A Philosophical Study of the Value of Modern Foreign Languages in the Secondary Curriculum: A Deweyian Analysis

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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    In this research, I consider the value of studying Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) within a National Curriculum for the secondary phase. Arguably, schools are already struggling to accommodate the range of traditional and emerging subjects required to prepare pupils for life and work after school. In light of this, this study addresses the issue of low take up of MFL in schools – and universities – a trend that is impacting on teacher shortages across the full range of languages. It also starts from the identification of low intrinsic motivation amongst pupils to study a foreign language, whilst English continues to develop as the accepted language of business, the Internet, youth culture and tourism. Against this background, this research suggests that the available literature focuses on the instrumental value of modern foreign language learning (if value is mentioned at all). Since intrinsic value cannot be measured in terms of empirical data, I adopt a philosophical approach to this study. In doing this, I turn to the work of John Dewey, in particular his 1938 work, Experience and Education in order to highlight the value of MFL in the contemporary school curriculum. Through a detailed reading of this seminal work, I consider Dewey’s notions of continuity and interaction, as well as the role of the educator. I then consider the implications of these concepts for contemporary teaching and learning in MFL as there are important lessons for present-day practice in Dewey’s work. I suggest recommendations for policy makers, institutions, and professionals for improving pupils’ experience of MFL, and for reinforcing its value in one’s education.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationMaster of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Fulford, Amanda, Supervisor
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2016


    • Dewey
    • MFL
    • Continuity
    • Interaction
    • Value
    • Experience
    • Curriculum
    • Education


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