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Compulsory Languages

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by redtulip, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. My school have decided that all top set pupils will do GCSE MFL in yr 9 and then be allowed to opt to resit it in yr 10 and 11. We have just been told this and have one term to do 4 controlled assessments. Is this possible? Following this, won't our pupils want to drop languages rather than do the whole thing again? I am at a loss as to how to deal with this, the reasoning behind it is to improve our league table performance.
  2. A classic example of certification taking priority over education. Me thinks
  3. So if there are any kids who do well in Year 9 and decide not to resit, do they have the option to do AS or something in Year 10 or do they just not do languages anymore? Even if they did AS, the gap from GCSE is huge enough already, let alone for kids who have only properly studied the language for 2 years! I completely agree with you about the others probably not bothering to resit as well. Schools are so stuipid sometimes! With all the fuss about budget cuts at the moment, surely it's going to cost them loads to pay for all these extra GCSE entries? If they really want a qualification for Year 9s, surely there are better options?
  4. Is this possible? In a word- NO! This will leave you barely any time for real teaching which they will still need if they are so young still. And it will turn them off completely if they end up spending half of their lessons in exam conditions preparing for CA.
  5. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Bonkers! How many hours per week do you teach in year 9? Any school I know that have fast tracked have begun in year 8 and they have three hours per week. Perhaps you could negotiate more time in the curriculum. But with controlled assessments I think it is impossible to do it all in one year.
  6. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I don't know your particular circumstances, but bonkers sounds about right to me.
  7. Bonkers is the right word. A couple of weeks preparation, a week to get them done. When do you get to teach? And more to the point, when do the students get to learn?
  8. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Are your SLT largely Humanities teachers (or similar?)
    Having to explain how language aquisition works to a certain type of SLT is both boring and monotonous yet sadly necessary. I utterly sympathise and hope you get through before the car crash happens (which they will no doubt hold you accountable for if they can get away with it)
  9. I agree, only linguists appear to understand the slow process of SLA. ESOL students are better informed about the number of hours required to prepare for a particular examination. See the University of Cambridge ESOL exam board's FAQs:
    This tells you that around 350-400 guided learning hours are required to reach CEF Level B1 = Preliminary English Test, which corresponds to Higher GCSE. More on the CEF levels and how many guided learning hours are required to reach each level can be found here in Section 2.2 of Module 4.1 at the ICT4LT site:
    The guided learning hours recommended by the CEF are based on many years of research, dating back to the 1970s.
    When I was at school I had around 600 class-contact hours of French before taking my O-Level examination (in 1958). But it was a much tougher examination than the GCSE.
  10. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Absolutely right, Graham. Don't you hate those adverts which say: "Learn a language in six weeks." They should be pursued under the Trades Description Act.
  11. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    The post above yours mentions 350 - 400 hours. Half a day learning a language, everyday for six weeks is a total of approxiamately that amount (8.5 hours per day multiplied by 6 weeks = 357 hours).

    So it looks like it is possible assuming one is dedicated. I do not suggest this for school children obviously, but it does mean your claims about the "Trades Description Act" [sic] were wide of the mark.
  12. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    as are you in your pursuit of MFL teachers. Welcome back to our area.
    You got that History teaching yet?[​IMG]
  13. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    I didn't realise that you spoke for everyone.
    Yes. I already said that. Perhaps you missed it.
    Looking forward to it.

  14. It's not just a question of counting hours. Language courses are best delivered at the rate of around one hour per day over a long period. In my experience highly intensive courses don't work - unless they are immediately followed up by a period of residence in a country where the language is spoken. I taught ab initio German on the Applied Language Studies (ALS) degree course at Ealing College in the 1980s, a measure that was undertaken because the supply of students with two good MFL A-Levels had dried up - the ALS degree was a dual language degree. All the students had an A-Level in another language, mainly French or Spanish.
    We delivered 12 hours of tuition in German per week over a teaching year of 25 weeks = 300 hours. This was immediately followed up with a 3-week residential course in Germany delivered by the Goethe Institute. When the students entered their second year they were just about able to keep pace with students who had entered the college with an A-Level in German, and they continued to get additional tuition of 2-3 hours per week, supplemented by self-access materials in the multimedia language centre. Year 3 was spent abroad - six months in the country where their first FL was spoken and six months in the country where their second FL was spoken. By the end of Year 4 the ab initio students had caught up with those who entered the college with A-Levels - and a few were considerably better.
    We also delivered 3-week intensive courses to business people - six hours per day, five days a week = 90 hours. Few people could stand the pace. I remember one poor guy whose firm was about to post him to Moscow. His firm thought that three weeks would be ample to get him up to scratch in Russian and to be able to act as a sales rep for them in Moscow. The Russian staff did their best and the businessman tried very hard to get to grips with Russian, but he was simply not a good linguist. I asked one member of the Russian staff how he had got on during the three-week course. "Well," he replied, "he won't get lost on the Metro and he will be able to buy a ticket for the Bolshoi Ballet."
    We were also a member of a consortium of four HE institutions that designed the training materials ("En train de parler") for Eurostar staff. The train drivers, for example, received 600 class-contact hours in French over a period of 20 weeks - not consecutive weeks, however. The last three weeks were spent at the SNCF training centre in Lille, where they were lodged with French families. This was sufficient to get them up to operational efficiency in French.

  15. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Yes, you did. But you also said this the same day on the opinion forum the 13 Dec at 17.59, which was a saturday.
    So unless you called your HT on Saturday night or Sunday to ask him if you could teach a history class, I may suspect that you were teling porky pies.
    I've got a herniated disc and can't move, which is why I'm spending too much time on TES online at the moment.
    As a music teacher with aspirations to teach History, you seem to spend a lot of time on the MFL forums trying to pick fights. What's your excuse?

  16. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I believe it's called trolling, though I haven't seen enough of Mr Bronson's posts to say whether he is guilty of it.
  17. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Well perhaps you should. You honestly believe I am a troll - with 1500 posts?!
  18. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    I spoke to him at a school event (festival) on the Sunday.
    Why do I enjoy talking about teaching? Perhaps because I am a teacher.

  19. Getting back to the question, this is what we're doing: the top 25 of last year's Year 8 pupils were invited to do a short course in Spanish (reading & writing) in Year 9. They had been studying both French and Spanish in Years 7 & 8. Some decided not to take this up, and those who did, were fully committed to working hard. They have just completed their first CA, and are all on track for grade C or above. The differences to your school's idea are a), planning / deciding in advance rather than half way through, b) giving pupils and parents a choice as to whether or not to take up this opportunity, and c) realistic expectations (short course, lower grades). The result should be that many pupils end up with a grade higher than C in their 1/2 GCSE.

    In Year 10, these pupils will have several options: pick up French from where they left off in Year 8; take the listening & speaking in Spanish over one or two years, in after school sessions (through flexible teaching, not 'languages club' arrangement), do both languages, or, so long as they have their C and are backed by sound career plans, to drop MFL to pick up something else. As for early A level - they're just too young.
  20. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Some pupils at my Son's school do AS level in year 11 (they have 3 year KS4). I'm not sure what their results are like.

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