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How to qualify as a German teacher?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by lancsHOD, May 7, 2011.

  1. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    My niece is in her second year of a History and Politics degree and has now decided she really wants to be a German teacher! She did AS German but didn't take it through to A' Level (she had good reasons for this at the time). I think she has a good aptitude for German and is really enthusiastic about teaching it.
    She has searched around and can't really work out what to do, she has considered transferring universities to get the german content she needs. I am not really sure of her options but can anyone advise, she is aware it may take her a few years to qualify, do you know of her best route?
  2. I'm not absolutely sure about that, but if she managed to get the Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (which certifies near-native competence of the language), she would certainly speak the language as well as anybody who did a degree.
  3. You don't need your degree to be necessarily in the language(s) of your PGCE. You just need to prove you can speak the language(s) when at interview. My degree is in Arabic, but I was accepted to do my PGCE my French, German and Russian. I don't even have a GCSE in Russian. I just studied it myself. If you can prove you speak, read, write and understand it to the required level, then you should be fine.
  4. "I was accepted to do my PGCE in French..."*
  5. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    That's the problem here though, isn't it? This person hasn't done any German studying since AS level, and that's not going to be enough. I agree that a year abroad would be the best way of gaining fluency - Erasmus is good, or a year as a foreign language assistant would be good too. I did both, they each have their advantages and drawbacks.
    She also needs to be aware that having just German to offer will make her very unemployable. Particularly, as Lara has pointed out, with German. Not impossible, but very difficult.
    How does she know she's like to be a teacher? Has she done work placements in schools? If not then I'd suggest she does that (or volunteer to help out at her local secondary school), to get a really good feel for teaching before re-routing in such a drastic way.
  6. This is probavly as close as you will get to a definitive answer, as I am the subject leader on a PGCE course. She will need to hold a degree in MFL (preferably German with French - she must be able to offer more than just German because there is so little of it taught in schools), or a degree in which <u>at least</u> 180 CATS points are in German (preferably more - and see note above re French) or be a native speaker, or demonstrate how she has attained near native-speaker language proficiency (e.g. by living in a German-speaking country for many years). Without one of these, I would not even invite her for an interview for a PGCE place. The idea that she could qualify to teach another subject then somehow manage to teach German on tha basis of having done AS is ludicrous. A headteacher who allowed this would be totally unprofessional, in my opinion. Don't forget that Mr Gove intends to raise the bar for entry to teacher training to not just a degree, but at least a 2:2 by 2012, and a 2:1 later. This is because he is worried about the low subject knowledge level amongst some teachers - and rightly so. I wouldn't want poorly qualified people with dodgy language skills teaching a MFL to my children!
  7. I am sure that we can all agree with that. However MFL teachers are often persuaded to teach languages of which they have scant knowledge regardless of the effect on students.

    I have been in that situation myself. Willingness to teach a language at KS3, can be translated into a middle set GCSE group. The timetable is blamed. I have has PGCE students told that they have to teach French by their tutor and who really can't. They then get jobs which involve teaching French permanently. Schools where the MFL dept are told we are all teaching Spanish next year and everyone goes away and takes GCSE in a year. I could go on.
    I imagine a lot of this will be seen from September 2011.
  8. I always view C1 level being the appropriate level of competence to be able to teach a particular language. This is equivalent to undergraduate-level knowledge according to some sources. I think heads should look for this level of competence before allowing a teacher to teach a particular language, especially if it is to be to GCSE-level or above, otherwise one's competency of idiomatic language is probably not enough. Being told to acquire a GCSE in order to be able to teach a particular language is ludicrous, as GCSE, especially these days, is extremely narrow in terms of vocabulary breadth, so would make the teacher less competent in terms of his or her production. I wouldn't even feel confident teaching a language unless I were at B2 level at least. B2 level is probably sufficient to teach to a particular language at Key Stage 3 level.
    As I have mentioned previously, having a qualification in a particular language is not always necessary if one can prove one has the required linguistic competence. This is why I think it is good that PGCE-providers accept applicants who can prove they are at a high-level in a language, despite not having a degree in it. Often it is easy to "get through" a particular qualification with a near than perfect competence, so I feel it is better an individual's competence is judged directly, i.e. through an interview in a particular language, or an unseen written task or translation, rather than by the possession of qualification. Heads who allow teachers to teach a language just because they have gained a GCSE need to reassess this policy.
    In the case of the individual in question, whether or not she has AS-level, she most definitely needs to develop her competence in German to a much higher level, most preferably through extended residence abroad. As well as that, as a few have mentioned, the acquiring of an additional language, again preferably through residence abroad, is crucial for job prospects.
  9. I think that the fact that many heads do allow this, speaks volumes about the expectations they have of student achievement in MFL.
    To teach a language well, you have to be able to be sufficiently confident to cope in that language spontaneously. I am often amused that asking for a few classroom phrases on this forum will get be thought to be sufficient to get round that one. You also have to have a feel and I think love of that language. You need to understand the culure(s) where it is spoken. You also need to keep up to date to maintain fluency and just to generally know what is going on in the lives of those who speak the language. Then that love and enthusiasm can be communicated to students who will hopefully in turn catch the enthusiasm and love.
    I am afraid that much of this is too often missing. If you want an example of this look at how MFL has been rolled out in primary schools. I know that there are some super PMFL teachers who are doing a remarkable job. However I suspect that it is the rather dubious holder of a GCSE in French who is performing the task. Probably lacking the necessary confidence and I hate to say it but maybe also the skill.
  10. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    If she went abroad for a year, to study at a German/Austrian university and got a diploma in German at the Goethe-Institut would that be enough, she knows she needs to gain more experience speaking German she doesn't know how to get it!

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