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 Post subject: French worries
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:34 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:23 am
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Location: Buckinghamshire
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that my Y8 DS knows no French. He struggles to string together a simple sentence of 5 words in the present tense, doesn't know how to decline the most basic verbs, and has very limited vocab.
None of this is especially surprising, as he does absolutely no work in the subject outside lessons, to my irritation. What concerns me slightly is that he is considered to be well above average in his class! He says a lot of the work can be done by spotting patterns, slotting words into a phrase, or joining two halves of a sentence. Does anyone know if this is usual? He'll probably drop French at GCSE, but I would like to think a bit more was expected by the end of KS3.


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:41 am 
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Hi Wurzel - Hopefully someone who has more expert knowledge will help us here... i know what you mean.

I seem to have more luck getting round France with my 36 year old grade B O level french than my kids who have been studying it more recently in KS3.... maybe it is just that I have given up being embarassed when I get it wrong! :roll: however I suspect that there is less vocab and less oral french being taught?


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:51 am 
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I too am surprised by now little my year 7 appears to know and yet is deemed to be doing well.It doesn't seem very systematic to me.Lots of vocab but none of the underpinning grammmar until much later.For example - they have just learned to conjugate avoir and etre.These seem foundational to me.Obviously they have used those verbs but already in the formed sense e.g "est" and usually for an oral test which goes in the head for the test and out the otherside at the end of lessons... :roll:
If it is any consolation my year 9 seems to know what she is doing ..now! Maybe they just teach it differently to how we would expect :?


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:09 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:00 pm
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Location: Wales
Quote:
He struggles to string together a simple sentence of 5 words in the present tense, doesn't know how to decline the most basic verbs, and has very limited vocab.


You are describing my DD's level of French when she took her GCSE! :shock: :shock: :shock:

She got a grade B :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

The subject is nothing like it used to be. Orals can be exactly planned and practised as much as you like beforehand. As Wurzel says, other parts comprise slotting words in (with pictures to help) and joining sentences. Much of the vocab needed is provided. :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:33 pm
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I think the teaching of modern foreign languages is indeed very formulaic. To take one example - Miss Magwich did spanish GCSE last year. She would be the first to admit that she is no linguist and only spent one unfortunate week on the spanish exchange visit(!). She obtained an A* by revising in the most cynical fashion imaginable, slotting in words, tenses and phrases that she knew would impress!
Another child we know of with a spanish parent and completely fluent in the language got an A. Says it all really!
It was for these reasons that mother in law (ex head of MFL at a grammar school) enthusiastically took early retirement shortly after the introduction of GCSEs!


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:24 am 
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I don’t know about everyone else, but DS hardly seems to have any French lessons. In Y9 now and I think he only has 1 a week (possibly 2?). It’s no wonder they don’t progress that fast…

He did no revision for his Y9 exam at all because he isn’t going on with it to GCSE, but still managed over 70%. Very strange.


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:34 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:31 am
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My year 7 daughter is learning to cobble sentences together from examples in her French textbook. She knows that to get an A she needs to insert as many adjectives as possible (she didn't initially grasp that she also needs to copy the examples accurately, but we've worked on that). She doesn't always know what each word means, or from which part of speech they are. I have taught her to conjugate Etre & Avoir, told her what an infinitive is and generally harrumphed around like a francophone dinosaur, but she seems to find it quite helpful.

Learning stock phrases doesn't seem like a bad place to start learning oral French, but it seems very hard to write without understanding what the words mean, how they fit together, and when and why they might change.

On the other hand, in German, which I don't know at all, she seems to be getting a more solid grammatical foundation and is finding it a lot easier. She already plans to take German at GCSE, but I'm concerned that a change of teacher later on might leave her at sea with that as well, without parental back-up.

Starting two languages at once seems a lot to ask too - I have 4 language 'O' levels, dead and alive, but am grateful I only started one in my first year of secondary.


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:23 am
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Location: Buckinghamshire
It was an oral test today that revealed the extent of the problem. One minute on 'my hobbies', to be written and practised in advance, and you would think the end of the world had come. I have to restrain myself from correcting it all. Some parents no doubt do this, so I find it strange that the children are allowed to prepare at home.
Thanks for all the replies. It's comforting, then, that DS is not alone, but a bit depressing that he might leave school with barely enough French to buy a croissant on holiday!
CM you are right. I should have said conjugate verbs, not decline. My excuse is that I was educated in the '70s, and did not learn much formal grammar myself!


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:00 am 
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This is all so encouraging :D ! I thought it was just Master 1880 (at the moment we're trying to motivate him to work on French by warning him that if he doesn't put his back into it he'll finish up with the school giving him "extra support" - i.e. even more French). Unfortunately he can't drop it until after GCSE.

Mike


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:15 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:12 am
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Location: Berkshire
We have been in the same boat with all 3 of my older children, two of whom eventually after mistakes about cakes and castles managed to scrape Cs at GCSE, after another D in the oral I expect the third one will be equally lucky ( although maybe not :cry: ) in her GCSE this year. Thank goodness it is all over is all I can think of to say, French has been a resounding disaster in LFH land.

I have to hasten to add, the C in the language has made no difference whatsoever to the older two's university applications :lol:

The youngest has to take German, no choice of French, and I am so glad. :lol: If the others could have dropped French they would have been none the more knowledgeable and also quite a lot less stressed :roll:


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