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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:11 pm
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Location: Bournemouth
Did anyone else hear Radio 4 this morning, just before 8.00am? Apparantly 2 years ago foreign languages were no longer compulsory in secondary schools after the age of 14 (although it is at the schools' discretion). I wasn't aware of this. Concern was expressed about the impact of this decision on language provision in some state secondary schools. If schools no longer employ sufficient language teachers, options for students are narrowed. There may be specialist language colleges springing up, but this doesn't help if it's not your catchment school. The response from the education secretary (forgotten her name) was to stress the positive initiatives of primary schools to introduce languages (can't say that I have noticed this locally).

Anyway, this really struck a chord with me as when I was going round our catchment girls' secondary school I was not impressed with the provision for languages - the results for French GCSE were (in my view) very poor and there did not seem to be the option to take more than one language at GCSE. However the grammar school did offer the option of more than one language.

Is this common practice for non-grammar schools in other areas? Can your children opt to take more than one language for GCSE? I feel strongly that the option should be there for all students in all schools. Or am I being unrealistic?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:16 am 
The policy of making a language optional from 14-16 is widely thought to have been a disaster. There is now a 'lost' generation, a large percentage of which only studied a single language for three years (11-14) - and frankly you might as well not bother for the amount you retain. There is an obvious problem with a lack of trained language teachers in primary. Everyone also seems to forget that languages are not like Maths. Even if all of a Year 7 class have studied a language in primary, is it the same one? French, Spanish, Italian, or even Urdu or Chinese? You need the continuity.

As one academic put it: 'The inclusion of languages was largely symbolic. We weren't trying to create a generation of linguists, but to stress that we regarded knowledge of a foreign language as an essential attribute of a rounded person.'

Around here (Bucks/Oxon), all the grammars offer more than one language and as far as I'm aware students are not allowed to drop them all at 14. However, increasingly few do two language GCSEs and even fewer do two language A(S) levels.

Most of the Uppers (secondary moderns) that I know don't offer two languages at GCSE, and the majority of students don't even take one.

The Oxfordshire comps are better (ours offers French and German - but not both - from year 7, 'gifted' pupils can take the other language from year 9, and Spanish GCSE is also offered in year 10), but even here it is often not required post 14 and students have to give up subjects like music and drama if they want to study two languages. The take-up post 14 is less than 40%.

I feel a government U-turn coming! In the meantime, I'm encouraging my daughter to view languages positively.

Jed



Jed


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:29 pm
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Location: Berkshire
Quote:
The response from the education secretary (forgotten her name) was to stress the positive initiatives of primary schools to introduce languages (can't say that I have noticed this locally).


All primary schools are being encouraged to introduce a language. Most of the primarys in Wokingham LA, have allocated some sort of time for teaching a language into thier curriculum. Our primary has gone from 1/2hr a week french for yr6, to including it for yrs 3-5 as well.
It is very basic, and taught in a very informal manner. (It has also cost us 'extending writing' in literacy!)
The down side is, our specialist languages secondary, is a Girls only. So not much use if you have boys, or are not in catchment. Also from visiting our catchment school on open evening, and speaking to a parent who's son attends the local grammar, upon starting secondary, they will all be taken back to the beginning anyway. :?

The IB qualification, Mr Blair referred to, includes studying one language at least. Again, if its ever implemented, if your catchment school doesn't offer this, its of little use.

Agree with Jed, The government needs to do a U-turn, because what is, in place, clearly won't meet future needs!


BW


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:25 am 
My daughter is in year 3(state primary) and has started French this term.

This is has not been taught at the school before. So she will have 4 years of French before hitting secondary she seems to be picking a lot up. The children in years 4 5 and 6 are not getting it so she is lucky and my son in nursery will benefit. (if it hasn't changed by then)

Our local mixed comp is language specialist and has several languages on offer including japanese. They are having fantastic results with lots carrying on with 2 languages to A level.

It just shows it can be done. I am always so embarassed at mine and our country's lack of a second language. We are put to shame by our European neighbours. For many countries there it is a requirement to be fluent in English to gain a uni palce, if we did that they'd be like ghost towns!

Karen


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:45 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 7:32 pm
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My daughters primary school teach French now once a week in year 4 and when she was in year three she also had some classes in it although maybe not as regular. My daughter loves it it as did my son when he was there. The school also offers French or German as after school clubs. It is good as my son joined Secondary school this year and loves his languages because it is not totally new to him.

I believe languages are an important part of learning. Just as technology is changing so is our society and as such our children need to be prepared in all areas in order so as they can make the most of many different opportunities.

Melx


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 8:50 pm 
Where are all these primary schools that teach French? I don't know of any local to us that teach any languages at all (London).


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:07 pm
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Dear Guest and others

Due to implementation of the National Languages Strategy.......All pupils in Key Stage 2 will have access to a modern foreign language by September 2009. ....... Many schools in Buckinghamshire have already begun delivering French within the curriculum or are planning to do so.

Patricia


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:27 pm 
To the guest from London,

We are in the London Borough of Sutton and I know we're not the only local school doing French.

Karen


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:02 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:47 pm
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Location: Berks,Bucks
My son did french at primary school for 1/2 hour a week from y3 to y6, but he himself says that he learned more in a few month of secondary than 4 years of primary school.
It was good as an initiation, but it didn't go very far.

His secondary school is a language specialist, so he is doing 2 modern languages plus latin and can start a third one in year 8. Students are required to take at least one modern language GCSE.

Latin is compulsory for two years. I don't know how useful latin is, but it does teach grammar. I don't think that it is possible to learn a foreign language without learning its grammar, but you need a good grasp of grammatical concepts, and little of the english grammar is taught as part of the curriculum.

By contrast, our local secondary, altough a good school, only offers one language at GCSE level and on a voluntary basis.

From the other's comments, it seems that language provision is a feature that differenciate in many cases grammar and comprehensive schools.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 10:31 pm
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This has been an interesting discussion to read. My son (y6) has just started French as part of curriculum in a Bucks primary. He was at prep school from reception to y4 where he learned French twice a week from year 1. He doesn't remember any of the prior French he learned, and yet they covered a huge amount of topics and vocabulary. I don't know if it's because he hadn't used French for 18months or what, but it certainly made me think about the validity of it. Also my eldest, prep school educated and now y9 in state grammar is 'bored to tears' by French. Because he has done it for 8 years and obviously it's been really repetitive. Current French teacher keeps telling us he could do GCSE early and has predicted top GCSE marks for two years. I don't want to have to tell the teacher that son is so fed up of French he wants to drop it as soon as he can and has no intention of doing GCSE French....

JuliaB


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