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 Post subject: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:40 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:26 pm
Posts: 342
My son will be starting year 7 at our local grammar school next Sept (all being well on March 1st. The school is a specialist language school so the boys need to choose to study 2 foreign languages. This choice has to be made before starting. The choices are Spanish, Italian, French, German and mandarin Chinese. I was wondering what other peoples experiences have been with studying these. What do we need to find out or think about to help us decide??

Many thanks for any input


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:19 pm
Posts: 6255
DS1 is lucky enough to have an aptitude for languages (he didn't get it from me!). At his prep school he studied French from yr 3 and Spanish from yr 5 and loved both of them. Now at GS he has had to drop Spanish as they only offer French in Yr 7 and he will pick up German in Yr 8. I would have preferred Spanish to German.

I would give serious consideration to Spanish - an awful lot of people speak it! but I am sure that some linguists will be along in a moment to give more educated advice.


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:22 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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Sorry doodles - but I would give serious consideration to avoiding Spanish!

Spanish is now very widely studied and does tend to be viewed by some as the option for the less able linguists. It is certainly the 'easiest' option of those you list; but might have less standing as a choice later on when, alas, GCSE grades start to matter. Italian stands out there as unusual so if you incline to the Latino, why not go for that instead? As a German graduate I am naturally biased in that direction - but it is a good solid choice and also a good way into any grammar-heavy languages he might want to study later (Russian - oh beauty of all languages; Latin, Greek) so I would also consider that. My DD has just started her 4th year of Mandarin and loves it - it is very different from any other language and to me looks impossibly hard, given its character-based script which looks like art work - and indeed some of the arty children are very good at it. If this were me: German and Italian, probably, or German and Mandarin. But do check out the progression and options for further study - you don't want to get to Year 10 and then be told they only do French and Spanish at GCSE.


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:19 pm
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Interesting Amber - DH (the one who passed on the linguistic gene - he is a French speaker) also did a crash course in Mandarin and really enjoyed it - he also really likes German (and did Spanish as a little light relief at evening class!)

Do you think this is why they are introducing Spanish at primary school - because it is easier to learn?

I did Italian 'o' level (being the non-linguist) and actually found it easier than French which I hated!


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:46 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:14 pm
Posts: 612
Location: essex
My son and daughter have both recently started Mandarin as an extra curricular course, working towards an exam , not GCSE but something similar and absolutely love it.

My daughter also does French and German and hugely prefers German. I have just been to a presentation at her school about the IB , Russian will be an option and apparently those who love German and Latin will also love Russian. Despite being three years off she is already getting excited at the prospect.


As an aside and a message to Amber, my mother is currently in Kiev with her Russian teacher. She took it up at 70 with a retired GCHQ Russian tutor, they have become firm friends and are currently visiting the teacher's family in the Ukraine having gone all the way on a bus without a loo, that is dedication to a language.


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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Very interesting Marigold. I wonder if I know the tutor...?
As longstanding junkies of this forum know, I am a big Russian fan. Your daughter is lucky to be able to look forward to studying it (I teach it in dribs and drabs here, but there is no great appetite for it). And good for your mother.

Doodles : don't know why Spanish is gaining popularity in primaries (hadn't noticed) - but it is good if it breaks the illogical stranglehold of French. Nothing against it, or the country - and especially not the wine or cheese - but I really have no idea why it is so widespread. It isn't even especially easy.


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:18 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:47 am
Posts: 3310
Location: Warwickshire.
With reference to your last comment Amber, I suspect that French is most commonly taught in primary schools because that is the language that teachers are mire familiar with - primary teachers that is. Certainly that is why I teach it! Also, as a local development group, we agreed it would be the language taught to all in the local area so that children were sent from various feeder schools to the high school having had similar languages experience.
Out of French, German and Latin, I always preferred French. My son does those and has just started Greek and, despite not being a linguist, prefers the less modern languages.
Using mobile so I hope my typing is okay...


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:05 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:08 pm
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I think your problem monstermum is that none of us are going to agree!

Personally I would go for 2 of Spanish, German or Italian.
French is widely taught, but found difficult/disliked by many. Mandarin is interesting but I have heard it is very hard to get a high grade at GCSE unless you are a native speaker, (however if unlikely to continue beyond year 9 this may not be a problem)

My DC's primary teaches Spanish, which they have all enjoyed.

DS1 does French and hates it. (prefers Latin and Greek)

Unfortunately the enjoyment or otherwise of any language is hugely influenced by the teacher. DS turned down German because of previous experience of one of the teachers. However as you have to choose before starting this is difficult to judge. Do you know any local parents to ask?


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:52 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:19 pm
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Minesatea wrote:
Unfortunately the enjoyment or otherwise of any language is hugely influenced by the teacher.


I think you have hit the nail on the head here - the teacher makes such a huge difference.


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 Post subject: Re: MFL
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:19 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:42 pm
Posts: 3813
Location: Chelmsford and pleased
I would agree with the Mandarin being very difficult at GCSE. DS takes it and loves it but his qualification is not GCSE. He is taking his second year now and thoroughly enjoys it.

Regarding Spanish being easy - maybe. But at GCSE the grade boundaries are much higher than those in French, which makes it as difficult to get the top grades.

Regarding French I think that the number of Brits living in France says that the country still has a huge appeal for us as a nation. It is an easy country for a language exchange as it doesn't involve long flights and 1 day/2 day language visits are viable.


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