An analysis of the use of French and German in employment and leisure by holders of 'A' level passes in these two languages

Emmans, Keith Allen (1985). An analysis of the use of French and German in employment and leisure by holders of 'A' level passes in these two languages. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f93f

Abstract

The intention of this enquiry was to survey, by means of a postal questionnaire, a sample of holders of ’A’ level passes in French and/or German for the years 1967-70. The main aims were to see how they had subsequently used their French and/or German in employment and/or leisure, and to compare this use with the language skills required in the ’A’ level modern language syllabuses.

The sample consisted of 573 men and women to whom a questionnaire consisting of 27 questions was sent. A response rate of 55% was obtained. Since there are approximately twice as many female 'A' level language candidates as male, a weight of two was applied to the women, giving a total weighted sample of 452 respondents.

The questionnaire covered questions on foreign language acquisition, further education, the use of French and/or German in both employment and leisure, and included an open ended question requesting comments.

The results show that approximately less than a quarter of the respondents were using their ’A’ level French in emp1oyment and well over a third were using their German. Of those, over two thirds had continued with some form of post 'A’ level study. The most common occupation using French and/or German was teaching.

The most frequently used language activities were :
(i) in employment : reading, interpreting from the foreign language, conversation
(ii) in leisure ; conversation, reading, watching TV or films.

The Free Comments by respondents showed ;
(i) a concern for oral communication and the lack of its importance in the French and German ’A’ level examinations;
(ii) a desire to use languages in employment ;
(iii) the usefulness of the languages on holiday.

It is concluded that there was a mismatch between the language skills tested in the French and German ’A’ level examinations, and those actually used in employment or leisure. Oral skills in particular seemed undervalued in the examinations.

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