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 Post subject: French in year 7 and 8
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:19 pm
Posts: 159
I have two kids at Grammar schools and both of them seem to find French a struggle. I am baffled by the way in which it is taught in that I cannot see any structure to their learning. They cannot grasp spelling and vocab and struggle with pronunciation. I recall having French every day when I was in school in the 1970's. They only seem to learn it twice a week.
Are they suffering from poor teaching, too few lessons, poor/lack of written resources ?
Anyone got any advice to offer and suggested text books or on line resources we could use to review and reinforce lessons learned in school ?

They don't seem to have any problems with any other subjects !


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:40 pm 
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I also need some help with improving French for my older year 7 dd, so will be reading this thread with interest.

_________________
;D


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:53 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:27 am
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Location: Buckinghamshire
DS1 was OK at French in Y7 because he had done the basics at primary and the year was spent making sure everyone was at the same level. In Y8 he really struggled and was near the bottom of the class in most tests and the year end exam. This year he has been put in set 2 and is doing well. It may be down to teacher style or it maybe that because the best boys are in the other set he is no longer intimidated. His test results have been significantly better and he seems much happier and confident in his ability. They have 4 periods of French a week - 2 singles and 1 double.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:17 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
When ds1 entered Grammar school, he had almost no French experience at all.

He was in a class with children from Indies who had been learning French from age 3 and were considerably more advanced - to be fair, even the state school boys knew generally more French than he did. Instead of being offered extra support/remedial lessons, he was thrown in the deep end - and sank like a stone.

I am frustrated because he seems to spend 70% of all his homework time doing a subject he now hates and has no intention of ever continuing. He is frustrated because the teacher always seems cross with him, he doesn't understand her homework or instructions sometimes, and 'can do no right'. In fact his reports are overwhelmingly positive in all subjects, with the French teacher's complaints standing out like a sore thumb.

However, when he started German in Year 8, it was an entirely different story - most boys were also new to German, and with a more even playing field, he quickly excelled, gained great marks, and really enjoyed learning the language. He has even asked me for extra German books and a cd to become better. Confidence breeds success, which in turn breeds more confidence. Yet I had tried last year to encourage him to use French language learning websites (look at the BBC one - it is great) and actually had my old Muzzy videos and loads of French picture books, etc. He just wasn't interested any more - 13 year old boys tend to be stubborn in nature!

As you can imagine , he is counting the terms until he can drop French forever and just focus on German from Year 10 at GCSE.

I feel that with a subject like this, when children arrive at such different levels, they should ideally be 'set' into groups and offered appropriate help for their ability from the outset.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:45 pm
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[quote]He was in a class with children from Indies who had been learning French from age 3 and were considerably more advanced - to be fair, even the state school boys knew generally more French than he did. Instead of being offered extra support/remedial lessons, he was thrown in the deep end - and sank like a stone.[quote]
Snap!!

My Ds is also struggling with French, although is slowly getting there. A language teacher friend of mine told me that boys tend to cope better with the more "mathmatical" German so we are hoping that next year will be better (Although like your son um, he'll still be doing French :( )


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:35 am
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Location: England
i am in a similar position although I still remember some of my O level French. Don't know why schools bother with French and German to be honest, I have never used it and I am 100% sure my child will neither. It was only a handful of years ago that the advice was to learn Spanish, what a joke, look at Spain and its economy now. It is only a matter of time before china and India will also fall from economical grace. English is the one true universal language that binds us together.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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http://www.languagesonline.org.uk/

Try this website - it was recommended to me.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:19 pm
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Interesting line of discussion we are following here with French less favoured than German.

I do feel my kids should learn another modern foreign language....and don't knock Spanish, Poiuyt, remember that a good proportion of of the worlds developing economies speak it, in South America and the southern USA !

Also my husband who is an aerospace engineer advises that although having initially learned German to make him feel confident dealing with German based manufacturers, the French are now leading the way in many new engineering developments !

Strangely year 7 son did enjoy his introductory term of Latin...but no problems with accents of pronunciation there !


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:08 pm 
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The way modern languages have been taught has changed a lot since I was at school, and as someone who has taught French, German and Russian (the latter 2 to 'A' level), I have actually been really shocked at what is required for GCSE. It seems to me that the syllabuses have been reduced to very basic stuff, which is laboured to death over 5 years. If you log onto the exam board websites and look at past papers, you might have a shock. And oral exams are pretty much scripted these days too; and run by teachers (some of whom have been known to 'mouth' answers to students) -hard to swallow for those of us who walked into a room with a strange examiner and no idea what we were going to have to talk about.

This, I think, is responsible for dragging out the basics far longer than they need to be. And it goes hand in hand with the idea that learning 'difficult' grammar concepts (like the verb 'to be'!) should be deferred, watered down, sweetened etc, instead of just got on with. As a linguist with a genuine passion for language, I find this hard to take.

In terms of French specifically, it could just be that your DC don't like it or have an aptitude for it- they might, as um says, prefer German (I do!). Or maybe they're not going to be linguists. Advice: aim low! It is my opinion that as MFL syllabuses stand, many children could sit a GCSE after 2 or 3 years' good teaching. That doesn't mean that the children are highly gifted; but I do believe that what is required to pass a GCSE now would have been around a sparky end of Year 8/ average end of Year 9 level a few years ago.

Exceptions, I understand, are Arabic and Mandarin ( harder, I think and grade boundaries skewed by native speakers); and there may be others I don't know about. My own view is that Spanish is probably the most straightforward for those who need a language but don't especially shine, though that is, I admit, just my opinion and not evidence- based.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:18 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:19 pm
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Thanks Amber. I agree with your comments. I laboured hard over GCE French in 1977 and passed with a good grade. Verbs and vocabulary are indelibly etched in my memory. Our teacher was a horrible sadist who put the fear of God into us.

In 1996 I studied Spanish GCSE at night school. One night a week for two years I think. Was shocked by the ease of the exam paper and passed with an A grade. You could have scored points on that paper not knowing a word of Spanish !

Dumbed down certainly !


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