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When to introduce tenses to a class?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by anon875, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Hi all,

    To wish year group do you first introduce tenses in MFL (French/Spanish/German)? And in how much detail do you go?

    I'm looking at a scheme of work for someone and they don't touch on a tenses until half way through year 8. Is that right? Late? Early?

    What do you think? What do you do?

    I've got a dream of year 7s being able to recognise/use present, perfect and near future (French) by the end of the year.
     
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Depends on how long they've been learning the language. makes sense to start with present tense (though at this point no need to mention which tense at all). Schemes I've worked with generally don't 'touch' on teaching any different tenses before the second year of learning.
    However with the new KS3 integrated approach to learning , the recognition of past/future may just crop up when using authentic texts - but woudn't attemp teaching it before the students have a firm grasp on all persons of the present tense.
     
  3. It's interesting that you mention having a grasp of all persons of the present tense; a german colleague of mine calls the GCSE the "ich-test". (He thinks UK students only learn about talking about themselves up to GCSE).

    I think the recognition at an early stage is important - some of my GCSE students still have no idea and often confuse "je" and "j'ai"
     
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    For the oral they do, but certainly more is needed to achieve on the written, reading and listening. Well at least to achieve good marks!

     
  5. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    We do the present tense in Y7 French, covering regular verbs plus avoir and etre, and at the beginning of Y8 we do faire and aller in the present tense, using the topic of hobbies as a vehicle for this. Once they know aller, we then introduce the future tense because there basically isn't anything new to learn, it's just a case of knowing to put an infinitive after the part of aller in the same way we do in English.
    When we introduce the perfect tense depends on the ability of the group and how well they've grasped the present and future, but it would generally be towards the end of Y8. Usually that would just be regular verbs that take avoir, and then they'd revise it and learn some irregulars and about etre verbs in Y9 when they're confident with the regular verbs. Our pupils start their GCSE options in Y9 and only the higher groups do languages, so the lower ability groups often only learn the perfect tense in terms of set phrases with common verbs rather than learning all the rules for forming it.
     
  6. Interesting.

    Our school has a 2 year KS3. Would you speed up introuction of tenses in this case?
     
  7. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I would hold off on anything but present till half way through Year 8. If you want any mastery at all, then I can assure you that regular present tense endings and some common irregular present tense verbs is plenty to chew on, even for able students.
     
  8. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    We also have a 2 year KS3, so the outline I described takes this into account.
    I definitely agree with the point above that there's no point moving on to another tense if pupils haven't mastered the first one they've done. In my experience, all that does is confuse them so they can't do ANY tenses correctly!
     
  9. I apologise now for this pedantic comment, However here goes, surely we all teach 'tenses' from day one.
    The present tense is the most important and certainly, in the languages that I know, the most irregular. It also seems to be the first to be forgotten, as it appears to fall out of student minds as soon as another tense is introduced.
     
  10. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    There's a world of difference between students learning set phrases (je m'appelle, j'ai ___ ans etc) that happen to be in a particular tense, and them understanding how to form a tense though, don't you agree?
     
  11. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Having recently taught regular -er verbs to two Y7 classes recently I am reminded how hard some pupils find this, even in our grammar school. They need to get the concept, then develop some automatic behaviours which take repeated drilling and practice. This took me at least 6 x 40 minutes with all kinds of tasks; chanting, repeating, QA, pairs, writing etc.
    The perfect tense is an even greater challenge.
    I suspect that a real issue in some schools is that there is just not enough time to embed these things. We need at least 4 x 40 mins a week to get the job done and that's with above average pupils.
     
  12. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I often feel that we MFL teachers need to teach pupils the grammar of their own language first.
    I quite like the idea of giving them a mixed tense text in English and getting them to circle or underline / highlight Present tense verb usage in one colour and Past and Future in other colours.
    They need to be able to analyse sentences and decide if I,he, she, we or they are doing something now, did something in the past or will be doing something in the future. Otherwise they just get terribly confused and don't understand whay they had to say, 'je vais' last year and are now required to say,'je suis allé(e) or 'je vais aller'.
    I always tell pupils that verb endings don't change much in English but that foreign pupils don't have the easy recognition of verbs from the endings (eg: 3 groupings French). To a foreign learner of English, there is nothig in the words jumps, tables, copy,, eats, listen, green tc to indicate whethre the word is a noun, adjective or verb.
    Learners of French and Spanish, on the other hand can fast-track their acquisition by learning the categories and the regualr and irregular patterns for endings.
    It goes some way to lessening anxiety.
    I've actually found that lower set groups respond quite well to formal verb tables. It fits in with the writing frames that they use a lot in other subjects and they can cross reference quite efficiently to mkae up the short sentences that you ask then to translate.
     
  13. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Sounds like a good idea, that, jubilee.
     
  14. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Yes learning English tenses is in my view a really important part of our job! Not withstanding the ich test, we have started to introduce tenses earlier and earlier mainly because of the FCSE. We find that children learn them quite well in the singular forms je, tu and il/elle. Conjugating verbs to the plural seems to be what really blows their minds. I learnt in the days when you didn't touch past tense till year 9 or 10. I find our children understand how to form tenses quite easily its just remembering them which is problematic. In year 10 I find that students are pretty good at future, conditional, imperfect and perfect but the present tense is still their worst tense even if it has improved. Comparing tenses seems to help them learn them because of their differences.
     
  15. It drives me mad. First I need to check they know what a verb is ("A doing word", they all chant, which sounds good until I ask them for an example).
    Then what is a tense? Then the present/past/future in English;
    Then what is an infinitive? ("That's when it lasts for ever").
    Then deal with the fact that even my G&Ts do not know that "I am" is a part of To Be...I have given up on tenses until they do some grammar in English.
    My best 1 so far; applying the rule of Take ER off to form past tense and add e with accent:
    J'ai un hamste (I had a hamster): rule followed perfectly...
     
  16. Well, I'm glad that wasn't the opinion of MFL teachers (nor the exam setters, I suppose) when I was in what's now called Yr9, where the Preterite was explained when it cropped up. For the exam you had to be able to use, not just recognise, all the Indicative Tenses. I can't remember about the Subjunctive; I'd need to find some old papers to check, but it's quite possible, because we had to do it for Latin, which we only started in Yr8.
     
  17. I think we had that when I was at school.
     
  18. We did this in English lessons in Yr5 - parsing complex sentences into clauses, phrases and words and identifying the function of each. Loved it. So logical. Lots of ticks!
     

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