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Is anyone actually enjoying teaching MFL?

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

  1. mco45

    mco45 New commenter

    Hey listen: those who have one lesson a week german are the top sets who also have two lessons a week French. Because the lower sets don't do German they are 'forced to do 3 hours of French a week' - and believe me, that's hard!!!
     
  2. OK, so what's the problem motivating the top sets, then?
     
  3. mco45

    mco45 New commenter

    Well personally I blame the teacher.
     
  4. 'There's no such thing as a bad student'?

    Don't you believe it! Of course the teacher has to do his or her job, but in my opinion the students need to meet you at least half way.

    This is 'languages' we are talking about here.

    Anyway, on top of planning lessons, executing them and marking **** work you have to motivate the students too! The fact is that only people who like languages at school, or those who are really determoned to succeed at everything, will actually enjoy learning them. You can't manufacture motivation! That's what all the games and 'imagine if you were Schumacher, what would he do in this situation' is supposed to be about, but we all know it doesn't work...don't we?
     
  5. janemk

    janemk New commenter

    Can somebody motivate me, please? I've got work to do....
     
  6. mco45

    mco45 New commenter

    Yep. thank goodness I'm a geography teacher is all I can say!
     
  7. hey, its funny reding you lot bickering away! Anyway, what I want to know is why are you all teaching kids if they're so unmotivated? What about FE? Don't laugh if the answer is obvious, because I don't know! And I'm bothered because I want to teach MFL in FE and I don't know if I'm barking up the wrong tree myself. Without too much of my CV to bore you with, I've come back from years in Spain and France teaching TEFL and I've just started a BA in MFL (which is boring me to tears) and I don't know if it's worth it. What are the hurdles to teaching FE?
     
  8. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    **** pay, students that spend more time working to support their mobile phone bills than studying and a desperate lack of grammatical knowledge that makes progression in MFL problematic. The students arrive with their A*-C grades and think they're good at Languages even though they know diddly squat about Tenses and cannot operate in anything other than phrasebook mode. They soon find that there is a much bigger jump to AS level in MFL than in their other subjects and their French/Spanish/German is usually the first subject they drop.
     
  9. Hey Panama, don't know exactly what's going in the UK (judging by this forum I made a good decision to leave - all these abreviations are total MFL to me!) but I teach kids of 15 and over and really love it (at a technical college where they do BTEC or such like must be pretty similar to our level and I imagine they also do language studies). My kids have the lowest level of education possible, come from backgrounds of rape and incest, drink and drugs, don't know why they have to learn a foreign language when they have problems stringing a sentence together in their own language - but I have much more freedom to design the course as I want to (and no irritating inspectors) - it can't be that different in FE in the UK - we even have exchanges with a couple of FE colleges in the north of England and they don't find us so weird!
     
  10. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    But hedilla, as was pointed out in reply to your earlier post, it is great that your job is meaningful and going well, but you cannot seriously make a link between teaching French to English adolescents, and teaching English to Dutch adolescents. There is absolutely no comparison. English is the language they need to get jobs and play a part in the world outside Holland. English is cool (pop + cinema culture etc) - thus it has a relevance in their lives. For British youth, French and German are uncool and have marginal relevance to their lives. They can get along quite happily without them, in their eyes.
     
  11. Well, jubilee, you don't sound too happy with your lot. They think they're good at languages but know diddly squat...etc. Come on, are you in the classroom to teach them or to tell them how bad their level is, because it sounds like the latter. Not everyone can be brilliant linguists like us at the age of 17, you sound like the kind of teacher who could really demotivate a class. If they got decent grades at GCSE they probably like the subject, so don't go and screw it up for them. Go work somewhere else, and make room for those who can see something positive in youngsters. Work and studying are not mutually exclusive, either, and there's nothing wrong with having a part-time job. If it gets them out and away from their books for a while they're more likely to be well-balanced, a thirst for knowledge doesn't have to end at the covers of whatever grammar book you're ramming down their throats.
     
  12. panama!You know NOTHING!
     
  13. Did death by wordsearches today with Year 11. Bliss. 30 minutes of total silence - amazing how it makes them focus. I've given up even trying to motivate them - just try to contain them - only about 25 lessons left.
     
  14. Are you teaching in a tough school?
     
  15. rubyruby...was that question aimed at me?

    I think my school has the potential to be not rough at all!! But behaviour and attitude are so poor - and Year 11 motivation is below rock bottom - but something mindless like finding a few key words on a wordsearch actually calms them down - so they're not so in your face the whole time. Sad. Not "teaching" - and not "learning" either - but I'm on self-preservation mode at the moment - my sanity matters to me.
     
  16. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Panama-I did one of my Teaching Practices in a college and then covered a long term sickness absence in one. My opinions on the the general MFL abilities of post- GCSE students are widely held by teachers. I did not de-motivate students or belittle their GCSE grades but neither did I let them think that A level study was going to more of the same Communicative **** they'd just spent 5 years parrotting!

    The students themselves noticed when one student (out of a class of 18) was able to work independently (ie; didn't require ready prepared sentences). She had achieved an A* at GCSE through clear knowledge of the language because she had been taught Grammar; many of the others could give you a phrase in the first person singular but were clueless when asked to change it to "We ...".

    My comments about the students doing part time jobs were based on the fact that this was something that was really bothering the College. I had a Saturday job myself throughout most of my 6th Form education, so I'm not against students working per se. However, too many 16-19 yr old students today work excessive hours and unsocial shifts. Many give priority to their paid work and arrive at college late or leave early to fit in with their employers. Some may need the money because of being in low income families, but most have a carefree attitude to spending and regard their mobile phone bills as a necessity. They claim to 'need' £50 at least for night out!They arrive in college tired and lacking in concentration. They want Homework that is easy. MFL at this level, especially after the Mickey Mouse courses they have followed for GCSE, involves working hard at the language and putting in extra effort to acquire some basic grammar knowledge, at least. That is a step too far and the statistics prove it.One student gave up her MFL so that she would still be left with 4 A2's. She knew that to carry on with the MFL would require dropping 2 of her other subjects. Take up rates for mfl at A2 are low; drop out rates are high and University departments are closing. I don't think this can all be laid at my door! I worked in one college for a total of 20 weeks (some of it P/T).
     
  17. well, smoothnewt, it may not seem relevant to you - but I teach kids close to the German border who are basically in special education (only half a brain cell each) and are hoping to become assistants in a day care (ie they will be allowed to peel the apples and make the coffee). English is a subject they all detest in the way that French was (certainly in the days when I was teaching it - by the way I used to teach Dutch too in a comp. school). They have to learn English because the government says they need it. They can fail their entire course on their English whereas they can compensate other subjects with one higher grade weighing against a lower grade - so as you can see, such a "forced" situation is not appreciated and they have, lets face it, not use whatsover for English. Turkish, Maroccan, or German would be more useful. So when I compare my situation, okay, it is not in the UK any longer, but I am teaching MFL to kids who absolutely do not want to learn it! Everybody seems to think the Dutch are good at English and love learning it - what a load of cr+p! That is only the upper end of the educational scale, and mainly the ones who go abroad for their holidays. Before commenting on my situation in such a way you should perhaps dig a bit deeper into what life is really like over here.
     
  18. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Star commenter

    hedilla - i don't doubt for one moment the veracity of your experience in Holland, teaching English, but the fact remains that you cannot make a comparison between what you are doing, and teaching French / German in England (not sure about Scotland, Wales, N. ireland...)

    The original poster questioned whether teachers are enjoying mfl in, presumably as he / she is about to do a pgce, the UK. Which is not the same as teaching mfl in other countries. You admit yourself that you did not find happiness / fulfilment in your work in the UK so went abroad.

    You are quite right - I know nothing about Holland. I have never been there. Your students may well dislike learning English, but you cannot dispute the fact that the English language has a status second to none in the world. You have said yourself that the Government of Holland insists they pass their English test if they are to pass their exams overall. This must give English incredible standing in the curriculum, and even if your pupils do not like learning English, they must be aware of its importance to their ultimate success of failure in the education system. It is probably similar to the status of English and maths in the English system. All students know that however much they may dislike those subjects, they cannot ignore them, and really need to pass the exam, so they make the effort far more readily than they do for a mfl, by and large.

    However, given the insular mentality of the English, along with their long-standing suspicion of the French, and dislike of the Germans, coupled with their belief that the rest of the world speaks English anyway, and our Government's having made languages optional again at 14, languages teachers here have a fight on their hands which I still maintain is culturally aside from your experiences. But that is not to denigrate your experience per se.

    And I'd put money on your students listening to US / UK music, which will support your efforts to teach them.

    And I don't believe that there is anybody left in Holland over the summer. They're all clogging up the campsites of coastal Europe ;o)

     
  19. I'm only a lowly PGCE student of MFL, but I have been having a great time teaching German and French.
    In the beginning, most of the my year 9 class was made up of them trying to get out of learning French and me trying to persuade them that it is useful. In the end I gave up trying to argue with the ones who couldn't be bothered and just taught to the ones who were interested - about a third. it took 10 repetitions of I play football, I play rugby, I play... to get the whole class involved, but they all got so bored of me ignoring them and their moaning, that they had to join in. I think it is a tactic I might try in the future. Sometimes I think we can get bogged down with trying to coax / cajole the 'can't be bothered's' that we miss the 'would like to have a go if it weren't for the can't be bothereds s'.

    I did a lesson on Karneval today and got the kids to sing Cologne carneval songs - the kids thought I was mad, but they had a great time! Messed up my Scheme of work, but I think it's better to do that sort of stuff once in a while than plough on with 'My sister has green eyes and purple hair'

    With reference to the previous posts, I think a lot of the problem in the UK is, as smoothnewt said, the fact that we in the UK are so insular.
    The influence of music in our culture cannot be underestimated. In Germany, where I taught English for a year, then worked for 2 years, the charts were mainly English songs, but also Italian, French, Russian, Romanian and Turkish.
    A Swedish friend of mine learnt most of his English from song lyrics and imported TV shows, which were subtitled rather than dubbed (I think in Holland there are quite a few UK TV shows, which are not dubbed, but subtitled) and I think it is the exposure to foreign languages in mainstream culture which is the problem in the UK.

    That's all.

    PS It was my last day in my Placement A today, so I am quite sad, but we had a great time reading the TWALT stuff - why isn't that the first thing they teach you at college......?????????????
     
  20. this twalting's really catching on!
     

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