Leerplanontwikkeling voor de moderne vreemde talen: 12 november te Nijmegen
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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At the Institute for Applied Sociology of the University of Nijmegen, an investigation into foreign language needs of several groups in Dutch society has been carried out in 1975 through 1977. Questionnaires were submitted to these different groups, e.g. to former pupils of secondary schools. The questionnaire consisted mainly of a list of 24 descriptions of situations in which foreign languages are used. In these descriptions the significant features of language situations are systematically varied. For each situa-tion we asked if and how frequently it occurs and if the knowledge of the languages learnt is sufficient for this kind of situation.The results of the investigation show large differences in language needs (defined as actual use of the foreign language and shortcomings in the knowledge of that language in certain situations) both between the former pupils of the different types of secondary schools as well as between the languages most commonly taught in Dutch schools, French, German and English. More specifically it was found that the actual use of foreign languages occurs more frequently among former pupils of certain vocational schools (especially technical schools) than among former pupils of general secondary schools. French appears to be used less frequently than German and English. English is used by a somewhat larger group than German, but this does not hold for all groups. Former pupils of technical schools use German as much as English.The resulting data can be used to choose objectives for foreign language teaching. There is however no simple and direct way from language needs to objectives. In choosing objectives on the basis of findings on language needs, one will have to decide which measure of language needs is taken into account and how this measure (or these measures) is (are) used. If we decide for example to take the size of the group that has actually used a foreign language in one of the situations as a criterion for the choice of that situation as a part of the objectives of language teaching, we will then have to decide where we draw the line between situations that are and situations that are not important enough to be chosen. In other words, we have to decide how large the group of language users must be. It is evident that there is no shorter way from language needs to objectives than a carefully argued choice of measures and of the use of these measures.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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