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retention of pupils

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by france1938, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. france1938

    france1938 New commenter

    Hi guys

    I am teaching the whole school at the moment in our school at we have only 2 year groups. I am currently struggling with y 8 as they had only one lesson of French last year so I have 3 lessons with them this year. I find the top set is doing quite well and are able to learn tenses by rote and switch from one tense to the other but the other classes ie set 2 and 3 are driving me mad as I find that they know it when we cover it and then 2 weeks later it is all gone as they don't revise outside of class. I am actually wondering if they are capable of retaining all these verbs. It is not something they are used to doing in other subjects and I realise now they are not going to cope with GCSE French. SLT is then replying that they are a level 6 in English therefore have the ability. I have tried many times to explain that I need another member of staff for more intervention and that I need to refuse some of these kids on the GCSE course as I know they won't cope.
    Do you find you have the same issues with tenses retention? Any useful comments would be useful
  2. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I agree that retention is a big problem with lower/middle ability groups. I find in class they can cope with a lot of the same content as more able pupils, the main difference is that they remember less of it.

    I would say that although I do teach all forms of the verb when teaching different tenses, when it comes to what I expect pupils to remember, and really drill into them, I focus on the je form. I teach middle set (2 out of 3) in Y9 and the majority of them now can write coherently with more than one tense, so long as they stick to je. Then a much smaller proportion (10-20% of the class?) can use il/elle and nous.

    To help get the verbs into their heads, I do:
    • mini-whiteboard work - initially with a verb table displayed on the board, then gradually removing support (I say verbs in English, pupils write the French on MWBs).
    • quizzes like Kahoot (multiple choice questions like "How do you say "I ate"? - je mangé / j'ai manger / j'ai mangé / j'ai mange)
    • "Tense recognition" starters - sentences on the board, pupils have to identify which tense each sentence is in.
    • Learning homeworks - Verb conjugations as well as vocab included in Memrise courses for pupils to practise.
    • LanguagesOnline grammar gapfills as homework.
    I do find Y8 a particularly dodgy year, if I'm honest. In Y9 the penny seems to drop for a larger proportion of pupils and they start to "get" it a bit more. So don't lose hope yet!

    I don't think preventing pupils from doing French at GCSE is the option. All pupils should be entitled to study a language and you can't write them off at the age of 13.

    But at the same time, we do have to be realistic. Not all pupils will be capable of achieving a Grade C (or Grade 5 or whatever) in a foreign language. But that doesn't mean we should prevent them from having a go and achieving whatever they can achieve. I have a couple of pupils in my middle set Y9 group who I seriously doubt are capable of achieving a good grade at GCSE. But they're capable of having a go and communicating something in French (even if their verbs are all over the place) and that's what matters.

    You just have to be firm in communicating to SLT throughout that your baseline assessments in MFL suggest certain pupils will not achieve anywhere near their target grade. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be doing MFL, you're just flagging up that you think this kid with a target of 6 is more likely to get a 3, so there are no nasty surprises come results day in Y11.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Pupils get their entitlement by studying the subject. It shouldn't be compulsory for them to take the GCSE.
    All pupils do PE but only a small percentage take the GCSE in the subject.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I totally agree that the GCSE course is not suitable for all pupils, and have argued this for some of my least able/least motivated pupils, resulting in them having completed an FCSE course at Christmas and now having extra English and Maths intervention instead.

    But I got the impression the OP wanted to prevent less able (and even middle ability) pupils continuing their language studies at KS4 by refusing them entry onto the course regardless. If this is the case then it is interfering with their entitlement to learn a language.

    My view is that pupils should do the GCSE if they are able to do so, and less able pupils should still have the option if they really want it (having been given realistic advice about the result they are likely to achieve).

    I have a couple of (SEN) pupils in Y11 who I tried to steer towards the FCSE. But they wanted to do the full GCSE and so that's what they're doing. They're going to get an F-grade but they'd rather have that than a Merit in what they perceive as a less worthwhile qualification.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  5. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    True, but it's the expectation that the pupils should be able to score well at GCSE that it is the issue, not their entitlement to study MFL-lite.
  6. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    It comes down to two things:

    (1) Education in general has become touchy-feely, pandering and 'progressive' meaning that the lazy, little scrotes have so little expected of them from an early age, they are mentally and psychologically incapable of applying themselves properly to anything that requires even a little learning later on in life. If it isn't easy and spoon-fed with a large dollop of edutainment they don't want to know! Take it as given that behaviour will be poor too, and deteriorate proportionately with the difficulty and quantity of what is to be learned. This is the fault of the system and those who put it in place. We've even invented disorders to shift the blame from bad parenting and teaching. Ever heard of Oppositional Defiance Disorder?

    (2) A foreign language should always be taught through its grammar, with one point of grammar being taught thoroughly and the next built thereupon. It makes the grammar less and less daunting, rather than trying to learn in all at once (and never succeeding) using a topic-based approach, or worse still, ignoring it altogether and pretending the pupils are picking it up by osmosis. The traditional approach might be a bit hair-shirt at first but it will always win out against the seemingly easier topic-based approach and the pupils will be better off for it all round, as linguists, and as people.

    Vladimir has spoken!
  7. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    I think you are expecting a lot from a year 8 group to be able to switch from one tense to the other. I work in a 'challenging' school and pupils are rarely able to do this in year 10 let alone year 8. They are still able to get good results in year 11 though.

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