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Improving listening and reading at GCSE

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by noemie, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I am still reeling from marking the GCSE mocks. OK, so it was a hard paper (AQA June 2011 if you must know) but it doesn't take away from the fact most of my students should have got their C grade, and most of them got below said magic C grade. I am not keen on after-school revision sessions (at least not until after Easter) so how do I ensure that students take these exams seriously and make the appropriate progress? All I can think of for now is a tough regime of death by vocab test. Anything else?
    Answers on a postcard.
    Forgot to say, they did equally c**p in the Higher and Foundation - they did H first then F, but still somehow didn't manage to understand "moustache" or "lunettes". Kill me now, please!
     
  2. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    It's 'death by past paper' time now, isn't it? How much difference do the reading and listening papers still make, now that CAs are 60% of the marks? If they get C, C, D, D (the Ds in Listening and Reading), don't they score C overall?
     
  3. I have found the AQA online progress tests motivating and good for vocab revision, but there isn't much control and you need to be able to trust them to take the exercises seriously eg. they can access 'feedback' before they've done the questions and thereby get the answers without doing any work. So no change there then.
    I won't do after -school revision sessions at this stage either, experience teaches me that they and I both get fed up far too soon.
    I think that the new exams are a sort of glorified vocab test crossed with the 11+ and the ability to read the examiners' minds, so vocab tests - topic by depressing topic - seem appropriate if dull.
    PS
    Our mock results were equally dire and have reduced the A level uptake. I assume that's what AQA wanted?
     
  4. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Our GermanListening mock results were ok, but reading results were at least a grade lower than expected.
     
  5. matador

    matador New commenter

    The whole new GCSE seems to be rather more academic in many ways, which ultimately I am finding makes for dull teaching - the level of language required to score highly on CA s seems to have to be quite advanced whereas a few years ago an average student who could use a few different tenses and had a reasonable level of conversational or writing vocab with accurate spelling would have made a comfortable grade C - the listening and reading tests ( particularly reading) seemed to be designed to trip students up deliberately and see how easily students fall into traps set for them - the texts seem to be quite stilted and very advanced for GCSE in some cases more towards AS level type reading - All this at a time when we are trying to encourage language uptake. Thought foundation French was ok yesterday but higher not particularly comfortable for many kids hopefully UMS will reflect this
     
  6. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go at how hard the papers are. It's more the realisation that my bottom set (in a grammar school, so average pupils) are only memorising things long enough to regurgitate them in their controlled assessment and then feel that it's mission accomplished. I'm not necessarily looking for sympathy, just for ideas to get the b*ggers to do the work (particularly where listening skills are concerned - somehow I can't see that group listening to French radio stations for pleasure!)
     
  7. matador

    matador New commenter

    well you may not be having a go at how hard the papers are but I am
     
  8. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Hi Noémie - we dealt with this same issue (lower sets at a grammar school) to some extent by designing booklets with gap fill and other task types for listening and reading. They are all based on Encore Tricolore 4, though. They are on frenchteacher.net in the y10-11 section. They didn't take ages to do. You could do something similar with whatever coursebook you have.
    The booklet format with scores on each page added some motivation. One test type which worked well was giving pupils a list of 20 words, only ten of which were in the extract. Leads to careful listening.
    That said, I have found that the raw/UMS conversions make Higher Tier more feasible now. I entered fewer last year for Foundation and will do the same this year. Previously, I was entering at least 20 for Foundation Listening. Last year, about 7 or 8.
     
  9. LadyPsyche

    LadyPsyche New commenter

    Interesting! We're entering more for foundation than previously. Normally it'd be one or two, but this year we have about 6. Could be our intake? Small school. But this is a smaller than average year group for us, and we have trebled our foundation numbers. Our results last summer showed that CA really was having a massive effect on pupils' listening skills - having them in non-active lessons for 2 weeks at a time, when normally listening would be part of every lesson, had really taken its toll - that and the move to mid May, rather than early June (prime practice-paper time in years gone by). In answer to the original question...Over the summer I bought some podcasts that can be downloaded onto ipods, or uploaded onto the school's intranet. The idea is that we can set listening for homework, and the pupils can access them whenever they want. They're from ZigZag, and although they sound as if they were recorded in a baked bean tin, they cover lots of vocab, and it's a young native speaker that they hear.
     
  10. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    I've got a Y10 group who, if they are to be believed, learnt absolutely nothing between Y7 and now. I know this isn't the case, because I taught some of them lower down the school and they were pretty good, but at some point they've decided either that French isn't important or that they're rubbish at it anyway so there's no point bothering. The main issue is their lack of vocab, both topic-specific and the useful words & phrases they need for controlled assessments (connectives etc), so I've started a new system of having a weekly vocab test on key words that I give them and also setting a homework of choosing a vocab topic from a list I've given them (right from the basics - days of the week and suchlike) and going online to find out some of the key words for that topic. I'm being very strict with them about this - they have to keep a record each week of the topic they chose, what they did to practise the vocab and also what they did to learn the words I gave them, and why this worked well/didn't work well for them. On Vocab Test Day I prowl around the class doing spot checks on whether they actually know the words from the topic they've chosen or whether they've just spent 2 minutes copying them down and can't remember them at all, and it's starting to sink in that it's not a good idea to turn up without having done the learning (they outdid themselves in the first week, when not a single one of them had done what I'd asked. This has not happened again since [​IMG]). I'm hoping that before long they might actually see that I'm not kidding when I tell them that this will help them do well in exams and assessments so I don't feel like such a slavedriver!
    I've uploaded all the materials for this into the resources section, if you click on my name it should be one of the first things listed. Good luck!
     
  11. rosaespagnola, your hard work with the reading questions organisedby topic and H/F has been invaluable. I tend to copy (without the questions) a passage and ask students to research the text at home - no problems if they use google translate (at least the're typing French). When they come in the next lesson they get a clean copy of the same text (not allowed to refer to annotated one done at home) and I then reveal several questions. I mark them myself as it's quick. If they've prepared they do well. Scores of lower than say 60-70 % means that hw is deemed not to have been completed and parents contacted.
    Next thing to try is something similar with the transcript of a listening task set as hw.

     
  12. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    I'm really glad they've been useful, and that's a really interesting way you have of getting them to prepare a text for homework and then answer questions in class. Definitely an ingenious way to get around the problem of them just using a translation site to answer the questions at home! I can see it working really well using the transcript of a listening task as well, I'll be trying that at some point. Might start with my very motivated and lovely Y9s to see how it works with them and iron out any problems before I roll it out with the Y10s!
     
  13. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Last year we found that, having got CAs out of the way by Easter we could focus more on vocab building and comprehension practice.
     
  14. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Yes, that was also my strategy, but this year we have some weak/lazy pupils and 2 months of vocab revising and past papers won't be enough.
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions, it's good to know I'm not the only one struggling with this!
     
  15. LadyPsyche

    LadyPsyche New commenter

    That would be nice (2 months after Easter for revision/vocab/comprehension etc), but now that the exams are early/mid-May for French, in reality we have about 3 weeks - just not enough. (Made worse admittedly by the large majority of my year 10 early-French group being on a field trip for the duration of the week immediately preceding the exams.)
     
  16. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    Given that CAs are out of the way(not sure that this will be true in a lot of schools) by February's end, we focus on skills and high frequency words for revision. It is unsurprising to find that awrding bodies set similar style questions using similar key words so it makes sense to practise both these things ad nauseam. Admittedly vocabulary has to be covered and remembered by students but this has always been the case and most do a fair job. I have told all of my own students that there will always be something they don't remember, have never encountered or that they cannot work out in context, but I try to stress the positives. Every time we see a word which I think is important it goes on a big flip chart in my room with its meaning and we turn the flip chart as a starter to every lesson at this time of the year. I vary the chart for listening and reading and have some pretty simple words on the listening chart(e.g. theatre appears in Frenchsimply because they have difficulty hearing this word as the word for theatre in English- clearly it is known and would never appear on the chart for reading). I am also happy when a key word(e.g. sauf in French) appears in any practice testsas this is, say, often a way of focusing students on Positive, Negative, Positive/negative type questions. After a time, words are removed from the chart as they are known by the class.
     
  17. I have found the listening material from Revilo very good and bought the whole set for KS3,4 and 5.
    I am finding that my listening scores do not tally with the reading and are way down. I have put up old past papers in a shared area for students to access with mark schemes and with transcripts. Hopefully some will do it , but I also found that the German listening last year was so late and followed so many other exams that even the good kids said they had little time to practise after such a long period on study leave,
     
  18. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

  19. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter


    <u>Improving listening and reading at GCSE- ideas from TES forum January 2011</u> 1. a tough regime of death by vocab test- a weekly vocab test on key words that you give them.
    2. AQA online progress tests are motivating and good for vocab revision, but there isn't much control and you need to be able to trust them to take the exercises seriously eg. they can access 'feedback' before they've done the questions and thereby get the answers without doing any work.
    3. design booklets with gap fill and other task types for listening and reading. There are some based on Encore Tricolore 4 on frenchteacher.net in the y10-11 section.
    4. give pupils a list of 20 words, only ten of which were in the listening extract. Leads to careful listening.
    5. Buy some podcasts that can be downloaded onto ipods, or uploaded onto the school's intranet. The idea is that we can set listening for homework, and the pupils can access them whenever they want. they cover lots of vocab, and it's a young native speaker that they hear.
    6. set a homework of choosing a vocab topic from a list you've given them (right from the basics - days of the week and suchlike) and go online to find out some of the key words for that topic. Be very strict with them about this - they have to keep a record each week of the topic they chose, what they did to practise the vocab and also what they did to learn the words you give them, and why this worked well/didn't work well for them. On Vocab Test Day prowl around the class doing spot checks on whether they actually know the words from the topic they've chosen or whether they've just spent 2 minutes copying them down and can't remember them at all
    7. use the resource of compiled exam questions per topic
    8. Using the resource of compiled exam questions per topic, copy (without the questions) a passage and ask students to research the text at home - no problems if they use google translate (at least the're typing French). When they come in the next lesson they get a clean copy of the same text (not allowed to refer to annotated one done at home). hen reveal several questions. Mark them yourself as it's quick. If they've prepared they do well. Scores of lower than say 60-70 % means that hw is deemed not to have been completed and parents contacted.
    9. something similar with the transcript of a listening task set as hw
    10. focus on skills and high frequency words for revision
    11. Every time you see a word which you think is important, put it on a big flip chart in the room with its meaning- then turn the flip chart as a starter to every lesson at this time of the year. Vary the chart for listening and reading and have some pretty simple words on the listening chart(e.g. theatre appears in French simply because they have difficulty hearing this word as the word for theatre in English- clearly it is known and would never appear on the chart for reading).
    12. When a key word(e.g. sauf in French) appears in any practice tests, seize it as a way of focusing students on Positive, Negative, Positive/negative type questions. After a time, words are removed from the chart as they are known by the class.
    13. put up old past papers in a shared area for students to access with mark schemes and with transcripts.



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  20. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    I hope nobody minds- I copied and pasted your ideas and put them into a document.
     

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