline over the weekend, on Yahoo I think, which said that the Oral part of GCSE language exams for school children in the UK learning foreign languages may be phased out because it was considered to be “too stressful” for them.

Quoting the Sky News item on this it says…

 “Author (of the report) Lord Dearing found it was helpful in assessing performance on the day but the stress may be putting youngsters off studying the subjects. He said the short oral should be replaced by teachers’ assessing students over a longer period.”

WHAT ?!  Am I missing something here….?

What is the point of studying a language in the first place ?  Surely it is with the intention of being able to converse in that language.  Being able to translate written text from one language to another is one thing but being able to pronounce the words correctly, hold a conversation and, basically, think on your feet while talking is, surely, the whole point of the exercise !

How much further can “dumbing down” really go ?

Having studied French for five years how on earth can having to be able to show that one can converse in French be considered “too stressful” ?  If one has any intention of USING the language one will need to be able to communicate with people.  The man in the street in Paris will not be looking at your performance over those years…. he will be wanting to communicate !!!

But maybe that is the crux of the problem…. the children leaving British schools these days can’t even communicate in English, yet alone a foreign language.

Let the kids study Maths (or “working with numbers” as it is now being called !!!!) for five years, but heaven forbid that they should actually have to prove that they can add two numbers together at the end of it !

God ! Things like this make me angry !!!!!

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