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Difficulty of MFL exams harms take-up

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Bungie, May 11, 2019.

  1. Bungie

    Bungie New commenter

  2. faceman

    faceman New commenter

    I really hope that Ofqual takes some notice of this. I’m fed up with teaching the most difficult subject in every pupil’s timetable.
    agathamorse and madcatlady like this.
  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    If kids are going to do well in Languages, they need to put the time into it out of school. Those who score highly do precisely that.
    The perception of difficulty is also a reluctance to invest in this time and effort.
    We shouldn't as teachers be thinking we are teaching the hardest subject, because we aren't.
    Say and write some phrases. They repeat and copy them. Keep doing this again and again. When you know them, try replacing some bits with other bits.
    Stop making it difficult by dissecting the thing. Languages are not difficult. Although you can choose to make them difficult if you present them as such. Why though? No exam board actually requires a kid to sit there and explain the present perfect and cite all the exceptions to the rule too. You can choose to deliver in as abstract a way as you like, but the fact remains-repeating and copying are not intrinsically difficult things to master.

    But the effort out of school is apparently difficult. And that is what is out of our hands.
    A few hundred vocabulary items and three or four longer structures with some variation will get you a decent grade in languages. Like anything else, they will stick with enough repetition. Yet we work with many many children who do not retain even ten of these items, because between one lesson and the next they have not put the work in.
    Who makes this subject hard?
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
    madcatlady and pascuam49 like this.
  4. Bungie

    Bungie New commenter

    As a linguist, I didn't find the subject hard, but I did have to invest a huge amount of time at home - far more than for other subjects. However, a significant part of my role at the independent sixth form college where I work (50% of the week during the exam season) is invigilating exams in other subjects. Many papers in other subjects are a joke - it is often possible for an intelligent, well-read individual to answer them without ever having studied the subject, and this is certainly not the case in MFL.
  5. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Who knew ?!
    agathamorse and madcatlady like this.
  6. cake4tea

    cake4tea New commenter

    It's not helped by the content of the new GCSE. Most UK teenagers aren't interested in European festivals or healthy lifestyles.
    Incommunicado and agathamorse like this.
  7. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Occasional commenter

    Quite right, cake4tea. And including "The Environment"… recycling, pollution etc is enough to kill off most pupils' interest and enthusiasm.
    Add to that intimidating assessment tasks and you can see that a lot of the problems in MFL are inflicted by syllabus-drafters and examiners.

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