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BBC Oxford news report shocker

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by MereRoyaume, May 24, 2011.

  1. Just wanted to bring this to everyone's attention. Last night on the local news there was a report from an Oxfordshire school where the Headteacher has said she wants to become an Academy because she doesn't think all children should learn a language and wants to withdraw those with poor literacy skills from MFL. I could not believe a Headteacher could say what she did nor that a BBC news programme could show such an unbalanced report. There was no opportunity for anyone to give an alternative viewpoint. I've enclosed the link to the ALL response to the report which has a link to the original news report. Apologies to anyone who's already seen it.

    http://www.all-languages.org.uk/news/news_list/all_response_to_bbc_oxford_article
     
  2. jubilee

    jubilee Lead commenter

    I agree with the Head , not about seeking Academy status but about the need to be able to withdraw certain pupils from MFL in KS3
    I don't believe the statements in the article about MFL being valuable to all pupils or that studying it doesn't have a detrimental effect on English skills for those with already poor literacy skills.
    When teaching MFL to pupils with Reading Ages well below their actual age, we have to make lots of use of cognates but those words often have slightly different spellings (Different/dificil etc) and pupils who have struggled to learn the double f usage in English are suddenly having to cope with learning a new spelling rule. Confusion is the order of the day and their small steps in English are compromised.
    My solution to giving them as broad an education as possible is for them to have European Studies, instead of MFL. The lessons would deliver English Literacy catch-up lessons with cultural and geographical aspects about European countries as the subject matter. A modicum of foreign words could be included (numbers to 10 or 20, cafe foods and drinks, greetings etc).
    Yr7 is often mixed ability in MFL and it's pitiful seeing pupils with a reading age of 6 trying to keep up and high-flyers being held back, all in the name of supposed equality.
     
  3. I agree with the fact that year 7 should be in sets. I teach a class with 32 pupils, all from various feeder schools, some with already 2 or 3 years of French, others who never studied a language or learnt 3 words here and there. I try my best to cater for all needs, but there is so much I can do with such a big class.... Drawing some kind of schemes of work in conjunction with the main feeder schools would be a good start, something on which we could build in secondary. Setting them from year 7 taking into account pupils with difficulties in literacy could also help motivate them instead of having to see them sink because their needs are not met. I like the idea of maybe more oral work to start with, with the possibility of a return into upper sets when literacy in English reaches the right level. Withdrawing EAL however I believe would be a mistake: as pointed out abovethey usually do really well at GCSE level, because they already know how to use their skills to learn another language, which can give them an advantage over pupils who have never had to. These are just my thoughts, I am still an NQT but really enjoy the opportunity to read other points of view!
     
  4. runaway

    runaway New commenter

    Sounds like some poor PMFL practice being quoted, followed by poor KS3 practice - sigh... It's doesn't have to be this. There IS some fine KS2 practice and equally some outstanding KS3 practice. Where the two come together ALL children achieve. Just because the situation is sadly not the norm, shouldn't mean we all give up and withdraw children instead of concentrating on improving teaching for the good of everyone - surely?
    As the daughter of a man who left school illiterate only to be diagnosed 20 years later with dyslexia - but who was able to speak (and interestingly, write too) in 4 languages, I'd like to speak up for all those who are being dismissed and not offered the opportunity.
    I also work in special schools, have taught at least one bilingual child with Down's Syndrome and really think it's about time we got a little more scientific about what children can and can't do when the will to support them is present.
     
  5. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy New commenter

    Interesting one. On balance, I'm with the HT on this one, largely because of the massive gains I've seen when barely literate CAT 80s kids have been withdrawn from MFL to concentrate on core english, maths and, in one case, science related to what she really was interested in and capable of. Unhappy and frustrated children turned almost overnight into good students.
    The benefit wasn't limited to the withdrawn children either, of course. With fewer interruptions and, again in one case, tantrums, the whole class progressed better and faster.
    I appreciate that it's hard for an MFL teacher to suggest children leave MFL classes, but we're there for their benefit rather than the underpinning of our own subject area.
    And anything that knocks another nail in the cofffin of the equality myth can't be a bad thing either!
    [​IMG]
     
  6. jubilee

    jubilee Lead commenter

    I don't buy the equality argument. Some pupils get to study digital photography at High school or Equestrian studies or Horticulture but other schools don't even offer those subjects. They are not a right for every child and neither should MFL be when the child has significant numeracy and literacy issues. With Inclusion, that accounts for a fair number of pupils in many mainstream schools.
    Their best interests are served by being extra time on those weak areas so that they can keep upin the other subjects that rely on English and number work.
    It is unlikely to be detrimental for their future if they cannot conduct a basic conversation in French or Spanish but it most assuredly will be if they leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate,
     
  7. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    One way round this is to go back to basics with phonics (I'm an absolute convert). Even if children have been learning the language for a few years, chances are they've either never been introduced to the phonics of the language, or if they have they have forgotten quite a bit of it. Kids with previous knowledge can draw on it to support the phonics they are introduced to, whilst kids who haven't got any previous knowledge can build up confidence in the new language knowing the basics.
    I'm also a big fan of the Talk Project - teaching "je suis" and "j'ai" to build up a lot of sentences quickly, e.g. je suis petit, grand, je suis Michael, j'ai les yeux bleus, j'ai un frère, j'ai une maison etc. Again, something which kids aren't likely to have done in any great detail before but where previous knowledge can come in handy, whilst not hindering the kids who haven't done anything before.
     

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