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 Post subject: MFL choices for Year 8
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:10 pm
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DD has to make her MFL choices for Year 8 (which I guess will define her options for MFL at GCSE). I wondered if anyone has any advice what to consider.
At the moment she is only doing French, but needs to choose two out of French, Spanish, German and Mandarin (she can drop French).
She’s not keen on Spanish (bad experience at primary school) or French (in part because arrived at secondary never having studied it and most others were way ahead). Always wanted to do German (likes the sounds, I think!) and is intrigued by Mandarin (Possibly as is closest choice available to Japanese, which she really wants to learn)
Teachers have always said she is a potentially able linguist – but she hasn’t had much chance to show it – but not overtly keen on MFL.
So is German and Mandarin a wise choice. Would it limit things going forward/close off options? Is no French (or Spanish) a worry? Are German and Mandarin “hard choices” (so that doing two might not be a sensible commitment?
Any views welcome!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:27 pm 
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
DD had similar choice but had to keep up the French and at first wasn't keen but is now finding French something she loves so is pleased she had no option to drop it. She dropped Latin as she just couldn't get all the declensions. She started German and Mandarin in Y8 ab initio and isn't finding them too difficult. They don't complement one another one jot but in a way as they are so different it helps compartmentalise each language rather than French and Spanish that are similar and DD found confusing when she studied them in primary at the same time. One of those that DD is studying is as a twilight course so isn't in the day-to-day curriculum but done at lunchtime and after school. So three languages in Y8 seems do-able for an able child. Whether that is the same for GCSE I don't know. DD likes all three and next year needs to decide whether she drops one or keeps all three up.

DD doesn't have to continue these after end of Y9 so it gives her time and opportunity to try out and decide (by this time next year) which she likes so that takes the pressure off so it wasn't a GCSE choice, it does seem early to be making that decision in Y7 for languages you've maybe never done but I am assuming there will be time for your DD to decide later which she continues with.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:59 pm 
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
Just to add to my comments above, I did look at the trips associated with each language option too. DD did have the choice of Japanese but didn't want to do that plus Mandarin. I was relieved as the trip to China is mega bucks and I couldn't have done that plus a Japan trip. The German trip is more than the Spanish one. Out of all the choices she had she managed to mostly pick the more expensive trips (not that they are compulsory for her but I'd like her to experience them if possible) so just another thing to think about. This is in a state school too.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:03 pm 
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Location: Reading
It’s entriely possible that if she doesn’t get on with French and Spanish, that german will appeal as it’s quite different.

DD is doing gcse german. Despite doing a little French at primary, she has always preferred german. I suspect partly because she has reasons to learn (some german family though she hasnt been brought up speaking german) and partly because she loved both the german teachers and didn’t really gel with the French teacher she knew she would get if she did gcse.

I personally find it easier to get the gist of german than I do French, despite actually doing French at school.

Unless she wants to do a degree in say French at some point, then choice of language isn’t really going to make an impact.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:56 pm 
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Thanks, that's all very helpful. I hadn't considered that Mandarin and German, being so different, might actually be a help in keeping the languages from getting confused (as might be the case with French and Spanish).

Very hard to peer into the future to know what DD might be interested in for GCSE/A Levels/Uni but I do have niggling worry about dropping French. I'm not sure there's a ready pathway back into it at Year 9 (especially as Yr 7 would have been her only year of the language).


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:08 pm 
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DS is studying German and Japanese (loves both) - I can confirm there is absolutely no scope for confusion :lol: She should go for the ones which interest her most. I studied French and German at university and enjoyed them for different reasons, but preferred German for its very logical grammar. Once German word order has been learnt, it will never be forgotten! I am also the human German-English dictionary for two of my DCs currently studying it. If she decided at a later date to pick up French again, that is also possible. DD1 has applied to study two languages at university, one of which is ab initio.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:15 pm 
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No right answer, but don't fall into the 'Spanish is really useful in the real world' trap. It may well be, but GCSE Spanish won't. Year 8 languages are going to be very superficial and more of a taster for what might come. No point in worrying about higher level yet.

As a linguist myself I would say she must choose what interests her. If she wants to pick up other languages later, she can. Many universities offer languages as part of other degrees now - my DD has picked one up in a totally unrelated degree and it will feature on her final certificate as she has studied it in such depth. My plan for when I finish my doctorate, if I ever do, is to learn Arabic. Never too old!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:18 pm 
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Dd is ok at languages but absolutely does not love them. She definitely got very confused when she was doing French and Spanish and is finding it so much easier just doing one.
Ds seems to be even less of a linguist (which is a shame since he wants to live in a francophone country when he grows up :? ) but again is finding the French/Spanish issue a problem. He has another 18 months before he can drop one and I am hoping French becomes easier when it's his only language.
They don't have the offer of Mandarin or Japanese but they sound very exciting languages to learn. I caught 5 minutes of a programme entitled "Why don't you speak English?" last night which was much more interesting and less pejorative than it sounds - in that few minutes anyway - and one of the British couples were being introduced to Mandarin which they were saying was so different from anything they'd learned before.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:41 pm 
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I did a Mandarin taster lesson at one of DD1’s uni open days and loved it. It was amazing how much you could learn about a language in just 30 minutes, probably because of the very engaging native speaker who took the lesson.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:57 pm 
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Thank you - lots of useful advice. It all makes me more inclined just to let her go with her inclinations (which might of course change after the language choice presentation they'll get!).
I wish I'd had the chance to learn Mandarin at school! I only discovered I liked languages after I'd left.


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