1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice
  3. The Teacher Q&A will be closing soon.

    If you have any information that you would like to keep or refer to in the future please can you copy and paste the information to a format suitable for you to save or take screen shots of the questions and responses you are interested in.

    Don’t forget you can still use the rest of the forums on theTes Community to post questions and get the advice, help and support you require from your peers for all your teaching needs.

    Dismiss Notice

Why GCSE MFL is not fit for purpose

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by spsmith45, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    From my blog - bit of a rant!

    Why are many language teachers unhappy with the current GCSE MFL exams and are
  2. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    OK. That did not copy and paste properly and I cannot edit it. So try this:

  3. Agreed but what can we do. No one seems to listen to us.
  4. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    I think the current administration has made it pretty clear that it does not value or trust teachers' professional judgement, opinion or knowledge.
  5. Let's get it right. We are deemed as professionals, but even so we have no opinion about our profession, or what is best for the children.
  6. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter


    (Sorry, can't add hyperlinks in Google chrome - copy and paste it into address bar...)
  7. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

  8. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    I learned recently how to add links via Chrome: before the link, type [ u r l ] and after the link type [ / u r l ] (minus the spaces) Then the link will appear.
  9. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Trouble with IGCSE is that it does not suit all abilities, at least as far as the writing element is concerned. Even at a grammar school the lower sets would find the writing section hard. It is clear that IGCSE is aimed at the most able.
    You could concoct a tiered reading/writing paper which would work for a wider range of ability.
  10. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I read that Telegraph thread. I don't have an issue with MFL A-levels. Criticisms of these should be relatively minor and centre on the use of the essay and its associated mark scheme IMHO.
  11. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    Excellent. Thanks :0)
  12. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    Agree with most of what Steve says and we don't have the sort of pupils who could cope with IGCSE. However, results were good last year, despite the writing debacle. I honestly have no idea why writing and speaking should be worth 60% of the total marks.
  13. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I think it was the brainchild of some genius at the now defunct QCA.
  14. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I was just filling in my paperwork today, minus one student who is sitting an extra task next Tuesday, and it just occurred to me how easy and tempting it might be to just "colour-in" a grade, any grade. Shocking really.
  15. LadyPsyche

    LadyPsyche New commenter

    Didn't said genius decree that 'all GCSEs must contain 60% controlled assessment', which when applied to MFL cannot possibly be the reading and listening papers, as they cannot be pre-learnt? So we're stuck with perpetuating the idea that what our pupils can say / write in French has more importance than what they hear someone else say, or what they read? *Deep breaths*
  16. LadyPsyche

    LadyPsyche New commenter

    WOW! Sorry, really can't get the hang of this thing!
  17. runaway

    runaway New commenter

    I'm with you all the way Siegen81to82 - I've been responding with similar 'rant' to every DfE call for evidence/information on every curriculum or similar educational 'consultation' for years, have written to MP twice and signed soooo many petitions. Bottom line is exam boards are privatised and in bed with publishers and can do what they like -Ofqual, QCA/QCDA etc all are unable to do anything but make recommendations to tinker around the edges, so they act like its not a problem and are deaf to complaints rather than admit they've created a monstrous system over which they have no control.
  18. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Interesting, this. You see, I would not call it destructive or punitive, i would argue that you are just testing knowledge of grammar and vocab.
    Now, if you let pupils write their own little essays, they can choose to show what they know. fair enough. If you set a translation or comprehension you are testing a range of what they know.
    In other subjects you don't say to kids: "write down what you know about circuit diagrams", you test them by setting a particular problem to see if they can apply their knowledge.
    There may be an imperfect analogy with languages here.
    Open-ended "show us what you know" questions are, you could argue, unfair since not all candidates are being set the same question (if you follow my logic here).
    I think the main problem with translation is that it makes you practise too much translation in the classroom at the expense of more authentic, communicative activities. Classic backwash effect.
    Yes, the 60% point is a case of "one size fits all" policies which do not suit MFL. Technology, art and music suit controlled assessment, not sure other subjects do.

  19. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Those were the words used by the chief examiner at one of the launch meetings a few years ago. He was trying to illustrate that in the grammar section at AS and in the translation both ways at A2 everything had to be perfect for the marks to be awarded, so that missing or extranous accents/Umlauts meant that there would no marks given for that gap or part of a sentence. And it is done for exactly the reason you give, i.e. that it is grammar and vocabulary that are being tested. That examiner went on to comment that, if students leave the examination and can say, "I knew all the words.", the examiner's response would be, "Good. I got it right because I'm testing whether or not they know the grammar to put those words together." It is therefore possible for a candidate to get 75% of the grammar or translation right but receive no marks because of the intrusive mistakes.

Share This Page