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 Post subject: Mandarin GCSE
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:02 pm 
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I wonder if anyone has experience of a non-native speaker and Mandarin GCSE? DD is determined to do it and does have a wonderful teacher, but I read in the Times that about 90% of children sitting it get an A* because they are native speakers and the exam is very easy for them. The rest get Cs and Ds because they are not native speakers and it is too hard.

I do not want to stop her but as her current ambition is medicine I realise we need good GCSE grades. Any opinions and advice gratefully received, though being a 13-year old girl, I doubt she will listen to any of it!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:58 pm 
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Location: Watford, Herts
Amber wrote:
I wonder if anyone has experience of a non-native speaker and Mandarin GCSE? DD is determined to do it and does have a wonderful teacher, but I read in the Times that about 90% of children sitting it get an A* because they are native speakers and the exam is very easy for them. The rest get Cs and Ds because they are not native speakers and it is too hard.

Here's the article you're referring to, I think: Mandarin - no easy option.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:13 pm 
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Yes, that's the one. Does anyone have any experience of this? DD is choosing all the really academic subjects and doing 2 extras as well, so I am concerned about the workload and difficulty of Mandarin. I would love to hear from anyone whose DC has done it.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:40 pm 
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Know a friend's DD did it & was only subject didn't do well in.

Does sound like a great deal of work to be doing so much.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:13 pm 
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I have no experiene of mandarin but is there some way that exam boards know / note if a child is a native speaker? Presumably this is the same for other languages too, that a native speaker finds it very easy.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:24 pm 
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I have actually taught a MFL to A level and the exam boards can tell if a child is a native speaker. They hear the tapes that teachers make of oral exams, and often it is obvious from the written work too. I have seen examiners' reports where they will say 'native speakers tended to do x'. But of course, they still have to be marked on what they do, and they do, on the whole, all get top grades, even when they aren't that able generally. Essentially the exams are not designed for native speakers but they cannot be prevented from taking them!

I think this is more polarised with a language like Mandarin, which is so very different from European languages.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:51 pm 
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This is only what I have heard previously - maybe on this forum - native speakers tend to get A* and other children tend to get a C. However, non-native friend did it recently and also Japanese and got A* in both. Had a small amount of experience of living in both though.

DS is studying Mandarin for fun, but the school do not offer it to GCSE.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:18 pm 
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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7012667.ece

Something else to throw into the arena...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:00 am 
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I read the Times daily and the article you quote there, EM, has spawned a lot of debate, from both sides of the ring. Just to make it clear, I have no real idea whether the general study of Mandarin is A Good Thing, though I do like to see children studying languages and the same old insistence on French (why?) does grind me down - I don't really know why there isn't more Russian and German taught, even Arabic and Japanese, but then I would say that!

My only real concern is whether the exam is so hard and the study so onerous that I should be mounting a big anti-Mandarin campaign here. Mind, you, then she'd have to do French... :?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:05 am 
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Can't really help except to say that my daughters' school is offering it for the first time this year.We won't know for 2 years how it goes though :?(she's not opting for it)
That said, I would be very surprised if they hadn't thought it through/researched it very carefully....


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