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Introducing a second language in 6th form

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by OTTER, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. I think that you should do some market research. If you find that the majority of potential students would have GCSE french I would offer Italian to A2.
    Competent linguists who have studied French should acquire Italian quite quickly. I would do this because studying a subject to AS over 2 years would appeal to very few I imagine. I think that most potential students would feel that they were no getting enough bang for their bucks if all they have to show for 2 years study is an AS.
    By all means introduce Italian from year 9 as well and work up your numbers.
  2. buttongirl

    buttongirl New commenter

    Thanks for your thoughts on the matter, OTTER. You're quite right that I should do some research. We have an evening to market our subjects for 6th form to our current Year 11s in a fortnight's time. I'll have to see what the reaction is there.
    We are quite a small school, but even so, the numbers for GCSE French are small (only 8 in the current Year 11, and 6 in Year 10) which is why I am thinking that chances are that those who dropped French in Year 9 might feature more heavily than those who chose to study it. Although I could be completely wrong on that one - they might not be interested at all! I am new to the school this year so I don't know many of those in Year 11 (apart from my GCSE group) or what their feelings are towards languages. Hopefully I’ll have a clearer idea after the options evening.
    I agree that introducing it in Year 9 seems a better choice but the reason that it might be tricky to fit into the timetable is that we are a Welsh-medium school and so years 7-9 (well, 7-11 really) have 7 lessons a fortnight in Welsh, along with all the other standard subjects you would find in an English-medium school. Also, I don't want to put any other staff's noses out of joint by turning up and within a year taking timetabling time from their subject in order to introduce mine! :-/ I might feel more confident making a request on that in a year or two! How have other schools timetabled introducing a new language in Year 9? (We currently have 4 x 50 mins/fortnight for French.) Would it be better to offer it as a GCSE from scratch in Year 10 maybe?
    Thanks again for taking the time to answer, OTTER.
  3. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I taught almost a term at a 6th Form college in 2001 where Spanish ab initio was on offer for the first time.
    The idea was that with 5 x 1hr lessons per week, the students would do a GCSE (Writing exam rather than Coursework option) at the end of the first year and then those who chose to would complete the A level by the end of Yr 13.
    The permanent postholder had a track record for getting pupils an A-C at GCSE in one year, with stringent grammar work that set them up for continued study.
    However, the college decided that from the beginning of that school year, candidates with a D (even a low D) at GCSE in another language (usually French) were to be accepted on the course. The strain of teaching ab initio Spanish to mixed groups of students, some of whom had an A in French or German , took its toll and the teacher had a breakdown and ended up taking early retirement. She foresaw that results would plummet and her record over 20+ yrs of teaching there would be tarnished.
    I was placed there by an agency and realised what a hopeless task it was when trying to fast-track the pupils through the Present tense so that we could get onto the Imperfect, the perfect , the Future and the Conditional.
    "Why does Spanish have tenses, and so many different types, when no other language has them?" said one of the weaker pupils who had done 5 years of a different language, and a lifetime of doing English, without being aware of verb tenses!
    The pupils would definitely need 1 lesson per day and you should restrict the opportunity to those who have some linguistic competence.
  4. Completely agree with this. In order to do this you need students with linguistic competence. If they ahve not done an MFL to GCSE this won't work. However I would include Welsh (as a second language) in that.
    I am afraid on such small numbers this maybe a bit of an uphill task. Perhaps you should concentrate on introducing Italian to year 9. Do you live in a part of Wales with an Italian community? If so you could build on this.
  5. bristolmover

    bristolmover New commenter

    I learnt Spanish ab initio at my 6th form by joining an AS class and going to 2 extra hours of GCSE per week - definitely found it v easy as competent in French.
    Then I taught ab initio Spanish at my last school. It was offered as evening class - one year of 2 hours per week and they all got a GCSE at the end. They were not necessarily linguists, just interested.
    I love teaching at a faster pace and find it really motivates most students.
    I'd say GCSE then AS across 2 years is definitely achieveable but you may not need so many hours for the GCSE?

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