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CAs are pants, so how should we assess MFL at GCSE?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by mlapworth, May 4, 2011.

  1. Well, yeah, that is the other way round, but pupils are asked to answer questions on an English text in German or to summarise an English text in German to show their translation skills. Literal translation isn't en vogue anymore :D. So I think that's perhaps another reason for the Q & A in English in the listening part, in order not to ask them to do the same thing twice.
  2. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    MFL GCSE in the UK doesn't have a separate part of the exam that tests translation skills. I think there should be an element of translation (both ways) in the MFL GCSE. But I'd still argue for Q & A in English in Reading and Listening. Q & A in English about TL texts went out of fashion for several years, but it has made a come back recently as people have for the most part accepted that it is a better way of testing understanding in Reading and Listening comprehensions.
    Now, obviously, organisations such as Cambridge ESOL, and the world of EFL publishing, are not going to endorse Q & A in the L1, as it's in their interest to maintain a situation that allows them to sell the same resources and exams to everyone, irrespective of their L1.
  3. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    It seems that CAs are set to disappear and be replaced by terminal exams.
    So... any more thoughts on what GCSE assessment should look like?
  4. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Dictation in MFL.
    Translation both ways of a decent-sized paragraph.
    Reading comprehension - answers in English from open questions ( Where was Alain in para 1 and why? Not ...why was Alain at the railway station and what type of ticket was he intending to buy to London?)
    Candidates to write a short essay in MF based on one of two given titles or a series of 6 or 8 storyline pictures.
    Speaking test with a visiting examiner.
    Listening test where most, if not all, answers are to be written in English to establish that the candidate actually understood what they heard.
    In a Foundation level written paper, the pupils coukld link up MFL and English words and phrases. They could then be asked to supply the MFL for English words and vice versa and then be required to write a paragraph on a given theme (3 choices). An easier dictation. Speaking assessed on outcome. A simpler Listening to be answered in English.
    Significant credit given for accuracy of language.

  5. Whilst I am a big fan of dictation I think that this would be French teachers shooting themselves in the foot.
    There would have to be parity between languages. Dictation is so much more difficult in French than the other FIGS.
  6. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    This really does not bother me as I am treating the writing in a similar way to the old coursework but I would welcome more consistent marking next summer! I actually find that many of my students are doing worse on CA speaking than they did in the former exam due to over-reliance on pre-learning vast chunks of language. For the old exam they still learned stuff but not in such huge chunks as they had such a large variety of possible topic areas and questions within the topics.
  7. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Yes, consistency of marking would be welcome. I read that 16% of all writing CA was graded as A*. I am amazed that only one of our grammar school pupils got an A*. Either the marker was severe (very likely from the re-marks we had done), I taught them poorly (never!) or some centres are getting inflated marks by improper practice (who knows?).
    Other centres had my experience, namely that marking was harsh.
  8. I have mentioned elsewhere what I believe to have been the root of the problem but to summarise, there was no face-to-face examiner meeting, many examiners had previously been coursework moderators or speaking examiners and needed better preparation for examining writing, there were inconsistencies in the standardising material, and insufficient random sampling of examiners' work. AQA have said they will improve things this year which is no compensation for last summer's candidates of course - but if they don't, then those of you who had fair marks last year should brace youselves for a possible nasty shock.
    From what I hear, the speaking was better organised at moderator level and the training was better. They had no say on the unrecorded task marks but the damage, where it happened, was during the number-crunching after the marks were in.
    At the feedback meeting it seemed that almost everyone I talked to had some horror story or other.
    To answer the thread title - the fair way is to have a terminal exam. IGCSE, when it gets accredited..
  9. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    At least Gove has said that he'd like to reform GCSEs:
    ...so hopefully CAs will eventually be chucked out. I think the recent announcements on changes to the CAs will only affect the next year or 2.
    If there really is going to be complete reform of GCSEs in Modern Languages, what do you think the assessment scheme should look like? (It doesn't have to be one that's already in place under a different name, or a return to a previous system.)
  10. As I mentioned in a previous posting on this thread, we have to ensure gaming (cheating) is NEARLY impossible. Therefore, no coursework. Speaking exams which are tightly administered by a trustworthy member of staff. (Not HOD maybe exams officer.school governor)
    No member of MFL dept allowed to enter the exam hall during tests.
    One exam board so there is no shopping around for the easiest GCSE to pass.
    Whatever we decide is important to learn/teach in MFL must not be manipulated by teachers/parents/students etc.
    I have seen teachers write students' coursework and these students get A* in writing but only get C/D in reading. Anyone can work out this is very fishy. However, exam boards would never investigate because they don't care about learning only money. See recent Daily Telegraph investigation.
    Also I have seen teachers point to the correct answers during listening/reading exams.This included the deputy head teacher.
    Once you have "security" of the exam. Then we can discuss what should be taught. Personally, I think that CA is not a bad idea if students/parents/teachers did n't cheat. Unfortunately, this is the world in which we live in: get what you can for the minimum/regardless of the methods. (Credit crunch/over inflated mortgages/MP expenses/Banks not paying tax/multi billionaires not paying tax/
    The banks need tighter regulation so does our exam system. At the moment our exam system mirrors the worst of the banking system (Circa 2007)
  11. I think to get the A* - A grades there should be some grammatical awareness tested. Short sentences to translate, or sentences with errors to detect, maybe. Dictation for those aiming for A*, perhaps.
    Getting a good grade because you use a variety of linking words and opinions in a pre-learnt essay surely can't be best practice. There needs to be, for the top grades, some way of showing that pupils can react to something they weren't expecting. Perhaps pre-released set titles for writing (the exam being done during the exam season) with an optional extra written task for (say) A* - B candidates in traditional exam style.
    For speaking there could be a picture to describe and answer questions on, or a brief previously unseen passage to read aloud and then answer some questions on.and just one CA style test - both recorded and externally assessed. Again, pre-released set titles could be issued to avoid any rubric infringement. I think that schools are teaching far too much to the test (as they would, knowing what's going to be in it) and the unpredictable question fails to ensure a sufficient degree of spontenaity - they can easily be trained to trot out a pre-learnt response no matter what the question is.
    I think that reading and listening could stay as they are, more or less, but some element of translation from TL to English could be brought in for the top grades.
    The main priority for me would be to bring in more unpredictability and reduce the memorisation of prepared tasks for the productive skills.

  12. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    30% speaking
    30% listening
    20% reading
    20% writing

    All examined.
  13. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    This would really discriminate against poorer students who do not have the chance to visit the TL country except on school visits and probably not even then. I think we should go back to 25% for each skill all examined and dictionary in the writing exam.
  14. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    How about no dictionary in the writing exam?
    Allowing a dictionary cancels out part of the advantage of a writing exam that tests what they know, rather than what they can look up. Pupils who have known from the start of the course that no dictionary is allowed will be more likely to learn vocabulary and grammar usage (the type of memorising that is useful, as opposed to the parrotting of large chunks of text for CAs and Speaking presentations).
    If you allow dictionaries, you also need to specify which dictionary is permitted as the more expensive ones have grammar charts and lists of useful phrases (for writing letters etc).
    The Boards would also need to specify that the dictionaries must be for exam use only as otherwise you'd have pupils bringing in dictionaries with notes written in them. Schools would not have enough in-tact dictionaries from classroom use, anyway, to give an identical one to each pupil.
    Dictionaries in exams also mean that many pupils who didn't learn the basic vocabulary etc would spend too much time looking things up and would not complete the paper.
    Then you have the issue of 'disadvantaging' those who don't understand alphabetical order except at the start of a word (and that's a lot of pupils these days!) and thus can't access dictionaries properly.
    If you do allow dictionaries, the mark system needs to penalise spelling errors heavily.
  15. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    I like the CIE IGCSE. No coursework. 25% for each skill. No dictionaries. Positive marking which demands accuracy. No English. Perfect.
  16. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Sounds a lot like the old O level examination, except that the Oral generated a maximum of 10% of the marks and there was a dictation element.
  17. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Why 25% for each skill? Are they all just as important?
  18. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    No positive marking in the O level - marks were taken off for mistakes.
  19. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Marks were also added back on for use of idiomatic expressions, correct preposition usage etc.
  20. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Have a look at some heads' profiles on linkedin for examples closer to home.

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