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Help! My school is 'phasing out' German.

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by musiclover1, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    I know this has happened in other schools but I'm specifically wanting to find out how I can stop this happening. Does anyone work in a school where German has been preserved, or where phasing out German has not had the positive financial benefits expected, so that I can use that to persuade my school to keep the subject? This is purely a financial decision, because GCSE and AS level set sizes have been small.
     
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I'm afraid with small class sizes, German is always going to attract the attention of schools where they're having to 'trim' the budget.
     
  3. I suppose the school will be left with only French and Spanish. Another school that offers nothing but Romance languages and provides no variety of linguistic diversity. I don't understand the fascination with Spanish. It's not even a popular holiday destination anymore. More people go to Turkey or Egypt. Turkish and Egyptian Arabic are much more interesting languages to learn.
     
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    If students want to do German (and judging by your question a month ago about teaching AS and A2 together they do), you can argue that if they go elsewhere to do it they will also take with them their custom from other subjects. I would also argue that a school that doesn't offer a breadth of curriculum, particularly in its post-16 provision, isn't very attractive.
     
  5. westnab

    westnab New commenter

    You need to tackle SLT's reasons for wanting to narrow its curriculum directly and specifically. Why are class sizes small? What is students' exposure to German like? For example, is it your second or third language which is offered to only a select few in the first place or do students receive only a taste in KS3? If so, then of course GCSE and A-level classes will be small. If it has equal chances with French/Spanish or whatever, then what's going wrong?
    In my school students only get 2hrs of MFL in KS3 (which is only Y7 & 8) so we are only able to offer one language to each student, but we divide the intake by three to keep all of French, German and Spanish available. We are a large school, so this isn't always feasible and recently we have been under attack for small GCSE cohorts, however the E-Bacc is helping us in this respect. We give Y6 a choice of language and German always comes out worst, but SLT accept this is due to the fact they have no reason to opt for German. If they've enjoyed French in primary school, they opt to continue, or if they've hated it and/or have been to Spain on holiday, they opt for Spanish. We do not guarantee they will get their choice and many don't. After a few weeks of Y7, we have shown many of those who have been put into German sets what a fantastic language it is through our own enthusiasm and any disappointment is mostly forgotten. Can you rejig KS3 to make it fairer?
    Our results are best in German and this is important to SLT. How do yours compare? They also realise education is not just about preparing students for holidays. It is about providing our country with what it needs: http://uk.pressking.com/press-releases/German-language-still-in-high-demand-in-the-UK-005148 There are many other reasons why German needs to stay on the curriculum - Germany is the largest trading partner for almost all European partners, it is an important language on the internet and Germany is the world's third largest industrial nation - just look at the Goethe Institut if you need facts and quotes.
    Judodan's point about Romance languages and nothing else is also very relevant. Why does your SLT want to restrict its students' experiences of MFL to just one family? German is far closer to English in terms of pronunciation and much basic vocabulary than Spanish and certainly French, so I find it a real hit with students of lower ability (cases and word order aside, obviously... ahem...) and it is also popular with boys, who enjoy its harsh masculine sounds! Disliking French does not mean you will dislike learning any language!
    Currently ofsted are all over the cultural, moral, social, etc... issues. It worries me if our children's only experience of Germany in schools is studying the Nazis in their history lessons. It is our duty to get rid of the ignorant racism which still exists in parts of our society.
     
  6. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    As I'm new to the school I don't know all the answers to your questions. All I know is that German has in the past had an equal chance, but take-up has been the lowest - I don't know why. 2 forms out of 6 study German from year 7, the other 4 forms get a choice between Latin, German and Spanish/French in year 8 - which means that in year 8 we currently have 2 small option beginner German groups of about 18 kids. There are 8 AS students at the moment, 28 in year 11 (in 2 option blocks), 28 in year 10, about 78 in Year 9 trying to decide which of their two languages to carry on to GCSE (some drop both) - and I think about 30-35 of those will opt for German.Unfortunately only 4 year 11students opted for AS next year.
    I think they want to drop the German because one of the German teachers is retiring and the other one (me) is on a one-year contract, whereas the Spanish and French teachers are all Heads of Department and well-established at the school. I think they've had staffing issues for a while with German, which has also affected uptake - there's a bit of a neglected feel about the department - e.g. no Head of German.
    The German results have always been good - better than French.
     
  7. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    As I'm new to the school I don't know all the answers to your questions. All I know is that German has in the past had an equal chance, but take-up has been the lowest - I don't know why. 2 forms out of 6 study German from year 7, the other 4 forms get a choice between Latin, German and Spanish/French in year 8 - which means that in year 8 we currently have 2 small option beginner German groups of about 18 kids. There are 8 AS students at the moment, 28 in year 11 (in 2 option blocks), 28 in year 10, about 78 in Year 9 trying to decide which of their two languages to carry on to GCSE (some drop both) - and I think about 30-35 of those will opt for German.Unfortunately only 4 year 11students opted for AS next year.
    I think they want to drop the German because one of the German teachers is retiring and the other one (me) is on a one-year contract, whereas the Spanish and French teachers are all Heads of Department and well-established at the school. I think they've had staffing issues for a while with German, which has also affected uptake - there's a bit of a neglected feel about the department - e.g. no Head of German.
    The German results have always been good - better than French.

     
  8. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I think you've just answered your own question.
    The numbers you quote show how four languages are competing with each other for equal space. The staffing issues reinforce this as your colleagues in Spanish and French colleagues can fight their corner. It really is dispiriting when a head of MFL isn't worthy of the name and simply lets this happen.
     
  9. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    I think they should have half of year 7 taking Spanish and half French, and then in Year 8 half of the year group could add Latin and half German. That way each language gets studied by 90 pupils, and each pupil gets to study either Spanish or French, and either Latin or German. And all the groups are groups of 30. But nobody asks me - of course. I have to now decide whether to stay at the school or go - I wonder how they'll go about finding a replacement for me if I do go.
     
  10. As a keen Germanist I do however have to point out that the decision may be one of staffing in the future. It is now very difficult to replace a Germanist as there are not many young teachers with German.
     
  11. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    I don't understand why German teachers would be difficult to find if other schools are also getting rid of German. I went to a PGCE day at the Goethe Institut last June, and lots of the teachers there hadn't managed to find jobs yet. And there are always all those German ladies who've married English men and then decided to become teachers here, are'nt there?
    I would have thought German teachers would be queuing up to teach in a school that still offers A-level German?
     
  12. Hi,
    I'm a German teacher (specialist single linguist) and I struggle to find work! Looking in the TES last week - the majority of jobs were for French and Spanish with the odd bit of German here and there.
    There are few just German jobs. I am based in the W.Midlands. I have a GCSE in french so i guess I should build upon and improve that.
    German has been dropped or sidelined from many schools. Spanish seems very en vogue. It's very "in". And perceived as easier than German.
    Pupils struggle with German and perceive it as difficult. And find the grammar difficult (word order especially), but I am half German and grew up in a German-speaking family so I do not find it difficult and I think it is a beautiful language.
    The insipid textbooks and nature of the GCSE exams do little to help matters. Most pupils learn German for five years and struggle to string a sentence together and a lot of teaching is geared towards the exam and this takes away much of the joy and fun of learning.
    It's a shame. I only wish I could find a German job but they are so far and few between.
     
  13. Bit that is the point. Most schools will require a good level of French from any candidate to be able to timetable them, even if they are teaching more German than French. In my experience you need to be able to offer at least GCSE French- and that means you should have it as part of your degree or you will not be taken seriously. Then a timetabler can put you anywhere on the timetable usually. There are very few candidates under 45 with these qualifications in my experience, although of course there are some, but a school will often just take the view that Spanish/French people are easier to replace and find.
     
  14. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    But they have a Germanist. All they need to do is make the one year contract permanent.
     
  15. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    They have me (and I'm not sure they like me that much), but they also have a part-timer who is retiring, so they do need to recruit a new teacher, whether they phase out German or not. I think that if they keep the German they'll be able to find good teachers, but if they phase out the German they'll really struggle, because who'd relocate for a school that's axing their subject? they'd need a French or Spanish specialist who can just teach German whilst it's being phased out - and THAT would be difficult to find, I think.
    We're down South, so no good for you, Ostpreussen.
    I'd like to stay and go part-time - and then they can recruit a full-time person to work alongside me. I can teach French up to GCSE, so that's no problem, but I don't teach Spanish.
     
  16. German is dying on it **** all over the UK. It's even going to be overtaken by Chinese in the next few years.
     
  17. @16. I'd agree about German dying, unfortunately, but we've been hearing about Chinese overtaking for at least 10 years and there's still little sign of this.
     
  18. rosered27

    rosered27 New commenter

    That is a very good point.... but where are they meant to come from when the subject is disappearing from the curriculum? Also, there are still quite a few myths about German as a language. English native speakers naturally have excellent receptive German skills - they just need to be activated by the teacher. Once the field of awareness has been opened, progression can continue incredibly fast indeed. Good luck in keeping German alive in your school! [​IMG]
     
  19. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I love the idea of Chinese taking over. So we have a country in which our lovable young rascals cannot cope with languages in their own alphabet with roughly the same concepts of time; so we'll find something harder and they'll queue up for it.
    A HT of my acquaintance tried this as one of his vanity projects about 10 years ago. It died a death.
     
  20. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Those pupils who do take German usually quite enjoy it. And it's important for English pupils to get over all those prejudices that still build up about Germany and the Germans, due to the two World Wars. And it's easy to build up links with Germany as a country and to go on day trips there. There are lots and lots of people in my area with German connections and German relatives - because we're in the South East, and because we're a former army base. All those people really want to learn German. All in all, it's a very convenient and useful language to learn. But I'm preaching to the converted there.
     

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