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Do students prefer Spanish over German if given a choice

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by slick, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. slick

    slick New commenter

    Hi. Was HOD of MFL until last term and currently students study French in Year 7 and the more able students study German in Year 8. We have purchased all the material until end Year 11 and have GCSE Germnan now going alongside French. The new HOD wants to begin Spanish as a second language (for able students) and have some doing German as the second language and some Spanish.
    Concerns-
    I feel that students would prefer Spanish and all would want to study it. Is this true? How do other schools manage the choice of MFL?
    Cost of purchasing material for Spanish
    Numbers at GCSE are declining and we could end up with 5 in German, 5 in Spanish and 10 in French.... beter to have bigger groups rather than risk not running any GCSE MFL
    Is Spanish easier? The boys tend to enjoy the German (I know stereotype...).
    Am I worrying unnecessarily.
    I have advised new HOD to run a twilight session to gauge interest and then to make informed decision for Sept 2008
     
  2. slick

    slick New commenter

    Hi. Was HOD of MFL until last term and currently students study French in Year 7 and the more able students study German in Year 8. We have purchased all the material until end Year 11 and have GCSE Germnan now going alongside French. The new HOD wants to begin Spanish as a second language (for able students) and have some doing German as the second language and some Spanish.
    Concerns-
    I feel that students would prefer Spanish and all would want to study it. Is this true? How do other schools manage the choice of MFL?
    Cost of purchasing material for Spanish
    Numbers at GCSE are declining and we could end up with 5 in German, 5 in Spanish and 10 in French.... beter to have bigger groups rather than risk not running any GCSE MFL
    Is Spanish easier? The boys tend to enjoy the German (I know stereotype...).
    Am I worrying unnecessarily.
    I have advised new HOD to run a twilight session to gauge interest and then to make informed decision for Sept 2008
     
  3. In our school we started offering a choice five years ago. There is now no German at all. It has been completely phased out now (following the retirement of one of the German specialists, who has not been replaced.) As a Germanist, I am very sad to see it disappearing everywhere.It also means I am having to teach my non-specialist subject (French) full-time now!
     
  4. In my opinion students do claim to enjoy Spanish more, though I speak as a teacher at a school where Spanish is not even offered so my view is probably not the best. We study a language not dissimilar to Spanish, however the children just don't see any relevance whereas they tend to holiday in Spain and associate Spain and Spanish with fun and fiestas!
    The simple fact that they holiday there as opposed to say Germany makes the language seem all the more worthwhile. Having said that, I also taught in another school which offered French, German and Spanish and again pupils tended to prefer Spanish. The way in which my colleague taught it (lots of I/A activities, songs, games and food-tastings) meant that children were engaged. On the other hand, German lessons were not as singing and dancing but were deemed to be more logical and to that end, children enjoyed the logic behind the lessons. I suppose it depends very much on the cohort of pupils you have - if you have a high proportion of (not such academic) girls who are into latin pop and partying they would most likely opt for Spanish, whereas if you have a group of say mainly intellectual boys or boys/girls with engineering aspirations German may hold more appeal.
    Certainly pupils in the early stages of their studies appear to enjoy Spanish and this can change in Year 9 when grammar etc. becomes more challenging.
    Just my view. Giadstro.
     
  5. slick

    slick New commenter

    The school is a mixed secondary modern!
     
  6. Slick, both of my experiences refer to mixed Secondary schools. However I have certain boy-heavy groups and others with mainly girls. Being a teacher of Romance languages I tend to have more success teaching them to classes with a higher female proprtion.
    Hope this helps.
    Giadstro
     
  7. I don't understand schools that offer Spanish and French. -

    If a pupil can't do French then they won't be able to do Spanish - romance langs have similar structure and pronunciation.

    German is more akin to English in terms of Sprachtempo, pronunciation and intonation.

    So long live French and German in our schools.

     
  8. I agree with the last poster's point. Many pupils do indeed have to study French and Spanish and subsequently struggle with both. On the other hand more-able pupils would relish the challenge of 2 "different" languages such as German and French. Strange I am saying this as I don't teach or even know German! Even more-able pupils could cope with an even more difficult language such as Russian or Mandarin, but I guess now I'm going off topic!
     
  9. We have French from Yr 7 and then a choice of Spanish/German from Yr 8 as well. We have seen a 50/50 split between German and Spanish take-up since we introduced taster sessions of both languages at the end of Yr 7. (Previously Spanish always got more, for the reasons mentioned above.)

    In your situation, where you are offering German to the more able, I would suggest that you consider offering Spanish as second language to the less able or even instead of French for the lower ability group. Spanish has a reputation for being easier than French, certainly amongst pupils anyway. I think it would be a shame to split your German class up, especially as German is dwindling in the uk and able pupils seem to love it.
     
  10. Thinking back to my own school days at an all-boys grammar school, most of us hated French, but it was compulsory, as we were expected to apply for university entrance and an O-Level in a foreign language was a university entrance requirement in those days. I have read a number of publications that report on research that claims that French turns boys off foreign languages.

    Spanish was not on offer, but German was from Year 8 or Year 9 onwards as a second language. I chose to start German in Year 9 because it sounded like a more masculine language, appeared to be more difficult than French and, as a gifted linguist, I relished the challenge.

    I guess that in these days of mass travel, Spanish may be perceived as a useful language for holiday purposes. I followed a BBC course in Spanish years ago, found the language relatively easy compared to German, but hardly ever got round to using it on holidays in Spain as everyone in tourist areas (the costas and Mallorca) spoke English.

    To digress a little, I recall a TV programme some years ago in which British tourists returning from package holidays in the sun were interviewed. 10% could not state which country they had visited!
     
  11. Geekie

    Geekie New commenter

    "If a pupil can't do French then they won't be able to do Spanish - romance langs have similar structure and pronunciation."

    Er... really ?
    French pronunciation: loads of silent letters, mysterious vowel combinations, nasal sounds...
    Spanish pronunciation: WYSIWYG to a large extent.

    We are in our 3rd year now of Spanish only with Band 2 and SEN. It has been much more successful than French. For example. Y7 very special needs class. Have been practising numbers up to 10 and 4 classroom objects. Hold up 2 rulers and a girl with extreme special needs can say "dos reglas" perfectly with no prompting and not having been introduced to the pattern before. Never happened in French. Silent -s puts them off plurals before you've even started.
     
  12. Good point Geekie. Not having taught Spanish at Year 7 level I did not have this experience, but it certainly makes sense. On the other hand I do teach Year 7 French and the difficult pronunciation re: plurals is already affecting some of the least-able in my group.
     
  13. I suppose most people regard Spanish as a more useful language than German as Spanish is a genuine world language spoken across the Americas. The holiday aspect influences people too, plus very few in Spain can converse in English once you step outside the tourist hot-spots.

    Then again, German is hardly a worthless language. They have the biggest economy in the EU and German is still something of a lingua franca in Eastern Europe, even in these days of widespread English usage. Plus, a knowledge of German is essential in Eastern Germany as you certainly cannot rely on English in these parts.

     
  14. Well I went to a Catholic comprehensive in London from 1980-1986 where French and Spanish were the languages offered, never German. Believe me, Spanish was never seen as the 'soft' option, especially for street-wise London teenagers. (In fact, 'taking a chance' verbally, in a foreign language was a big enough deal!) Spanish should be offered in all forward-thinking schools, but that's just my opinion!
     
  15. It's great to see that old age preconceptions still abound and are doing well:

    Well I never...

    - German is only for the clever ones
    - Spanish is only popular because of Benidorm
    - Spanish is just badly spoken French
    - French and german is the superior combination
    - Spanish is a threat to German
    - Spanish is popular because of fiestas

    All of the above are implied from the posts in this topic alone. Is this the year 2007? Sometimes I wonder...

    Mister DRH, Sie sollten sich nicht so viele Sorgen machen. Machen Sie eine Pause und denken Sie: wir sollten zusammen arbeiten, um Fremdsprachen zu befördern! Meiner Meinung nach ist Spanisch nicht das Problem! Vielleicht bin ich falsch...

    Am I the only teacher in the world who is happy teaching Spanish and German?
     
  16. Whilst not directly answering the original question, I would not dream of introducing a third language in a secondary modern school, presuming that taking two languages is not compulsory at KS4. As soon as you have three languages being optional in KS4, your group size quickly declines to a point where it's not viable. Once KS4 is lost, unless you're incredibly lucky, it's only a year or two before the second language in KS3 disappears.
    If your HoD is wanting to introduce Spanish, how about doing so as a first (or second) language in alternate yr. 7s? Less able children seem to be more positive about German and Spanish than French. It's tradition and parental expectation that has kept French going for so long!
    As for the cost of introducing a new language - ouch.
     
  17. HI I am wondering how things havce progressed and what lessons you have learnt since your post in 2007? tgh@bsc.biblio.net
     
  18. well now.
    Figures at GCSE show increase in Spanish, and decreases in numbers taking French and German. German, so many would have us believe, is fast on the way out. As someone with a degree in both French and German I find this so sad
    At my son's school German was introduced as a second foreign language in Y8 for the more able, this year for the first time Spanish is being offered as well. Numbers wanting to do Spanish vastly exceeded those wanting to do German, so apparently some who chose Spanish will end up doing German anyway. My son chose Spanish, I don't think this was some kind of early teenage rebellion, he says he just thought he'd enjoy it more.
    My eldest child is now doing French and Spanish at uni, he did German to AS early, picked up Spanish in the 6th form and decided he preferred it.
    I did some Spanish at school as an extra in the 6th form and subsequently did Italian in night-class not long after I started my career. I much preferred the Italian. It is only recently that I have got back into Spanish again - and I fear part of my motivation is actually the fact that I think competence in Spanish is going to make all the difference on my cv, and possibly even safeguard my position in my own school.
    Just some observations. Would be interested to know how other people see things at the moment - we've already had threads earlier in the summer which showed that quite a few people thought improving their Spanish would also improve their long-term career prospects.
     
  19. Geekie - thank you for saying that! I support you completely.

    Firstly, I think we need to consider geography and technology in the changes that have taken place. Previously, France was considered to tbe the holiday destination of choice of those who would venture abroad as it was relatively easy to get to before budget airlines and the like. Now we need to bear in mind that these changes in aviation have made Spain a very popular tourist destination, and rendering the language more popular with young people who see a real use for the langauge. French is still percieved (IMHO) as useful as we are neighbours to France, and it is recognised that it is spoken worldwide, however, German's popularity has decreased and seems to be seen, as everyone here keeps saying, as a 'masculine' subject, with more boys and in my experience it tends to attract more scientists/mathematicians at A Level (in my school) than the other languages which attracts the humanities more.
    Secondly, pronunciation is a key factor. For most pupils, experiencing Spanish after one year of French, Spanish IS easier, more pronouncable and grammar rules are not as uncomprehensible as they perhaps were when they were first introduced in the context of French (ie. masc/fem, adjectival agreements etc).
    In my school, German has decreased, Spanish has increased and we offer French as the main first language. If I had my way, Spanish would be the main one though ;-)
     
  20. But that is just personal preference. :)
     

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