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MFL GCSE orals

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by anon1061, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. I apologise if this has already been done, have spent a good while searching the forum but haven't found an exact response to my concerns.

    I am a trainee MFL teacher and adoring every minute, however I have increasingly grave concerns as to the fit of this career to me, the more I learn of our exam system.

    With regard to GCSE orals, I am horrified to be told in my formal training that kids need to be given fully corrected passages to memorise and spout off in the oral exam. Moreover, that if they spout it off too quickly, it's game over as if their time is under 4 minutes they are assured a low mark.

    I have gone into this career because I adore languages and what I believe they offer kids. However if my job will be to drill kids to pass an exam at the expense of any real understanding or love of the language itself, it and I will simply not get on.

    Just hugely interested to hear established MFL teachers' views on this subject. What fulfils you in your job? Do you feel you are turning out linguists, or GCSE manipulators?

    My tutor just tells me to suck it up, being able to memorise text is a good skill to have, and I'm not going to change it so I just need to get on with it.
  2. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Students are not meant to be given fully corrected passages to memorise. That is malpractice, though I daresay it goes on. Nevertheless the current assessment does involve memorising short paragraphs which the student will have written following a sequence of lessons. During these lessons students will have had work corrected.My experience is that students usually then write their own material, adapting it from corrected work.
    The system is bad though and invites abuse.The system was set up with good intentions, but Ofqual and the exam boards did not successfully foresee where it would lead.
    I have always seen formal GCSE assessment as a a hurdle to be overcome, but not the main point of teaching a language. Don't let it put you off. One thing is certain, no one assessment system sticks around for more than a few years.If you teach well you students will do well at external exams.
    If you enjoy discussing these matters I suggest you join the mflresources forum and visit this forum ona regular basis. It is a useful form of professional development. Twitter can be good too.
  3. spsmith45 what a great, thorough and uplifting response. Thank you. I shall do as you advise. By the mflresources forum, is this a forum external to this site? Also could you give me any good names to follow on Twitter? You are correct, discussing these things is part of the job I am sure I will enjoy, and will help me enormously in my career. Thank you again.
  4. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I second Steve's opinion. We had that conversation the other day with my top set Y11 (all of whom want to do A-level French, woohoo!), and they were saying how they disliked this examination system and how unnatural a conversation it was. I said that the rest of the time I taught them properly, with interesting topics and lesson content and that they learned grammar properly, that all of their writing was their own and so if they decided to reuse it in their assessment then there were worse things that they could do. Jumping through the exam hoop is a bit of a pain, but you can still teach properly, so long as your aim isn't to reach such and such grade, but rather to give students that passion for languages that will spur them on to A-level and university, where they will express themselves fluently.
  5. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    The problem as I see it does not really affect the most able, especially if you are not over-concerned about their receiving A* grades, but does affect the middle to less able students. I have abandoned trying to get these students to memorise chunks of language as they cannot really do it and make a mess of trying to do so and also they are unable to produce chunks of correct language. So, I have gone back to trying to get them to answer a large number of questions on a topic by adding 1 or 2 details to their initial response. Even this can cause errors to occur but that is life. In addition, they produce something reasonable without launching into a pre-prepared thesis on last weekend's leoisure activities for example or the pros and cons of school uniform.
    In my opinion, it is better all round.

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