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Unpredictable questions GCSE

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by NFSD, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Thanks so much for your ideas!! I shall be using that very soon. Just trying to get the timid ones out of their shell and speak out. Sometimes they speak out loads in class but once they're in the exam that's it they freeze.
    Unfortunately I would love to say that I am so dedicated to the job but no... I didn't wake up in the middle of the night to write that!! I live in Singapore so hence the time difference!! [​IMG] Hope you're having a great Easter holiday!!
    We use edexcel and being able to answer the "easily guessable questions" plays a big part in their results from what I've been told (maybe they don't lose all their marks but they lose a lot for not being able to answer). I used to work with AQA and it sounds great that the students aren't penalised for not answering the unpredictables.
    Clocking out at 11.03am!

  2. Sorry I wanted to reply to you all and say thanks for the help you have given to me.
    I am in exactly the same position as sommersprossen - however, looking back at my questioning I was shooting them in the foot.
    I think one of my unpredictable questions was "did you watch a film on the plane?" they answered "yes" - some could answer a little more than that. I guess I was expecting them to say "yes I watched Twilight on the plane, it was great because I love whoever" . I think my expectations were maybe a little too high for some.
    In hindsight I could have asked a more general question such as "do you like to travel by plane?"
    I will be writing up your ideas for my next meeting and getting more ideas from them. I will definitely be writing back to give you what I have gained from my colleagues!!
    Thanks again for writing to me and giving me advice!!
  3. BrightonEarly

    BrightonEarly Occasional commenter

    Yes, I agree, general questions do work best. They should be phrased using vocabulary that you know your students will recognise, use cognates whenever possible. There is no necessity for the guessable question to require the students to use lots of complex language if you design a task which encourages this for the earlier bullet points. Also if you choose a question they are interested in answering, the detail may even flow naturally.
    Singapore? Well that does explain the early hours! [​IMG] Do you like living there?
  4. 18 month ago I was on an AQA speaking course and the guy said to ask them about an opinion - like: What do you think about xyz, How do you find... etc. Make sure they answer with a verb - otherwise no points are given for the last question.
  5. Pausing to gather your thoughts is a typical aspect of all speech. The problem is that in an exam, you get the feeling that a normal pause is more like an eternity, and the longer it goes on, the more you feel you have to say something, anything, to break the silence. Then you freeze, because you are determined to speak, but havent yet marshalled your thoughts. I took a language test recently and had exactly this experience. I made all the mistakes I tell my students not to make!!!

    Teaching little techniques, for example, repeating the question, "Do I like swmming in the sea or.?.., well,...!, teaching them that actually it is okay to "....er, .....,hum, well, I dont know..." " I am not so sure of that...." etc, all the stuff you normally use to fill in the conversation while you think up an answer. Recording yourself doing a language test is also a salutory experience as is getting students to prepare and give tests to each other and assess themselves. Another good practise is the old radio game where you have to speak for a minute without hesitation, deviation, or repetition. Brainstorm some nouns and get the students to speak non-stop to each other about the nouns for a minute.

    Many language learners are haunted by the notion that you cant communicate unless you speak in fully formed, rounded sentences and you shouldnt open your mouth unless you can do so, just as they are haunted by the notion that unless you understand every word in a sentence you cant understand anything.
  6. ambi

    ambi New commenter

    For AQA pupils will only lose 1 mark for communication if they can't do the unpredictable Q and in all the other questions thay have satisfied all the criteria for getting the top band in communication, But we do OCR and the mark scheme is worded that to get 8/9 marks for communication they have to deal with unpredicted qestion. So what happens there with the pupil who in all other parts of test would satisfy the 14/15 communication band but *** upon the unpredictable? - do you mark them at only 9 despite everything else they have done. In a normal conversation you could aske for repetition more than once but not in the exam which seems a bit unfair.
  7. PierreImport

    PierreImport Administrator

    The questions are not unpredictable at all. They are related to the topic you have taught. For example, some colleagues have a bank of six or so questions from which to choose, all of which have been comprehensively taught, with the question, in class.
  8. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Sarah, I think it's just incredibly unhelpful to make that sort of comment. Yes, your brother's exam sounds like exactly the same as my English exam back in the days, but I wouldn't say it is necessarily that much better - I didn't have a clue how my teachers got to the grade they did or how to improve it. It was completely pot luck in my eyes. Plus, I had quite a bit more time dedicated to language learning, and it was heavily grammar-based, so making things up on the spot was easier than it is for my students currently. I think you have to remember that the conditions in the UK makes language teaching much different than what you find in Germany or in my native Switzerland.
  9. Yes, this is true, noemie, but I hate comments like "It's because they've just learnt the language for such a short time!" when it isn't. It's because of the way they are taught the language, and the unpredictable question would, in my opinion, be much easier to answer if the pupils were 1) trained more in being spoken to in the language, which means just a bit more TL, which could be started when they start their GCSE course, perhaps just one lesson a week, then they would just feel more prepared, because they are mostly afraid that they don't understand the question, and 2) if they were forced to speak more TL in normal lessons. This is absolutely possible.
    My brother was given a mark scheme before each of his exams, and his teacher acted out a practice exam with two volunteering pupils and made the class mark them. So they actually got a feeling for what the teacher has to watch out for in the exam and so on. The first mark schemes were made by individual teachers, but now they have one which is valid for the whole school and all the MFL.
  10. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    When I did O levels in two languages, after studying one from Yr 7 and the other from Yr 9, we had no idea what the visiting Oral Examiner would be asking us.
    We did not memorise set questions and answers. The examiner was not given a list of the exact wording to use with us when questioning us on any topic. We could be asked questions in any of 7 or 8 tenses. We were not familoar with the examiner's accent or pace of speaking either.
    Every question was unpredicatable!
  11. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    familiar .... unpredictable!
  12. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I think there is a very big portion of it that is the cultural inability of British people to make mistakes! Most Europeans (Spaniards in particular) are quite happy that they will get pronunciation and/or grammar wrong and that it is inevitable. British people have an innate fear of making mistakes and don't want to say anything unless they are guaranteed it has been checked and approved. I couldn't believe how many pupils left blanks in multiple choice papers (particularly the high achievers - you'd think they could work out statistics for themselves, wouldn't you).
  13. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    pierrelmport is correct. You could be working from a batch of several surprise questions which, in reality, do not come as a total surprise, at least with AQA.
  14. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

  15. <font face="Calibri">Hi,</font><font face="Calibri">We use edexcel which does penalise students if they are unable to answer the unpredictable questions. We are finding it difficult to mark these orals because of this element. However, the mark scheme doesn&rsquo;t help as it is too vague. At times it&rsquo;s hard to differentiate between the grade bands. AQA seems a lot better with regards to the mark scheme/unpredictable Q&rsquo;s. </font><font face="Calibri">I realise that in order to promote TL amongst students speaking activities have to be practised much earlier on. This is something that I am trying to incorporate more often in lessons in KS3 upwards. This brings me back to my initial post. Do you have any ideas/games/tips for me to use in my lessons to allow students to speak more often and with spontaneity?</font><font face="Calibri">Thanks for all your ideas so far. Brighton, hope you&rsquo;re having a good holiday! I am going to La Belle France to practise my easily guessable questions! Yes Singapore suits me well. Nice weather, beautiful place! However, I do get homesick a lot. </font>
  16. Oh no!
    I ended up asking my candidates whatever unpredictable question came into my head at the end of the test. (I asked them something i was pretty sure they could answer from the topics)
    I had to do this because candidates often covered what I planned to ask in the course of their answer.
    AQA now want to know the unpredictable question for each candidate. I suspect I will have to listen to all my candidates again, write down the unpredictable questions and then send them off.
    I wonder if it is possible for the examiner to work it out when they are marking - the unpredictable question would be the last one I asked (and was not written on the task sheet and to which the candidate had a very modest answer).
    I wonder if I will get it right next year!
  17. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Shedboy I was in a similar situation. Some pupils spoke so fast I had to ask more than one surprise question, and I distinctly remember for one or two students on one occasion I asked questions that were not on my list. If that's the track that's being moderated I'm stuffed.
    I simply do not understand why a moderator would not be able to understand the question from hearing it, and would need it written separately in English. Doesn't fill you with confidence, does it?
  18. Thanks Noemie.
    Glad to know its not just us. We all did the same thing across the department.
    I wonder if all 3 languages will get the same query from the exam board. It would not surprise me if we get a different response from each language.

  19. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    AQA's advice on this is its guidance. As you are supposed to ask no more than one unprepared question unless it is to fill the time and take the candidate beyond 4 minutes, you simply preface it with "Et maintenant la derni&egrave;re question" or "Und jetzt die letzte Frage", which is the signal the examiner.
    Have a look at http://store.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcse/pdf/AQA-MFL-W-TRB-FAQCASAUT10.PDF, paragraphs 114, 115 and especially 116.
  20. foroff2233

    foroff2233 Occasional commenter

    Hi,We use edexcel which does penalise students if they are unable to answer the unpredictable questions.

    My question is: how does the board know which the unpredictable question is?


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