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Critical Perspectives on Modern Languages in Scottish Further Education 2000-2002

Doughty, H. (2005) Critical Perspectives on Modern Languages in Scottish Further Education 2000-2002. PhD thesis, University of Stirling.

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Abstract

The research in this thesis focuses on issues surrounding modern language provision within Scottish further education during the period 2000-2002. The study analyses the arguments regarding the place of modern language study within Scottish further education (FE) as expressed in formal and informal discourses, and assesses the influence of socio-cultural and socio-historical assumptions on these discourses. To this end, a multi-strand and multi-level research model was adopted, examining official and other public documents, together with views expressed by stakeholders from five Scottish FE colleges and from industry. These were analysed both on their own terms and by taking into account changes in the external context. The initial focus of the study centred on the motivational characteristics of student participants. However, changes in the external context prompted the inclusion of further data into the research design and a shift of methodological emphasis, exploring the ways in which assumptions underlying data collection procedures related to labour market information and uptake of individual FE subjects may be contributing to a continuous re-affirmation that 'English is enough'. The validity of this assertion and the authority accorded to it are called into question. It is argued that the belief will increasingly limit Scottish FE students' potential to participate as self-confident and self-determining individuals in a global and multilingual economy for which their vocational education and training is ostensibly trying to prepare them. Some suggestions, arising from the research, for a more inclusive language education policy are considered.