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Secondary HTs: Are you CUTTING mfl due to the EBacc?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Linguista, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. Over on the MFL forum teachers are saying that their schools are cutting foreign languages due to the EBacc: from September 2011 they will only teach French instead of the 3 languages they are still teaching, basically because in a language started later/picked up after a 2-year gap it is impossible to achieve the elusive A*-C, so why bother? This even in a school with 100% (!) pass rate in Spanish.
    I mean, this is something we, language teachers would not have imagined, not even in our worst nightmares: the white paper and the EBacc having a detrimental effect on mfl teaching?
    Anyway, I just wanted to ask secondary heads here: are you doing this? (I do not intend to wind up anyone, I understand that there may be reasons I, not being a ht, don't understand, it's just that... it's a bit of a shock :-( )
    Lingüista (www.linguista.es)
  2. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Linguista, do you think that schools should offer all languages - e.g. French, Spanish, German - at GCSE to all children who want to take any one of them, regardless of their previous progress or even any experience?
    Would you, for example, say that any child should be able to opt for German in Y10, even those who have not previously studies German, have not done well in (say) French and have showed poor attitude and behaviour?
  3. Hi Middlemarch.
    Yes. Why does any previous progress in a language determine what languages you are allowed to study? (And that's apart from the fact that the one language the studen't did not do well in is usually French, which is a rather difficult language.) You didn't do well in French, so you do not deserve to learn Spanish? You have just arrived at our school in Y7 with no experience in German, so we're afraid a GCSE/A-level is already out of the question for you? I'm sure you can't have meant this, Middlemarch. Have I misunderstood you?
    It takes about 3 years to learn a language from zero to, say, B2-C1 (that's higher than a GCSE A*). Between Y7 and Y13 there are lots of "three-years" to do it.
    Certainly. During my schoolyears I learnt German for 6 years and did not get anywhere with it. Then I started English and went from zero to Cambridge Proficiency in 3 years in my teens. (English is not my mother tongue.) Different languages work differently for people and motivation also depends on how interested you are in the culture of the target country. If a student starts learning German in Y10, he or she can do a GCSE in Y12 or 13.
    As for poor attitude and behaviour: let them try learning a new language if they want to (I firmly believe in school being about offering possibilities to learn). Make them work hard. If they don't do the work or misbehave, throw them out of the lesson (and the whole course): they did not deserve the chance to try. But to say outright that someone can't start learning German in Y10 because they have no experience, they did not do well in French and had poor attitude there just sounds too harsh to me.
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    No, I agree with you - if it's an option, it's an option for all. I was just checking what you thought, given that I've seen articles in the press by language teachers arguing that they don't want all and sundry doing MFL to 16 as they're hard to teach.
  5. Thank you for your reply, Middlemarch. I am glad you agree with me on the option part, it was reassuring to read your reply.
    That is probably true. But they are still taught Maths and English, too.

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