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Question for Hispanists

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by aspidistra, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. I have a Venezuelan student in year 9 (set 5/5) who wants to do GCSE next year:

    1) will her Spanish be dramatically different from the "standard" Spanish used in GCSE exam boards

    2) which exam board should she go for, given that she will not receive ANY tuition at school (she doesn't need it - her parents don't speak any English!)

    Thanks for your input

    Asp
     
  2. I have a Venezuelan student in year 9 (set 5/5) who wants to do GCSE next year:

    1) will her Spanish be dramatically different from the "standard" Spanish used in GCSE exam boards

    2) which exam board should she go for, given that she will not receive ANY tuition at school (she doesn't need it - her parents don't speak any English!)

    Thanks for your input

    Asp
     
  3. janemk

    janemk New commenter

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_Spanish#Dialectal...

    The bit about the use of vos was the biggest difference I rembered about Latin American Spanish in general, other than dialectical words. Wouldn't have thought her Spanish would be vastly different to the standard unless she's got a really dialectical version, not in ways that would make the exam difficult anyway. There maybe odd words that she doesn't understand, or she may use a slightly different syntax for some phrases but nothing dramatically different, unless some Venezuelan specialist knows otherwise!
     
  4. Thanks Jane.

    I did look at the exam websites to see if they made any reference to different forms of Spanish, but couldn't find anything.

    Asp
     
  5. Geekie

    Geekie New commenter

    My Spanish godfather's brother lives in Caracas, and I have met some of the family. Accent is of course the main difference, and there are significant vocabulary differences, just as there are between the English wot we speak and that of the US. I've found that South American Spanish speakers talk and write about foodstuffs that we have never heard of in English let alone Spanish - could prove interesting for marking coursework and speaking! There is the grammatical "vos" thing, but I don't remember that being too much of an issue.
     
  6. I'm not a Hispanist, just a wannabe. :) And on a tangent....

    Does Set 5/5 mean that your student is low ability, aspidistra? If so, I was just wondering how long she has been in England. i.e. what her literacy level is in Spanish.

    Since Spanish is phonetic, I assumed that my Spanish-speaking students (South American, to a man) would very easily be able to cope with written Spanish. They almost all tell me they can read and write in Spanish. I remember a student at my own school who arrived from Italy in about the third year and sailed through Italian O and A level.

    However, the Spanish teachers at school tell me that, in fact, the students at our school are NOT able to produce good written Spanish, because their literacy level generally is poor. We have Spanish for Native Speakers classes, as well as ordinary Spanish classes.
    I have no reason to doubt the word of my colleagues, most of whom are native speakers. But I don't quite understand why the writing is such a problem for them. Unless it's just a question of the level of writing required.

    I suppose that there isn't much in GCSE. So what about A level? What literacy level do those of you who are Hispanists think that a Spanish speaker would need in his own language, in order to be able to succeed in A level Spanish?

    I suggested to one of my fairly low-level French students, who si from El Salvador, that he take the SAT II in Spanish, to give him another ace in his college application pack. He is admittedly not a particularly cooperative students, but he said basically "No way!" He said "Our Spanish is very different form the Spanish they teach here" and implied that we would have no hope of passing the exam. I'm not so sure that he is right. But when I aksed my Head of Department about it, she seemed to agree with him!

    Bilingual students are a political hot potato in California. One faction believes students should be thrown in at the deep end and another that they should have half-and-half classes to make them literate in both languages. And people's views on the issue tend to depend onn their politics rather than any lingusitic beliefs.

    For years I have been very firmly in the "throw them in at the deep end" camp, from a purely linguistic point of view. But I respect my colleagues, one of whom is himself the son of what are termed "migrant workers" (agricultural workers who move back and forth between the States and Mexico, depending on the season) And I'm now beginning to wonder.....

    I don 't want to hijack aspidistra's thread. Should I start a new one? Only the politics of it all is less likely to affect the views of English MFL teachers, and so I'd be interested in your thoughts.

    Mattie
     
  7. Oh a correction... When I said that my students were all South American, I meant that they all spoke South-American Spanish. Lots of them are California born and bred!
     
  8. Geekie

    Geekie New commenter

    It's a very interesting point, Mattie, and I suppose a lot depends on the literacy level of the parents, how co-operative they are, whether the student has spent any significant time in the Spanish-speeaking country... I'm sure you could argue just as easily for both factions. There are some students who could cope quite easily with being thrown in the deep end, because they have the background of maybe some elementary schooling in the Spanish-speaking country and have supportive, literate parents, while there are others for whom this just wouldn't be suitable.

    We've never had a native Spanish-speaking pupil at our school, but we have managed to put a Punjabi speaker through GCSE. Her family speak Punjabi at home all the time, so the speaking and listening was no problem (she had to tell me when it said "end of examination" on the tape during the exam!) but she had to go to evening classes for the writing and reading despite the fact that her parents are educated people. She got an A*, but then she got A/A* in French and Spanish as well.
     
  9. janemk

    janemk New commenter

    That's a good point, actually - it will depend how good an education she has had in Spanish as to how well she copes with the writing aspect.
     
  10. Yes, this is the aspect that concerns me a bit - she is in bottom set because her literacy levels are low, but I'm never sure if that is just in English.

    The family came to the UK 2 years ago, so she should have learned to read and write in Spanish in primary school.

    I was planning to do the exam only option (as we don't have any Spanish knowledge i the school) and my guess is that she will do Foundation writing, but Higher in the other skills and bet herself a C or so (which is the only higher level pass she will get for all her exams!).

    Anyway - I've given her some specimen papers that I downloaded off the 'net, and we'll wait and see her response to those. Anyone got any suggestions as to which board would be best to enter her for? We use Edexcel for French and I used to examine for AQA French, but that was quite some time ago now!

    Asp
     
  11. ..and another one comes out of the woodwork!

    A girl in Year 9 set 1 (brilliant linguist - wants to be a French teacher!!) is learning Spanish independently (her mother, who speaks fluent Spanish, is helping her) wants to do GCSE Spanish next year.

    I am confident that this girl will score highly with zero input from school. Would anyone be prepared to lend me some past papers (Edexcel ideally) for her to look at - you'll get them back!

    Many thanks

    Asp
     
  12. The best idea here is to check the kind of spanish is used in the tests and use a spanish pictionary to standarized the vocavulary from the venezuelan words to the ones used in the tests.
     
  13. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    So you have two students that want to take spanish at GCSE. One that's an excellent linguist and by the sound of it would be interested in other cultures and one that is poor at english (and by the sound of it)but wants to be more engaged with her home language. Which exam board and which variety of the same language should be the least of your worries. Encourage a relationship!
     
  14. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    oops, missed a bit. Ignore the last post.

    So you have two students that want to take spanish at GCSE. One that's an excellent linguist and by the sound of it would be interested in other cultures and one that is poor at english (and by the sound of it lacks confidence)but wants to be more engaged with her home language. Which exam board and which variety of the same language should be the least of your worries. Encourage a relationship
     
  15. between those 2? Not in a million years!! One is a shallow bully who is despised by most of her year group an dteh other is one of the nicest girls I have ever met! They know each other, of course, but are not friends and never will be friends.
     
  16. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    She can't be that nice if she'll never ever be friends with a despised girl with a bullying problem.
    Let's ban all the thick lazy ugly unpleasant kids from schools. And ban foreign languages too. Save them from themselves.
     
  17. Geekie

    Geekie New commenter

    What a strange remark kemevez.

    I would be up in arms if a teacher tried to make my beautiful daughter be friends with a girl who is a bully. No easier way to put her off studying for an early GCSE surely, than to make her feel intimidated and scared by another pupil.
     
  18. smoothnewt

    smoothnewt Lead commenter

    I'm guessing the brilliant top set student who wants to be a French teacher is not the bully. Am I right?

    So, if the bully is the Venezuelan girl, I would, objectively, have some sympathy for her, personally speaking. If she has only been here two years, and presumably knew no English on arrival, she must have had a steep learning curve. Maybe her behaviour masks a deep sense of insecurity, even inferiority, with regard to her actual status amongst her peers - being an outsider - for which she is trying to compensate, albeit in an inappropriate way. Has the school endeavoured to support her in any way? It is possible that she could gain in self-esteem from her strength in Spanish. It is also possible that the two girls could find a common point of reference through their study of the language. No-one is saying they have to be best friends, but they may benefit mutually form some kind of learning partnership.

    I may be entirely wrong with my stab in the dark, but it seems quite damning to be writing her off without giving it a go.
     
  19. I don't really want to go into the individual characters of these 2 girls - suffice it to say that they are not and will never be friends. You may surmise all you like about their motivations and will probably not be correct.

    My questions were:

    a) is Venezuelan Spanish significantly different enough to European Spanish to create an obstacle at GCSE

    b) if these girls are studying independently for the exam, is there any particular exam board which you would think better than others?

    c) is anyone prepared to lend me some past papers for the girls to look at? They have seen the free downloads off the exam boards' websites.

    Asp

     
  20. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Well you went into their individual characteristics from the off. We made "assumptions" (which were fairly general in my opinion) and suggestions based on this. And we are trying to help not to second guess.

    Anyway,

    a)no

    b)don't know

    c)you could contact the exam boards and explain and ask for a few copies of past papers. Depends on who answers the phone/opens the email but they can be
    accomodating from time to time.

    Geekie, I'm not suggesting you send them to the offy and then the park to get wasted. Just that there is an obvious potential for them to learn together and from each other and for one to do for the other what the teachers can't.
     

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