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5 Subjects! Secondary Teachers

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by emartinez_1971, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    It's not quite the same thing. Humanities and Science teachers often make it to SLT, and expect MFL teachers to do what they do - but it doesn't work that way with languages. Really you should have at least a B1/2 level (A level) to be teaching KS3 effectively.
    I'm going to be horrible here, and say that I predicted this when they launched it. Sorry :oops:
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    Year 7 turn up knowing the days of the week, colours and a couple of songs. Then there are a couple in the group who have been taught really well and are bored stiff when you have to start again.In my experience these are usually kids from prep schools although it is obvious which ordinary feeder primaries are teaching it well.
    Dunteachin and vuvuzela like this.
  3. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    I'm interested in this topic, so I hope you don't mind all my questions. When you say Y7 know days of the week etc, is it just mainly vocabulary they have learned? How well have they really learned it in terms of pronunciation? What is their structural command like/? are they able to use sentences accurately (if at all) or is it just vocabulary?
  4. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Nothing. Not even a GCSE in French, I don't think.
    vuvuzela likes this.
  5. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    I think there's a DfE scheme of work for Primary Languages. Interesting reading. First, MFL was compulsory, then it wasn't. Don't know what state it's in now.
    vuvuzela likes this.
  6. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    In my experience year 7 just know a bit of vocab. Merci, bonjour, etc the names of 8 common pets some colours and so on. They can not do sentences and have no concept of grammar. The sort of thing you have to do very early on du, de la etc is completely unknown to them.
    vuvuzela likes this.
  7. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    back to the OP. In one of my favourite schools I ended up teaching 7 subjects in 13 rooms. Partly because I taught my weaker Year Sevens part of their curriculum. I was trained for teaching Maths and Science, then sidelined into Business Studies based on a previous life before teaching. Did lots of volunteering to lead sports clubs, so ended up teaching some Games. Then added a spot of IT and Geography. Ended up Head of Biz and IT at the next school. After all that, diverted into Primary.
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    and as regard the teaching of French in Primary. My experience based on a few years of Primary Supply and some longer term work in 3 Primaries now. All classes are supposed to do a bit of conversational French for 30 minutes a week. Other pressures mean it often gets squeezed out and weaker pupils will miss what there is through various catch ups and interventions. Often it is reduced to answering the afternoon register in french with a brief reply to a simple question tagged on from time to time. Of course it does not help when a Primary teacher who never did a single minute of French at school (they learnt German or Spanish) is expected to teach French to a class, or even put in charge of the subject for the whole school.
    I did work at a school that hired a secondary specialist for one year to lead all classes for half an hour a week. The intention being that we all learnt from her. It worked brilliantly, for that year only. After she was let go, it quickly descended back to a bit here and there.
    I'm sure the picture is better in some schools, but I say what I saw.
    Lara mfl 05 and Dunteachin like this.
  9. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Primary French was a Big Thing back in the 1970s when I first started teaching. People made careers out of it! We're no further forward and never will be, because no-one ( apart from us linguists) cares a jot about language learning in this country.
    The whole world speaks English, you see.
    Geoff Thomas and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  10. vuvuzela

    vuvuzela Occasional commenter

    So primary French is an opportunity completely wasted, then? 30 minutes a week is pointless so it's no wonder schools aren't bothering with it. Are teachers noticing any other possible benefits from the exposure at primary, such as a more positive attitude to learning languages, at least a the start of Y7, does it make no difference, or is it actually detrimental?
  11. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    I'm out of it, so I don't know. But year 7's comprise children of varying levels of MFL from the sublime to the ridiculous. And within one class, you'll get children who have 'studied' different languages. There is no joined up thinking, no national co-ordination.
    We start from scratch at KS3 because we have to. Children who complain that they've "done this in Primary school" are pacified with "well, you've got a head start then!"

    Utter and complete waste of time. But those with a vested interest in it will come on here and dispute that. I have the benefit of hindsight :)
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  12. sam enerve

    sam enerve New commenter

    Since becoming a teacher of languages in the mid 90s, I have taught: French and German (my specialisms), ICT, RE, Spanish, Technology, PE (anyone who knows me will be laughing at this!), Travel and Tourism, Business Studies (to GCSE, GNVQ, BTEC and A Level) and Maths,

    In response to @Dunteachin, Year 7 at my school spend 2 weeks doing the basics (greetings, age, where you live, etc) in French and then go straight into the topic of My Town and My Region - something which none of our primaries have done. I checked. With so much content needed for GCSE there isn't time to start from scratch in year 7, I've found.

    I've also worked in a school with non specialists who have taught a language and have ruined the experience for the students who dropped languages as soon as they could...
    Dunteachin and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  13. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    To clarify previous comments:
    The teaching of any modern or ancient language in KS2 has been compulsory since September 2014. Unless you're an academy or free school of course.
    There is a programme of study document from the DfE that runs to two-and-a-bit pages, which, for the non-specialist, is impenetrable. Even for this specialist of 23 years, it took a while and some re-sorting to make sense of it.
    The DfE has not produced a scheme of work for any of the languages for KS2, and no money has been put into primary languages since 2010. Pre-2010 primary languages was doing really well with investment and significant training. A Conservative win in the 2010 Election soon put paid to that and we entered 4 years of limbo when much of the good work was undone.
    Ofsted have made various pronouncements about languages in KS2, but any focus on languages during inspections is very rare and the subject is rarely featured in Ofsted reports.
    I've been teaching KS2 (and KS1) languages for 9 years. Every year, towards the end of the summer term, I send to the secondary schools my Y6s will be going to, a list of what they have done during their 1hr a week for 6 years, and an idea of what kind of language learner each child is. Last year, out of 6 schools I contacted, I received an email back from one, thanking me for the information about the 2 children they'd be getting. The majority of my Y6s (about 26 out of a class of 30 usually) go to the same secondary school, where they do the same language as us. I never hear back from them and I have it on good authority that my Y6s who go there start from Hola again, having, in old money, been working at a level 3-4 with me.
    So before we have any more primary language bashing, consider that there are schools where children learn a lot and well. Do you know what your feeders do and have done by the time they get to you in Y7? Or do you and your blinkers take the easy route and do what you've always done, starting with Hola?
    Lara mfl 05, Dunteachin and pascuam49 like this.
  14. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    I haven't bashed Primary Languages. I created and taught a 4 year programme of study for French from years 3 to 6 in two independent schools, so I have plenty of experience! I did it for about 12 years.
    But I'm being realistic.Some of our year 6s moved up into the Senior school, where I also taught, so you would have expected us to power ahead. Not so. Because a lot of the other new starters came from all over the place, with varying degrees of language acquisition. So, we had to start with the basics.
    And this is what happens in a lot of secondary schools.

    Also, I think Primary school languages teachers are viewed with some suspicion...

    Geekie, you're an exception to the rule, and I know you've put an awful lot of time and energy into Primary languages. We've been banging on for decades about having to solve this problem of transition, but it just doesn't happen on a large scale. Dommage!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    It would be nice if the experienced learners could be taught together and the complete beginners in a different group but I think that will never happen
    Lara mfl 05 and Dunteachin like this.
  16. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Let's face it: transition from year 6 to 7 in the majority of secondary schools is right at the bottom of the list of priorities! In my last state school, someone was responsible for liaising with feeder primaries, teaching a few lessons, doing the odd Language Day - but it had absolutely no impact on secondary provision.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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