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Short and fat or long and thin (courses)

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by JollyR, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. Hi
    We have just had proposed to us that as of 2012 all options subjects will have to choose between the current "long and thin" 2 year course or a new "short and fat" one year course, i.e. delivering the GCSE KS4 course in one year instead of two. The one year course would give us 4 hours of teaching a week instead of 2 hours with the two year course.
    If we chose to stay on 2 years we would only appear in one options block and so could no longer have dual linguists (we currently have a good number of these) and would see a reduction in uptake. However, if we take the one year block there will either be a one year gap between KS3 and the GCSE course (in which case I fear they'll all have forgotten everything) or a gap before AS, if they choose it. We're a language college with over 80% uptake at KS4 so we would be needing to get less able kids to reasonalbe grades with a year's break from y9.
    I was wondering if anyone has any experience of teaching the "short and fat" course, especially after a one year break, and how they have found it. I love the idea of having 4 lessons a week with them but worry about the gap. Would it be 2 lessons a week reteaching KS3 and two desperately trying to cram in the GCSE course?
    Sorry for a long post, very grateful for any comments
  2. mpc


    I don't have direct experience of teaching 'short and fat' BUT my instincts (based on a fair few years of MFL teaching) tell me that little and often is more effective than lots and bunched up. Your concerns about a year out are very valid too - what we learn quickly, we lose quickly, in my experience.
    I would also be concerned about being able to cram all the controlled assessments into a one year window.
    Good luck with whatever you decide,
    mpc [​IMG]
  3. I would say that short and fat could work with able commited linguists. As mpc says what we learn quickly we forget quickly. However if that is what is on offer I would go for that for dual linguists.
    Otherwise I would stick with long and thin. Much better for fitting in with CA. Also you could end up with no MFL for a year and we all know the importance of continuity. It would be very difficult to get them back on track after a year.
    This would also ease some of the 'pressure points' for the dual linguists.
  4. Hi MPC and Otter
    Many thanks for your replies. The controlled assessment issue is a big one, you're quite right. Fine with committed linguists who will do the work but very difficult to fit in the catch up ones etc for those who don't bother. An argument we can throw into the mix
    many thanks

  5. With short and fat you would also lose the time after the GCSEs in the first year of a long,thin course - so you could maybe end up with less time overall on a short fat course.

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