The last decade has undoubtedly seen a greater, renewed importance given to language learning from ‘the top’, with the British Academy’s (2019) statement that monolingualism is “the illiteracy of the 21st Century” (Roberts et al, cited in The British Academy, 2019: 3) and the government’s inclusion of foreign languages as a requirement to pass the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).
To cite this article: Sturt-Schmidt, James (2021). Duolingo: How I put my findings into practice in MFL, The Millennial [Online], Available at: (this page URL). As part of my PGCE at the University of Exeter, in 2020 I carried out a research project at my placement school that focused on the issue of low student motivation…
In recent times, the expanding field of cognitive science has weighed in on what learning looks like and has had quite an effect on British education. According to Sweller et al (2011), learning necessitates change(s) in the long-term memory: “‘if nothing in the long-term memory has been altered, nothing has been learned”. This sort of thinking, that successfully ‘uploading’ pieces of information into one’s long-term memory constitutes learning, has become popular in recent times. I suppose it’s coherent with the dictionary definition. After all, how can we ‘acquire’ knowledge and skills if not by storing information in our brains?
Questions around the purpose(s) of education are as old as education itself. Ancient Greek philosophers contemplated the purpose of education, pondered the suitability of certain materials as educational content, and arguably first developed the connection between educating citizens and achieving social justice. In the UK, ‘education’ in the sense of formal training, not carried out by one’s own family, was traditionally reserved for the elite, for whom education was often about becoming ‘cultured’.