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Is anyone actually enjoying teaching MFL?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by ard, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. ard


    I have been logging on for the last 3 months and would love to hear from those of you who DO enjoy teaching. I have been accepted to start my PGCE in September and am so excited. As a mature student I am going in to this with my eyes as wide open as possible. I know that if there was a web site for my industry we would all be on there having a good moan. I am so excited about finally getting on the courseand getting in the classroom that I would love to hear your positive comments instead of reading abut all the stress etc.
  2. ard


    I have been logging on for the last 3 months and would love to hear from those of you who DO enjoy teaching. I have been accepted to start my PGCE in September and am so excited. As a mature student I am going in to this with my eyes as wide open as possible. I know that if there was a web site for my industry we would all be on there having a good moan. I am so excited about finally getting on the courseand getting in the classroom that I would love to hear your positive comments instead of reading abut all the stress etc.
  3. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I guess that you don't want to hear from me then....
  4. mco45

    mco45 New commenter

    I wish you all the best and I'm sure that, as a mature student with your eyes wide open you will do fine and that you'll find many people on this site who enjoy teaching languages. I do sometimes, when the pupils are well behaved and keen. But that's about three or four hours out of a twenty five hour week. After twenty years of this all I can say is that I'm really enjoying teaching the geography they gave me this year to fill in the gaps in my timetable from lack of pupils opting for MFL. I've gone right off MFL lessons.
    laloca likes this.
  5. In answer to your question, I enjoy teaching MFL!
    I work in a tough secondary school where we alternate French and Spanish through the year groups. French is very poorly received but Spanish is loved by one and all. Although my kids do mess about, I am assured that they are the same in all other subjects and MFL is no different. Roughly half of my kids through years 7-9 show enthusiasm for the subject and the others just muddle through and get their work done. I suppose the most important thing though, is that I enjoy teaching the subject, and am glad I made the right career choice.
  6. I like it, and derive a lot of satisfaction from the Y10 group I have that opted to do the subject, and who work really hard and 'get it'.

    But I hate the whole false-praise thing that MFL teachers seem to feel obliged to do. All the leaping around, thumbs in the air and a maniacal grin, sweating like a racehorse.

    When I think about the nobby games I had to do all the time as a PGCE student I really cringe!
  7. Yes. I love it.

    I too trained in the "leap about making an idiot of yourself instead of speaking a word of English" manner and did that for 6 years before taking a "career break" to have children.

    Now I'm back at it, giving grammar lessons and vocab tests as well as using wordsearches to improve spelling, songs to encourage an attempt at pronunciation and tv to vary the listening.

    I couldn't go back to the old way - which is most likely what the PGCE will ask for - but love it the way I'm doing it, and I'm please to report that approx 50% of my pupils (predominantly year 7 I admit) say they "love" French.
  8. The fact you are excited is a good sign. I think motivation and enthusiasm play a big part in teaching. It can be tough - there is many a day where I work so hard for the kids' lessons and get insults, rudeness and a total lack of interest as a reward for my efforts.
    On the other hand, I like the fact that the job is so demanding and that I have the ability to make a real difference to people's lives when I do my job well. Not everyone could hack it though.
    I am not planning to work full time as an MFL teacher next year...I don't feel normal any more. My friends' lives are not dominated by their jobs; they can go out on weekdays for example, while i have to sit in worrying about how the hell I am going to get my totally uninterested Y 11s to pass their GCSE French.
    Teaching is a vocation, not just a job, but that makes it more worthwhile and rewarding in some ways.
  9. I left the UK because I didn't like the way the government kept changing the system without consulting with the schools. Anyway, I'm now teaching at a school in The Netherlands - no longer teaching French but have now moved to English - I love it! The kids are tough, most of them have the sort of backgrounds you see in horror movies (no kidding, there's not a "normal" kid among them), they have big mouths, bad language but hearts of gold. They hate learning and are very practical - it's so easy to adapt my methods to suit them and we now have such fun at school you wouldn't belive it and their grades are constantly going up. So chin up, teaching languages can be fun when you get the right school (it took me 3 other schools over here before I found "Mr Right").
  10. mco45

    mco45 New commenter

    That's great for you hedilla and I'm dead envious! Especially as you seem to be 'making a difference' to those with bad backgrounds. But...you're teaching them ENGLISH which,we all know is the most important language in the world and particularly so in places like the Netherlands. Now, teaching French to a similar type of boy in the Northwest who'll never venture south of Manchester and to whom France and French will never come..
  11. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    Teaching French to KS3 children can be an absolute joy! It's the best job in the world when they are really up for it. I've got a great year 7 class this year who will enjoy grammar as much as songs / games. We had a great lesson last week when we spent the whole lesson working on the verb "avoir" - all persons - including translation into English, and translation into French for homework. We finished up by singing Happy Birthday in French to a boy whose birthday it was, and everyone left happy.

    The problem is, as mco so rightly says, that so much of what we do is behaviour management, pure and simple, which can easily get in the way of your enjoyment and true job satisfaction. Over 60% of my timetable is KS4, end 80% of that time spent with them involves behaviour management. (Only the bottom 25% of the ability range can opt out of mfl where I teach).
    The success you have with your behaviour management will be largely dependent upon the whole school ethos, and the systems for sanctions that are in place. It can be very hit or miss. I had great support last week from colleagues when a year 10 boy who had been playing up missed a detention with me. His tutor came down like a ton of bricks and said if he didn't sort it out fast he'd double the length for him, and the deputy Head of Year took him out of the next lesson, at my request, as I said I didn't want the boy in my lesson calling the tune, and wouldn't have him back until he'd done his punishment. You know a missed detention is no big deal in the global scheme of things, but it really brought home to the class that they are fighting their tutor and HoY if they play up, and not just me.
    In schools where that kind of support is lacking, teachers can and do struggle on day in day out fighting their own losing battles.

    What I'm saying is that choose your school carefully. Enthusiasm and commitment are qualities that every teacher starts out with, but in too many schools conditions are such that they shrivel up and die.

  12. I'm only a term into GTP MFL, and I have to say 'no'. I am confused, as my colleagues seem to think that this is normal, that your training year should be hell, getting 6 hours sleep a night, feeling nauseous with anxiety as you spend hours preparing lesson plans which will subsequently be criticised at length, walking the tightrope between the kids and colleagues, neither of who regard you as a proper teacher. If your subject knowledge is shaky from years of disuse, or you're not a confident person, then this goes counter to everything we hear about mental & physical health and the work/life balance.

    Yesterday morning I taught a yr 7 PSHE class on self-esteem, and realised how much effort I put into encouraging my kids to have positive expectations, yet this doesn't seem to apply to us - spent the evening reading through critical observations of 2 lessons by a colleague which are mostly crosses and exclamation marks (no real idea of how to improve the lessons, though). The fact that I am being observed by native speakers in my weaker language makes me unbearably anxious. Being the only man in an all-female department doesn't help, as I am excluded from most discussions.

    I tell the kids to feel good about themselves, and yet I leave work every day feeling I am a useless and can't speak French. The irony is, I'm experienced as an FLA and as an LSA, have a good rapport with the kids, work in a nice suburban school, and on the one day where my timetable is just pastoral work, and assisting, I love it to bits.

    Am I doomed to fail as a teacher?
    Is teaching MFL hell anyway?
    Am I just not getting on with my colleagues?

    Apologies for the rant - am just very stressed. I spent 5 years studying MFL at a good univeristy, graduated top of my year, but right now I just want to finish the year, get QTS and bail out of MFL for good :(
  13. Don't worry! The PGCE year is hell, but also I don't want to disillusion you, but teaching, generally, really is sh1te and none of the obnoxious chavs you teach want to learn anything you have to offer, especially modern languages! You just have to focus on the money and find ways to fill the day. NOW, I have invented a whoel new philosophy to teaching languages called TWALT but I can't remember the link off the top of my head....anyone?
  14. janemk

    janemk New commenter

  15. janemk

    janemk New commenter

    Charlie, I felt much the same during my PGCE year, (including being observed teaching French which I did not even have a GCSE in by a native speaker!) with the result that I did bail after it even though I was quite good by the end. I disappeared to teach English abroad, but after 6 years am now coming back to MFL and am determined to stay for at least two years before I decide if it's still for me or not. Most people reckon it is very hard for everyone for the first couple of years, so I don't think you can decide or say you're doomed to be a failure after one term! In fact as I recall, I was on the verge of leaving after my first term, thinking the same thing. But it got better. As you say, there are lots of factors that contribute to how you feel. I improved significantly when I got out of my first school cos it was a hellhole. And of course constant negative observations destroy your confidence. But they don't last forever either.
    I'll tell you in 2 years whether I'm enjoying teaching MFL or not!
  16. Londo,
    your TWALT site is class. Laughed off my seat.
    Thanks to you and janemk for your support.

    I suppose my main gripe is that if it was PGCE I would at least have some classmates, tutors, something. As a GTP trainee, I am the only MFL trainee in the LEA, with no access to a library/resource centre. The only people I can ask for help - my colleagues - happen to be the very people who recommend whether I pas or fail....

    I have an assignment to write and Monday's classes to plan in the next 28 hours and I am crawling the walls with worry, but it is a relief to hear there's light at the end of the tunnel...
  17. janemk

    janemk New commenter

    Well there are loads of people on here who will help. I wish this site had been around when I did my training (although I'd probably have done no work whatsoever because I am ADDICTED to it!)

    But yes, accept that it's supposed to be hard at the beginning! If it's still as hard after a few years, then make your decision.
  18. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I think that, at the very least,the first week's lessons of a GTP or PGCE Placement should be model (perfect!) lessons prepared by the HOD or other experienced teacher who is teaching comparable classes themselves. The trainee teacher then only has to worry about the delivery and can better absorb how much work is appropriate for the lesson / required degree of difficulty etc.
  19. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    Charlie - I'm just appalled at the situation you have outlined above! This sounds like the GTP programme at its very worst.

    I'm trying to think of some advice to give, but I think you really must try to seek out some support at the school you are working in. I suspect you are going to have to be really proactive / pushy here to get what you should be being given of right.

    Firstly, as Jubilee says, you ought to have access to other teachers to be able to obvserve and learn from them. With no PGCE training, how are you to be expected to teach effectively if you have no solid role models?! How much observation and guidance have you done / been given so far?

    Is there a school in your area that has been awarded Language College status? If so I should arrange a day / half day observation there, as the mfl dept should be very strong and engaged in support / outreach work to an extent. If you are based in the SE get back to me, as I would recommend two such schools.

    In your own school who is your mentor? They should be acting upon your behalf to get you the support and guidance you need. If that person is being no help, go to the HoD, and if that is no good, go to the member of SMT / SLT that line manages your dept. Tell them what you have told us regarding the lack of support you are getting within the dept. What kind of set up is it where an untrained student gets fed to the lions and then told "I told you so!", which is in effect what your colleagues are doing to you in not giving constructive advice or feedback from their observations.

    I can't believe the bit about the boxes full of crosses and tuts, but no discussion / advice / observation of effective teaching suggested as a way forward. This is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! I've acted as a mentor sufficiently to be outraged on your behalf. What I'm concluding is that the teachers you are lumbered with are maybe lacking in confidence themselves to the point that they do not wish to expose their weaknesses to you by letting you observe them / giving you sound pointers as to what a good teacher is / allowing you to develop the skills you need to succeed. Am I right here?

    This school is clearly not geared up to the GTP programme. This is evident in the fact that you are its only student and there is not even any library available to you, let alone any human support. How on earth did you get placed there? Complain to the body that placed you there before some other unfortunate takes your place next year! But in the meantime start a fight for what is your right in this school where the dept so clearly sucks!!

    PS _ Start pushing on Monday morning and feed back your progress on Mon eve. Even if it's just one small step you - and I - will feel better!

  20. Lots of sympathy for Charlie Bedlam, the PGCE was absolute hell and the first 2 years of teaching MFL nearly as bad, despite being in a good school. So I left and did some other stuff. But am now French co-ordinator at primary level and this is a totally different experience. I would recommend that anyone disillusioned in secondary research primary options - great for your confidence and helps bring back a love of the language. Good luck Charlie.

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