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 Post subject: Languages...
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:03 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 6:51 am
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Location: The Garden of England
As a graduate in modern (European) languages - admittedly it was 25 years ago! - I was saddened to see plans for modern language GCSEs to be further dumbed down with the scrapping of oral tests. Too stressful apparently!

In the same week, Ofsted is now recommending the 'upgrading' in schools of 'community languages' such as Arabic, Bengali and Mandarin.

Once upon a time I'd have been furious. Nowadays I just despair...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:29 am 
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I'm with you on this one grumpy


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:15 pm 
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They are not scrapping orals but changing them to be assessment throughout the course. In my opinion this is better than a narrow focus on the exam scenarios and likely to give a higher focus on developing the use of the spoken language.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:04 pm 
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It all comes back to the 'exam' issue.

In the real world you don't get an 'extended assessment' when you're pitching to a client, or diagnosing a patient - you have to deliver there and then.

If kids cannot face tough exams and the stress they can undoubtedly cause, how will they ever cope in the world of work? Why fear oral examination of language proficiency? My generation did it and we sweated buckets preparing and taking the tests but we learnt to speak the language!

I gather one can pass a GCSE these days with minimal use of the language and just by ticking boxes to indicate linked phrases. I think that is a scandal.

Call me an old duffer but 'fings ain't wot they were' - and for the worse!!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:30 pm 
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But the exam is not like that now anyway! They are given scenarios to prepare - it's not 'on the spot' and never was ...

I did French O level in the 'good old days' and was good enough to take it early and start A level - my oral skills are certainly not as developed as my Year 9 child's.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:20 pm 
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This thread has brought back memories (good and bad) of my french orals.
For GCSE in 1989 we had to answer questions that we has previously been forewarned about. Then we were given a piece of stimulus material - mine was a map of France- and I had to talk about a pretend cycling holiday that I had. So far, so good.
However, for A-level, although we could chose a topic to answer certain questions on, we had no idea what kind of question the examiner would ask. I had chosen 'Joan of Arc' and so had learnt lots about her life etc. When it came to this section in my oral, the examiner asked me to compare Joan of Arc and David Icke, which I'm afraid left me completely clueless. I can still remember the awful feeling of sitting there not able to speak a word. At least nowadays if children are given scenarios to prepare they at least have a chance to show what they do know, rather than what they don't!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:47 pm 
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Guest55 wrote:
But the exam is not like that now anyway! They are given scenarios to prepare - it's not 'on the spot' and never was ...I did French O level in the 'good old days' and was good enough to take it early and start A level - my oral skills are certainly not as developed as my Year 9 child's.


Lucky you!

You clearly have faith in the English education system as it stands.

My 'O' and 'A' Levels and my degree orals all included prepared topics and an 'open' discussion. My oral skills are fine.

If you cannot stand up to on the spot examination - in the broadest sense - how will you deal with real life and real work?

My wife is an assistant head in a grammar and assures me that - despite undoubted improvements in teaching/ mentoring/ progress monitoring etc - it is easier to get better grades than ever before.

Why am I not one bit surprised?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:38 pm 
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I have been an assistant head at a GS too - children are much better taught these days. They are also taught to understand rather than just to learn by rote. I think today's pupils get a better deal than they did twenty years ago.

Some of life needs planning - some is 'on the spot' - there is a place for all types of assessment. I happen to believe that oral skills in a modern foreign language are not best examined as they are at present.

We are obvioulsy not going to agree on this ...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:55 pm 
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Location: Wirral
Quote:
My 'O' and 'A' Levels and my degree orals all included prepared topics and an 'open' discussion. My oral skills are fine.

If you cannot stand up to on the spot examination - in the broadest sense - how will you deal with real life and real work?


Your comment left me dumb folded.

So glad you’re a Grumpy old man who lives in the past and not in the present.
Nowadays schools identify with pupils who are unable (for whatever reason, speech impediment, deaf, nervous.. ect..) to be able to show they have knowledge and understanding of that particular language.

I do not believe things are getting easier. In fact I have to say on behalf of all our children, things are getting harder. Our children sit on average 4.2 more exams than their parents did.

Did you sit a PHSE exam?

How about I.T?

2 different computer languages?

Yes it is different, but please don't try to insinuate 1 generation worked harder than another because that can never be proven like on like!

AM


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:20 am 
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Location: The Garden of England
Appeal Mum

Where exactly did I say kids worked harder in the past? They were 'drilled' far more than today for sure. Is that a bad thing?

Tell me why it is grammar schools that produce the best outcomes for their pupils when in most cases they are the schools that retain more of the 'traditional' ethos than non-selectives.

I do not see the past through rose-tinted glasses - I am just thoroughly p***** off by the thinking that 'new is good, old is bad'!


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