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 Post subject: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:17 pm
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Is it very important these days to have a foreign language for your GCSE.? It is not compulsory in my DS's school so he is wondering if he should choose it as he is not very good with languages. Any advice would be appreciated and any information on some useful websites for added help.


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:41 am 
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Hi SN. If you trawl back across this GCSE forum you will see plenty of discussion on the merits of foreign languages. I will tell you straight away that as a linguist and teacher I am hopelessly biased, but I would urge you to give foreign languages some serious consideration. This is for 3 reasons:
1. Some 'good' universities are already starting to ask for them as a way of discriminating the mass of very able candidates;
2. There are moves in some circles to make languages compulsory again, and if this does happen, there will potentially be a 'lost group' in the middle who didn't do them and may be diasavantaged by this;
3. There is an intrinsic value in the study of another language, which allows you an insight into the life and culture of others in a way no other subject can.


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:40 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:57 pm
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Last edited by Belinda on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:52 am 
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I take the opposite view. "He is not very good at" is often hand in hand with "he doesn't enjoy". If that's the case, and if there's an alternative that he is good at and does enjoy, then he should take the alternative. In my day it didn't matter if you got a few poor grades or failed a few. That's no longer always the case, there can be a risk in taking a subject "he is not very good at". There is really no benefit in taking a subject he might get a mediocre grade in if he could take something else he would excel at.

(And I hardly think GCSE French is going to open up any startling insights into French life and culture.)

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:13 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:17 pm
Posts: 46
Thank you for all the replies and the valuable information. We will have to consider it very carefully. His teacher says he can do it with a bit of hard work, but if we are looking at an A* it might be an issue. If obtaining a lower result is not an issue then it does not seem to be a problem.


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:43 pm 
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.


Last edited by Belinda on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:13 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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What an excellent post Belinda! :D
Nothing really to add other than my old chestnut...early specialisation. We do it here before anywhere else in the world pretty much, this allowing children to drop subjects they either do not like or are not good at or both. And it isn't necessarily for the best...the level of 'roundedness' of an education can be questioned if some things are missing, and I would say that a foreign language is one of those things. Quite a few 'experts' also take the view that we are lagging behind competitors economically because of o ur unwillingness as a nation to learn foreign languages, and while yes Mike, of course a French GCSE won't necessarily give you much insight into French culture, you could make the same argument for Biology and mitochondrial DNA or Physics and nuclear fusion...but you have to start somewhere and an open mind combined with a broad sweep of subjects is as good a place as any.


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:52 pm 
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Belinda wrote:
Many children don’t like a musical instrument, dancing, or a sport because they are not very good at it. I wouldn’t encourage my children to avoid these things because they are not good at them! Several years of club attendance, encouragement and careful, considerate support and many go on to thrive – and very much enjoy things they once disliked because they weren’t good at them. Know the difference and make sure your son knows the difference.


There's a world of difference between "encouraging" a (say) 7yo to pick up a musical instrument while you (more or less) stand over them and make them stick at it until they get good enough at it to enjoy it, and making a potentially stroppy and hormonal 13-14yo choose something which will occupy the next 2 years and where you will be absent and largely oblivious to what's happening for 99% of the time. "Know which battles are worth fighting" is another worthwhile and rather obvious sentence to apply here.

It's why I chose to ask whether he enjoys French. If he does (or is prepared to work at it because it may open up opportunities he wants to pursue) then by all means choose French. But if he doesn't/isn't, and especially if it means he has to drop something he does like, then it may all be a waste of time.

It's not as simple as cooing "ooh yes, a language is always a good idea" as some here are prone to do. Not everyone enjoys languages, some people have no talent for them and, to be brutally honest, most people have little or no use for them. Nor is a GCSE in any way a prerequisite to learning French or a love of French culture and life (quite the reverse in most cases, I suspect!). The poster is best placed to know whereabouts in all this his/her own child lies.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:21 pm 
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I would further add that it depends on what the choice is between. DD effectively had to choose between an MFL or triple science – given that she wants to do science at A level and beyond, although she was disappointed to stop French, the alternative was a better fit. If she had wanted to do, say, food tech instead, I might have tried harder to persuade her to stick with the MFL…

FWIW, though, I agree with everything Amber says about our DCs having to specialise too early. Would much prefer that they could keep their options open for longer


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 Post subject: Re: French
PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:26 pm 
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IMHO a school which makes a child choose between a language and 3 sciences has got something wrong. Though it is of course perfectly possible to do A level sciences with the dual award science, and many do, I can see it is a difficult choice for an able child.


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