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Schools to start offering a 'virtual' Spanish A-level WITHOUT a teacher present in the classroom

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Dodros, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    Schools to start offering a 'virtual' Spanish A-level WITHOUT a teacher present in the classroom
    • Virtual A-levels could be launched in UK schools by September
    • The online classes do not require a teacher to be in the classroom
    • Teaching assistants will supervise small-groups as they work through 'guided interactive and engaging learning resources'
    The first ever 'virtual' language A-level could launch in the UK in September. The Spanish qualification will do away with the need for teachers in the classroom, and instead use iPads and computers to deliver lessons. Advocates say it is a cheap way to deal with teachers shortages, but unions warn that the standard of online education is still poor compared with traditional classes.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...ring-virtual-Spanish-level.html#ixzz56hO8mkMi

    I seem to remember a wholly computer-delivered course in less commonly taught languages (e.g. Bulgarian) being run during the 1970s at a West Coast of America Ivy-League university for highly academically talented students. After the initial burst of enthusiasm about the "wow" factor of new technology, the drop-out rate rose steadily. Why? Because the students grew weary with machine learning and craved contact with flesh-and-blood teachers.

    What do others think? Is the Pearson A-level Spanish initiative a much-needed shot in the arm for schools unable to afford teacher-led courses for small numbers of sixth-form students or is it a further nail in the coffin for MFL at KS5?
  2. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    Any reason why schools can't buy into this as well was having taught lessons.
  3. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Perhaps they'll do away with the need to know any spanish as well.
    emmamallard2000 and pascuam49 like this.
  4. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    Makes me wonder what "language" is.
  5. desertestrella7

    desertestrella7 New commenter

    This is just too depressing.... We use a lot of technology in our school as the students all have a Chromebook, and Google Classroom, Google Docs etc are all part of everyday life for them, and us, now. Whilst it has great benefits, language students from all Key Stages can't have a conversation with a computer.

    Our small A Level classes in both French and Spanish need us for more than just 'conversation' though. They may be the generation which has always had technology and the internet at their fingers, but I find with our students they love the interaction of chat and actually do a lot more work in the 'old-fashioned way' as opposed to working on a Google Doc. Then again, we are at the bottom of the pile for too many further up the ladder in education, so who knows. Hopefully I'll be out of teaching by the time that sad day comes...
    pascuam49 likes this.
  6. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    It will be very interesting to see how pupils manage. I am hoping it will produce self reliance however.....
  7. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    There is already a separate thread on this topic, for anyone interested in reading it.

    You could argue that technically, there would still be a teacher 'in the classroom', it's just that the classroom would be a virtual one rather than a physical one.

    The only other alternative I can see for schools who cannot justify a full time teacher, would be to share 'pool teachers', within their catchment area. That would obviously depend on the total number of students wishing to take that subject in that catchment area. It would also present timetabling issues, and the teachers would have to be OK with the demands of working at multiple sites. The schools would have to decide whether the ability to offer the subject outweighs the administration required.

    If this pilot scheme appears to work, then I would not be surprised if it were used not just MFL, but for any 'shortfall' subject.

    I doubt it. In my experience with AS students, they had limited enthusiasm for the idea of 'learning how to learn'.
    pascuam49 likes this.
  8. boatie

    boatie New commenter

    This is a piece of un-news! Virtual teaching has been around for quite some time - at least 10 years. I looked into it about 5 years ago for staffing Latin. The Welsh company (I've forgotten the name) also offered, I think, Japanese, Chinese, law and a few other things. It looked to be a perfectly bona fide set up, and it was backed up by the expectation of the school supporting the virtual teaching by having supervised study and a study co-ordinator to supervise whether pupils were on track or not. Although it wasn't the way forward for my school in the end, I'd say it's definitely an option for smaller schools and for offering more low take-up subjects.

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