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Confused with transition stage AQA A level languages

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by kheironsister, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. kheironsister

    kheironsister New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    I am newly qualified and used to teach Spanish at beginner level.

    This is the first year I will be teaching A level Spanish (AQA) and I feel a bit lost with regards to the "transition stage" (where students are supposed to review the grammar and gain new grammar skills, for 6 weeks, in order to move from GCSE towards the new A level stage, from week 7).

    I have planned several grammar-based activities for this phase, including a grammar review booklet, brief translation exercises, a weekly writing practice, and other fun activities like Kahoot, board games and songs to work on the verb tenses... as well as essay writing and speaking activities, with new expressions, to gain more fluency and self- confidence; all of it, tailored to the themes and sub-themes on the A level specification.

    However, I am finding this phase quite confusing. I am struggling to find resources aimed at that level of knowledge, as all I seem to find online is aimed at either GCSE or AS/A level, but not at "something in between to just briefly introduce the topics and review the grammar".

    So far, I have 4 weeks worth of lessons planned ahead and I just don´t know what else to cover without going too far on each topic, or how to stretch my students´grammar without covering too much and overwhelming them - or not covering enough and keep them at GCSE level-.
    I am worried I am going to be teaching too much or too little .

    Can any A level language teacher who has gone through this phase shed some light on this, please?

    Thanks in advance
  2. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    Don't be frightened to get stuck into the topics and hit grammar at the same time. And also tailor it to fit the students. Y12s can have quite different levels! Is this transition phase something your school does?
    kheironsister likes this.
  3. kheironsister

    kheironsister New commenter

    Thank you for your reply, Veverett.

    This transition phase is mentioned on the AQA scheme of work (which I´m using until I have more experience). This transition phase is described as an "Intensive grammar programme linked to thematic content". What confuses me is that it sounds like I´m supposed to review and explain a lot of new grammar during weeks 1-6 and tailor it to the themes of the specification..., but those grammar and topics will be covered again in the future, after week 7. Won´t that make students bored, having to go through the same topics again?
  4. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    I understand. Sounds as if you are already questioning this part of the AQA scheme of work, so already time to start moving away from it slowly. Once you meet your students you will see what they need individually in terms of grammar already covered. Did they do GCSE by learning answers off by heart, or can they already use knowledge of grammar to speak/write spontaneously? What is their accuracy like? What tenses have they covered? What new grammar do you think they need at A Level? Once you meet your students this will become clearer. It is a good idea to make sure they are secure with grammar from the start and a nice idea to whizz through a variety of topics while you do so. Don't think it needs to last 6 weeks!
    pascuam49 likes this.
  5. ChocolateChunk

    ChocolateChunk New commenter

    First of all, you will have to bear in mind that your students will find it tough because the level will increase significantly: the grammar is tougher to grasp and manipulate, audio and visual texts get a lot more challenging, the Stimulus Card demands a clear knowledge of Spanish culture and they need to be able to write down an essay in the Target Language.
    They will have to understand that the A-Level requires a lot more independent work and that they need to organise notes for everything they cover.
    For instance, I have found out that it works well asking students to prepare mind maps on a topic with key words / figures, key facts and typical questions that they would face for the Stimulus Cards. Ask them to do the same thing when you cover the movie: what is the plot? who are the characters? what are the main themes and what evidence can you submit for each from the movie?
    You still need to be monitoring their homework as they are still young students. Some find it harder to adjust to Post-16 as they now have more freedom than when they were in KS4.

    Secondly, as veverette says, you cannot plan too much ahead as you need to target it also based on their ability. Maintain the grammar points and plan ahead, it is always good to have an idea about the year ahead but don't do too much as you need to adjust. Make sure that you know the Specs in and out, and read the Examiner's Report as well. There is also a lot of information available on the secure part of AQA - available to the HoD and Exam Officer. You will still differentiate to your students anyway and offer a myriad of activities so that is a good way to keep it paced too.
    Your HoD or HoS should assist you with this because a SoW is not sufficient at all if this is new to you. What have they said and advised in that regards?

    I would also suggest that you pick the movie and the text based on the resources that you have access to, especially if it is your first year. If there is a movie that you know really well, pick it. Students do not get higher grades for 'fancy' texts which themes deal with philosophy or obscure literary trends.
    Many books and movies have textbooks which analyse the main themes, the main characters, give you some background too.
    Knowing the text in and out is the first thing that they need to absorb before even thinking of essays.

    Make sure that you speak Spanish as much as you can - if not for the entire lesson, even when it is get perilous with grammar. Make them speak a lot too as the Discussion during the Stimulus Card demands a certain fluency to cope with unprepared questions, same thing with the IRP. They could work in pairs during the Stimulus Card and you will be able to monitor and assist everone.

    Finally, they should have a Mock Exam this year but I would suggest doing mini-Speaking Mocks and perhaps even an IRP based on the topic that they study.

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