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Why the obsession in MFL with ...

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by catmother, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Very good question and one that I ask myself very frequently.
  2. ojala

    ojala New commenter

    Do you prefer to make the learning IRRELEVANT for the pupils then?
  3. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Did you read Jubilee's post?
  4. Couldn't agree with you more jubilee...

    On a related note, I think the topics at A Level seem to be designed to shift the emphasis on getting the pupils interested in the subject, but a lot of my students don't like talking about what they already know, and would rather learn about areas relevant to the subject. They don't want to discuss their music or film interests with me, and I get bored of hearing about them!!

    I fear we're creating an army of linguists who are uninformed about the countries in which they are spoken.
  5. ...and they don't all want to talk about tattoos and piercings, fashion and celebrities!!!!

    I had a fascinating discussion last week with one of my Year 12 students about whether providing aid to third world countries was an effective way of tackling global poverty. I commented to her that her ideas and arguments would be great next year when we do the A2 syllabus, and she immediately said "So, I'm not supposed to want to discuss these issues in French now?".
  6. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Agree - education should also be about broadening horizons not just yoof culture. Why is it we are supposed to celebrate diversity everywhere else except in an MFL classroom?
  7. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    There's nothing new in this relevance stuff. I remember a lesson observation during my PGCE days of nearly 30 years ago when this came up. It's now called personalised learning. The trouble is that no one has told the chief examiners that they're supposed to set exams personalised to individual students' needs.
    More new clothes for the emperor and another stick to hit us with.

  8. How very true. Thank you yet again for talking sense Jubilee.
  9. Bungie

    Bungie Occasional commenter

    What about the complete nonsense where you can get a good grade at GCSE just knowing the first person singular? In real life you don't simply talk about yourself!
    Controlled assessments have made a bad situation worse. Pupils now think that speaking a modern language consists of memorising half a dozen bullet points on a couple of very limited topics.This is a completely inadequate preparation for A Level - or anything else for that matter.
    When is this country going to admit the truth? Fluency in foreign languages requires structured teaching, hard work and time.What has passed for modern languages teaching over the last 30 years in the U.K. is an absolute disgrace. I'm not blaming MFL teachers for this. They have had to endure politically correct teacher training, terrible textbooks (or picture books as I call them), unrealistic expectations from school managements and Ofsted, insufficient time allocation, and the onward march of easier subjects.
  10. I am brand new to the profession and feel exactly the same...
  11. I agree with your thoughts on Controlled Assessment Bungie - the whole system is a farce.
    Students can so easily circumvent the system, something that the examiners are blythly turning a blind eye to - I wasn't necessarily a fan of the old system, but excessive freedom here is throwing the baby out with the bathwater: it's now about what you can prepare rather than what you can spontaneously come up with.
  12. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I would only point out that teachers do not have to slavishly follow the specification all the time. At AS level we can make sure we give some coverage of the specified topic, but there is nothing to stop us doing other things which suit us and our students.
    CAs aren't brilliant, but they are only one part of a GCSE course.
  13. But they count for 60% of the GCSE!
  14. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    The answer is to make it impossible to teach to the test.
  15. Bungie

    Bungie Occasional commenter

    The answer is indeed to make it impossible to teach to the test.
    In the short term, some pupils would get lower grades.In the long term, it is the only way to ensure real competence in foreign languages.
  16. HelenMyers

    HelenMyers New commenter

    Just curious to know what date this posting will have!
    But while I'm here, thanks for an intersting set of comments. As I watch the soap 'Plus Belle la Vie' on FR3 every night, I see all GCSE topics covered .. including especially at the moment 'household tasks' as teenagers battle with their parents! The 'relevance' of what we are doing whatever the topic, whatever the grammatical point, is that learners are practising structures which they can then understand / apply to situations they meet ... including the situation of taking an examination which, in order to be truly reliable and valid as well as efficient for large numbers, needs to be the same for the whole cohort.
  17. londomolari

    londomolari New commenter

    Relevancy is it?
    Surely that takes second place to the F-word in education these days - FUN!
    I funning hate teaching!
  18. londomolari

    londomolari New commenter

    If I could see any genuine point in your comment, I'd spend a little time explaining to you just what language learning entails. I really hope you are not a language teacher!
  19. Isn't the "relevance" argument just an extension of what we are seeing elsewhere in education? e.g. universities chopping arts degrees in favour of "vocational" subjects? (I studied medieval French, simply because I found it fascinating - I had no idea where it would lead to in terms of job - it certainly was not directly "relevant" to my life then, or now).
    Whatever happened to learning for learning's sake? Whatever happened to the sheer intellectual pleasure of learning something new, something different?
    The classicists have had to fight their corner for a long time - we are in danger of MFL going the same way....
  20. But the point is the students want to entertained and see that it is "relevant".
    They do not all always have that thirst and wish to learn because it is fascinating. And they do not see the point of learning for learning's sake. When they are at school, all the knowledge and skills they acquire make them into a more rounded person. it gives them something more of the world and life than the small town in which they live, but they do not realise that.
    I used alway advocate PE to students or activities in general, whenever they used to go on about hating this and hating that. I tried to explain that wherever you go in our county, region, country, continent, the world, you would be able to become part of a community because you had an interest. Talk about lead balloon.
    I love my job (most of the time) but it is so bloody frustrating.


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