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Katalin Petneki : What is a foreign language worth if it is german?

Concerning the number of students and teachers involved in foreign language education, English takes the first place. There is some statistical evidence claiming that at different levels of education German is nearly as popular as English. The importance of any foreign language is supported by other data, for example, in job advertisements language knowledge is also among the conditions of many applications. In Hungary, in this aspect, just as in any former social countries, German takes the first place. This tendency shows the important role taken by Germany in this area. In Western Europe, German as a foreign language is important only in Germany because of the great number of foreigners. In other EC countries it is preceded by English, French and Spanish. In Hungary, German is studied and taught for economical reasons as well as for reasons of educational tradition. Surveys reveal that only very few people would say that they speak any foreign language, although they had to study it for at least 4 years at school. There are different reasons for this failure. Teaching objectives, since they were not compatible with the real aims of the student, were ignored in practical language teaching. Priority was taken by the language examination, and the aims of the student and the teacher were adjusted to it. For a long time, the goal of adults was also to obtain the language certificate. The situation has changed during the course of time. It became clear that what is needed is language competence, that is to develop the ability of thinking and acting independently in the foreign language, Not only foreign language knowledge but intercultural competency is also expected. The renewal of foreign language education should be in agreement with these aims. Teachers of foreign languages should coordinate their work to develop and revitalize their profession.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 93. Number 3-4. 135-174. (1993)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Katalin Petneki, Eötvös Loránd University, Department of German Studies, Centre of German Methology, H–1146 Budapest, Ajtósi Dürer sor 19–24.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia