Languages: the voice of reason in Redditch

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Bridley Moor High School in Redditch set up a controlled experiment to test the effectiveness of accelerated learning methods for studying a foreign language. One group of 13- and 14-year-olds were given 10 weeks of accelerated teaching while a parallel group continued to be taught by traditional methods. In end-of-year examinations, 90 per cent of the accelerated students gained marks of 80 per cent or above, compared with only 13 per cent of the control class.

Their teacher, deputy headteacher Val Duffy Cross, was delighted to find that two years later the accelerated group did substantially better at GCSE than their peers, and that they now make up 90 per cent of her A- level group.

"It is difficult to combine these techniques with examination courses because so far most of the accelerated teaching materials in languages have been designed for adults. But we saw a significant effect with a 10-week course, and I'm still using the same methods successfully with middle and lower ability children. I think it has encouraged the whole school to think more seriously about how children learn as well as what they learn."