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Now that GCSE languages are

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by PierreImport, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. PierreImport

    PierreImport Administrator

    so easy, what are we supposed to do in all the lessons?
  2. sorry, are they now compulsory at ks4 across the land? this is a genuine question, or is the decision purely local?
    and is writing properly around 200 words without cheating, using all that is needed that easy really?
  3. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Established commenter

    Are MFLs easy or difficult?

    On the one hand I read posts and other articles about the SEVERE GRADING problem that makes it so hard to achieve good grades in modern languages, and makes SMTs want to dissuade students from taking languages at all and concentrate rather on subjects in which they can readily achieve top grades for the league tables.

    On the other hand I read rants from people bewailing the dumbing-down of languages, and claiming that nowadays anyone can get a good grade in a mfl by simply memorising a few spoon-fed sentences.

    Which is it? It can't be both.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I think the point is that <u>true</u> <u>l</u><u>anguage</u> <u>learning</u> is not easily acquired & rarely tested at GCSE level.
    However the ability to 'remember & reproduce certain language structures' is more easily acquired by certain students with certain language abilities & therefore 'end written exams' are 'easier' to acquire for those types of students.
    The learning element in languages of having to really learn large amounts of vocab & manipulate grammar rules, which is time-consuming & not easy is what makes language acquistion more difficult.
    Then rules which knock marks off for every 'new' mistake rather than 'continuous mistakes', which is part of the severe grading system (from what I understand, don't actually deal with exams myself) makes languages more difficult to pass exams with a 'good grade'.
    So I do think they can be easier & more difficult at one & the same time.
    Certainly the level of knowledge & grammar we had years ago at ')' level is far higher than today's GCSE!
  5. lol55

    lol55 New commenter

    Hi! I am in the process of applying for a PGCE in MFL. One of the points that has came out of my observations is how the GCSE syllabus has become primarily focused on "exam technique." Many boards are requiring numerous bits of written coursework in Year 10 as well as Year 11. This means a lot of the teachers I worked alongside and spoke to felt that straight from the beginning of KS4 they are having to focus on exam technique, rather than rebuilding that love for languages and ensuring the pupils are learning the language.
    I was therefore wondering if you therefore, feel that the love of language learning is disappearing from GCSE MFL? Is there more focus on which structures or linguistic rules will get a child through the exam that exploring the language and culture which brings about confidence and knowledge in a foreign language?
    Thanks :D
  6. You are 100% right. Unfortunately the imperative of teaching to the exam tends to lead to rote learning of chunks of language rather than teaching the rules of grammar.
  7. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Well, oddly, I think you can have both. True, testing methods have become less difficult for pupils, but severe grading remains in place. Pupils of the same ability do about 0.4 of a grade worse in MFL than in maths and English.
  8. Senior Management thought up the answer to that one a long time ago, Pierre.
    It is quite simple - all you do is drastically reduce contact time.
    Problem solved.
  9. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

  10. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    At least it makes us have a discussion about what should be in a school curriculum. French children learn history'geography until they are eighteen. Our kids can drop them at 14. So a debate on first principles is needed. The phrases "broad and balanced"and "selection from the culture" are ones I recall from teacher training days.
    I'm with Simon Jenkins on this. We over-value maths and science at the expense of humanities and, to some extent, languages.
    How often do 99% of us use our school maths beyond basic arithmetic, fractions and percentages?

    On your marks....
  11. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Statistics, data handling, logical thinking.. You'll find many many jobs require a good grasp of Maths. Agreed with regards to science. In Denmark children play with lego until they are 12 and then they start learning science - yet they manage to end up with some of the best engineers in Europe.
  12. hennapen

    hennapen New commenter

    I don't know - 3 to 4 times in an average life time (angles/areas mostly)?

    How many times would languages be useful (to your average non linguist)?
    probably every time they go on holiday and a few times in between - so not that much more essential really I imagin. However - how much more pleasure might you get from having a language to use if you wanted to? I can't really see the pleasure in being able to do some random maths problems in comparison with being able to communicate with other people, read foreign newspapers and novels, watch films etc. etc.
  13. I think the GCSE has become harder if you are only used to teaching your pupils to learn a piece of coursework to reproduce in exam conditions.
    I am new to this game. I spent my first year teaching with the hold GCSE and found myself teaching to pass speaking and writing exam. I then got a shock to the system the next year when the new GCSE came in and it was so much more difficult for my pupils. I realised I needed to relook at my teaching. I now teach the language. We do a lot of speaking work and grammar work. This has enabled them to feel confident coming up with ideas quickly and express them successfully. So far it is proving a hit. In the written exams they can formulate their own real responses rather than just writing down the structres they have learnt by heart.
    Probably some of you are thinking 'duh' that's how you should have always been teaching them. Well maybe but it's now how I was taught.......so I guess you just do what you know.

    Anyway the new GCSE has put the joy into languages teaching for me. Actually seeing pupils successfully use the language in different situations is brilliant.

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