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Why do Teachers make French lessons so boring?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by crunchie, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    The OP only has to scroll through the pages on this forum to see a HUGE number of discussion threads added to by scores of MFL teachers all dedicated to sharing resources and ideas how to engage sec.school students in MFL and help them achieve their best GCSE results at the same time. I LOVE this community of MFL teachers and the resources they share, the inspiration they all give me (and through me my dept and my students), so I am sorry, sir, you don't have an accurate picture of how MFL are taught or received by many youngsters. You will be harder pushed to find a more dedicated core of people. Why do you think we are ON this forum?! To share good practice, offer support and guidance to anyone who needs it, to keep ourselves inspired and to inspire others, to give children in secondary schools the best experience of MFL that they can.
  2. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Sooner or later, and preferably sooner, children have to understand that they will have to put in effort. If they want to be entertained, amused or even just occupied, they should go somewhere other than to a school for that. Lessons are less boring for those who are actually doing the work.
    And now I'll work on some really interesting and entertaining lessons in which I do all the work and the young learners sit on their backsides and demanding that we "do something fun" today.
  3. @ Lara..thank you for your encouraging message. I guess it's what i wanted to hear really. I am not quite sure what the issues are. It may be a a perception on her part that French ought to come more naturally to her than it does (given that she has bilingual cousins who learnt -as I did - by living in a French speaking country). She is not generally uncooperative, and I have never had a report from school to suggest that she is. In fact, school reports have always shown her to be well behaved and hard-working.
    Her French teacher phoned me yesterday, which is what has prompted my question (which is partly to do with my anxieties about MFL teaching). The teacher was phoning me to express her concern that my daughter had not prepared for the speaking test next week.
    I do my best to try to encourage a positive attitude towards the teacher. I have never found her anything but positive and approachable in meetings.
    On question of vocabulary learning....how do you as a teacher go about making sure the students do this? Is there an accepted practice within the MFL community? This seems to me the key to confidence and fluency in the language.
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.
  4. Thank you for this. Very interesting. I'm glad you passed it on.
  5. My thanks to everyone who took the trouble to post a reply. My apologies to those who very offended by the question. That was not my intention.
    I am aware that MFL teachers work very hard to produce effective lessons for their students often in very difficult situations.
    I think you have all gone some way to answering my question and clarifying my ideas. Clearly there is no magic answer to MFL learning.....I simply had the misfortune of having learned it by immersion as a boy in a French-speaking country and therefore perhaps haven't quite got it when it comes to understanding how mono-lingual learn a foreign language.
    Thank you again and best wishes in your endeavours.
  6. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Vocabulary learning techniques:
    write lists of words in MFL/English. Read to yourself or out loud and then get someone to test you (or write the English in a different order to the original list, cover the original list and see how many MFL words you can add to the new list;
    Where the words are objects, pictures with the MFL word added could be placed where the learner will see them on a regular basis;
    Post-It notes with the MFL word can be stuck on items around the house. This works particularly well in the learner's bedroom;
    Find text related to the topic being studied. Select sentences from it and remove words that are on the list of vocabulary to be learnt. Your daughter must then decide which new words can be inserted to make the sentences make sense (not necessarily the ones that you took out).
    For Oral test preparation I like pupils to know the main question words (who? where? when? why? which? how? what? etc) so that they can make sensible replies to unrehearsed questions. I used to get fed up of asking "where is your house?" and being told things like, "my house has 3 bedrooms and a big garden."
    All my pupils used to get a credit card sized piece of laminated card with the question words on.
  7. kittylion

    kittylion Established commenter

    I don't know really - I guess it's just a gift.
  8. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I agree with Noemi that the wording of the question suggests that we go out of our way to make the lessons boring. There are some interesting thoughts on this at https://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/411752.aspx?PageIndex=1.
    Last week I heard a former director general of the CBI suggest that school leavers cannot turn up for work on time if they turn up at all, read, write or add up two three-figure numbers. Maybe that's because they had lessons that weren't boring or they had lessons in which their right to entertainment was upheld. Maybe there's a link between children being encouraged to think that they can have anything they want without any effort and them turning out to be illiterate, innumerate, unreliable and completely unemployable.
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

  10. Bright children can easily "coast" in other subjects putting in little effort and still achieving. I know this because I did it at school.

    Learning a language actually requires effort, homework and additional independent study and revision.

    You should be glad your daughter has a French teacher who took the time (for which she was not paid any extra) to make contact with you to try to get the best out of your daughter. Maybe you'd prefer the teacher did nothing and let your daughter fail GCSE French?

    If I had a pound for every time a student had said they were "doing the work in their head" or "they will remember it without writing it down" I'd have retired a rich man by now. In my experience, these students to do the same in their mock tests, forgetting to hand in their brain for marking and instead just the nearly blank exam paper.
  11. My suggestion would be that you help your daughter to achieve as you are fluent in French. Surely she should be finding French a doddle with all of your expertise? Maybe you should ask the teacher to set her some extra work to extend her learning? Or maybe you could arrange a surprise drop in to the school to see how your daughter behaves in the classroom. I am, of course, sure she is the picture of an angel.
  12. I am sick of parents who think their children do nothing wrong. We are" damned if we do and damned if we don't" . It's about time people realised that we are human beings as well not just the pupils
  13. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Well put. It's also high time the teaching profession hit back at the critics as we have done on this thread.
  14. I agree with you. I have been there too. So I am not naive about this. In my question I was quoting my daughter and I feel her frustration. Now she is upset because she "doesn't want to spend six minutes in a room with that teacher." I wonder how many of my students have felt like this and I never realised.
  15. Well perhaps she would prefer to go back to the style of French oral exam that I took at her age.
    1. It was conducted by an external examiner that I had never met.
    2. I had to read aloud a previously unseen passage in French to said complete stranger.
    3. I had to engage in a completely unpredictable conversation with said stranger.
    4. The specification was basically the French language.
    Now ask her if she would prefer that to spending 6 minutes with someone she knows, even if she does not like her very much, going over limited material with which she should be (could be) very familar.
    Just a thought!
  16. Isn't it just life though to 'not like' some people. School is about learning life skills too and whether she 'likes' the teacher should be irrelevant. Pupils need to learn that sometimes there are simply going to be people in life that you don't gel with, but you still have to get on with them and learn to be professional. I can't think of a job I have had in or out of teaching where I have got on with every single person, but you just learned the skill of getting on with it at school, where you had teachers you thought you 'hated at the time'. If your daughter seriously can't spend 6 minutes in a room with a person who she doesn't like now, what is she really going to do in the future when she has to work for someone who she might not like? You should be encouraging her to deal with her situation and not complaining about the teacher too.

    Whatever happened to pupils complaining about teachers and parents just saying ' well what did you do to warrant it?' or simply 'get on with it'. I fail to believe that the majority teachers go into school looking to actively wind pupils. Personalities will clash, it is just a fact of life.
  17. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Just had a quick scroll through this to look for suggestions from the OP as to how he would make MFL lessons interesting when there are 30 kids in the room, some who will be able to do the work, some who need a bit more of a push, some who don't want to do it and some who will simply play up regardless of what the lesson / topic is about............but I can't see any suggestions.

    OP, perhaps you should withdraw your daughter from the lesson and teach her yourself for 3 hours a week.
    Learning a language in a classroom situation is not the same as learning a language by living in that country. Neither is whole class teaching the same as one to one

  18. First of all - how are the rest of the children doing in the lesson? What kind of results does the teacher get?
    I think the main reason your daughter is not doing well in her French lessons and is made to feel rubbish at the subject because she's not doing the work properly, and if she is good at other lessons then she won't like not being good at something. She also won't be used to a teacher being disappointed with her performance, which you should really tell her is a compliment - if the teacher thought she was dumb as wood she wouldn't bother ringing you (on her lunch hour or after school, no doubt) But honestly, not writing things down in language lessons is like not reading in English literature. She sounds like she has a bit of an attitude (I could say something about the apple not falling far from the tree given the title, but I don't think this would be helpful for your daughter's current predicament. It might help you though) with this teacher, as most successful students, whether they like the teacher or not, generally write things down when they're told. Why she's not doing the work is what you need to find out.Things you know - she wants to learn French, she's a good student in other subjects, she's polite and well behaved.
    I think when students have parents who excel in a particular subject, they can become lazy and complacent because their parents can help them. Obviously, 1 on 1 is always better than 1 on 30, and you know your daughter better than most people, so you will understand the best ways to explain things to her - please do not take this as an indication you are better than her teacher because of thi, it would be foolish and unhelpful to do so.
    Also, your tag name is TimTutor. Are you a tutor? (I'm knew to this Forum) Children like spending time with their parents, 1 on 1. This problem with the French teacher is a good excuse for her to have some much needed 1 on 1 time with you, and also a common "enemy" (I use the term enemy loosely, I'm sure you and your daughter aren't vindicitive or nasty). If you are a tutor, I don't think I'd be out of line for suggesting however reasonable and well adjusted she is, she might feel a bit jealous at the thought of you helping other kids. You also said you helped her last time by going on walks. I think, however irritating this teacher may be to her, your daughter enjoys having your time and attention for the French problem, which really is a compliment to you, because it means she wants to spend time with you. Perhaps without realising, you are making the situation worse with you agreeing with her that the teacher is unreasonable/ useless/ boring - even if you haven't said anything to her she will have picked up on your tone. She probably feels so uncomfortable with this teacher because she has then mirrored this to the teacher in her attitude (not writing things down, maybe tone of voice, body language?) and doesn't like how this has made her feel, as she is well behaved in other classes. The teacher is also probably sick of her attitude, and having to tell her over and over again (it gets boring whether you're a teacher or not, I'm sure)
    If she wants to do well, I would:
    Go on your walks, but talk about other things on them - for example what she wants to do when she leaves school, her ideas about college/ university/ career. Focus it on her then she is getting the attention she needs. Back off helping her with French once you've started talking about
    different things on the walks. This way she will have to start paying
    attention to the teacher as she can't just rely on you to sort it out.
    You will also be teaching her a valuable lesson - sometimes you have to
    work with/ for people you just don't like, and you have to suck it up.
    I'm not suggesting you abandon her studies completely, but maybe on an
    hours walk, spend ten minutes talking about French, the rest of the
    time, something else, all about her.
    Be more supportive of the teacher. Would a bad teacher really take the time to ring you to tell you she's "had a bit of a go" at your daughter? As opposed to saying your daughter is not pulling her weight? Would a bad teacher call at all?!

    Also, I would be tempted to think about how you communicate with others. The title of your question is very insulting. Had it been rephrased you might have had much more helpful responses like you wanted. By choosing that title, you've alienated the people you want to help. (Could this be what you and your daughter have done with the French teacher?) It suggests all teachers make French boring, which I'm sure when you think about it is very hurtful. I'd be tempted to think about what you've said to the French teacher, and about her, in front of your daughter. Maybe an order of humble pie?
    I really hope you manage to make amends and your daughter gets a good grade. She is going through a difficult age - please be understanding, and take what she says with a pinch of salt :)

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