DD and her Spanish teacher. GRRRR!!!!

(67 Posts)
drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 14:50:50

DD speaks (almost) fluent spanish (Murcia). she's in yr7 and her Spanish teacher seems to really dislike her. We (her & I) accept that her accent is regional but everyone else in her class is learning Spanish from scratch. Rather than praise DD for what she does know, teacher is forever putting DD1 down for her accent (knows the right words and verbs but tends to drop her sounds because of the regional accent she has developed). DD has won her school entry for the national Spanish spelling Bee but teacher still will not give her any credit.

When, in class, they have certain exercises the teacher will constantly make DD repeat and repeat her sentences til she sounds out every sound whereas another student can stumble through with (really bad) annunciation and get loads of praise.

Is this a case of the teacher pushing DD or does she really dislike her for her already formed accents and idea (as in practical rather than text book spanish)

DD started this school 3 weeks into term, and as soon as the teacher knew DD knew some spanish she seemed to immediately challenge her

AuntFini Fri 04-Jan-13 14:57:01

How odd. I'm a German teacher and I have a year 7 who is almost fluent, but who has a very strong bavarian accent. I would never correct his regional accent. I learnt German in Berlin and I don't automatically think that my pronunciation is any more correct that his. Maybe the teacher feels threatened by your dd? (Inexcusable as she's 11/12 , but that's all I can think of)

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 15:00:10

She may be uncomfortable knowing that she knows more Spanish than herself perhaps?

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 15:03:32

Yes, I wondered the same as AuntFini. My half-sister (native English speaker) grew up in the Netherlands and one of her friends (also native English speaker) went to a Dutch school and had a dreadful time in one of his English classes because the teacher really took against him.

Picking on the accent is totally unacceptable - I have a degree in Spanish and there's no way anyone would get marked down for an accent. I have Spanish friends who learnt English in Glasgow - and it obviously showed in their accent! That's how it goes.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 15:04:05

I think I tend to agree. Fortunately I have a Spanish friend who knows DD1 very well and she is due to come into DDs spanish class for the new term as an assistant. She really champions my DD so am hoping she might restore some balance.

I really do appreciate the different dialects and accents, and it's not helped when DD does challenge her teacher. The teacher is Spanish but from the North, and I know from personal experience that they can be very stubborn from region to region. However, my DD has always known that the Murcian style to drop many sounds is not always correct and she's more than willing to learn 'text book' rather than local. Just so sad teacher can't give her the confidence and praise she deserves.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 15:38:37

Interesting OP. I went into Y7 with almost fluent German, having lived there for several years. My teacher behaved similarly to how you describe, although perhaps not so extreme. I always thought she was just a grumpy cow grin, but maybe there is a reason... do they perhaps not want the rest of the class picking up a regional accent?

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 15:42:01

If the teacher is Spanish herself, it doesn't seem likely that she is threatened by your DD. Maybe annoyed that your DD is challenging a native speaker, IYSWIM? I get challenged by non-native (but practically fluent) English speakers sometimes, and it is very annoying.

If she has specific questions, perhaps she could go and talk to the teacher at break/after class.

Muminwestlondon Fri 04-Jan-13 16:04:31

An urgent phone call to the head of year/head of dept is in order I think. Sorry if that sounds confrontational but it is absolutely outrageous that your dd should be treated like that. I think some ground rules need to be set out. If it is not simple bullying what exactly is the teacher trying to achieve and is she going the best way about it?

Delayingtactic Fri 04-Jan-13 16:11:31

Is there a way to get in touch with teacher? I wonder whether she's pushing your daughter to get the best out of her, but she might just be a grumpy cow.

When native language teaching came in in SA, our school taught Zulu. We had a guy in our class who was native Zulu and the teacher (learnt as second language, white as snow woman) tore strips off him for 'incorrect pronounciation'. It was excruciating to watch. I know that obviously there were racial issues at play as well, but I think she in addition hated the idea of anyone questioning her ability.

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 16:11:58

Is the OP's dd challenging the teacher, whiteflame? I read it as the teacher challenging the dd in the final para of the opening post.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:12:12

Muminwestlondon I did wonder if I should approach someone, but it's so hard moving up from primary, where you have direct and regular contact with teachers, to secondary where I don't want to fight DDs battles nor be labelled as a pushy parent. I guess I'm still trying to work out how involved I really should be (instinct was to phone and discuss but don't want to make the situation any worse nor draw unnecessary attention onto DD)

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:14:11

I was in the same situation as a child, though not with Spanish. I think some teachers just find kids who are way ahead of the curve for whatever reason incredibly threatening. As a teacher of sorts myself I find this attitude totally incomprehensible, but it does exist. I have to ask, though - If your dd is nearly fluent in a class of beginners, should she be there at all? She can hardly be getting much out of it. In her situation I just switched to German instead, which was way more valuable than sitting bored stiff for the next 3 years+.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 16:19:22

Tribpot, I read it in the second paragraph of the OP's second post (at 15:04). Possibly the OP didn't mean challenging in the strong sense of the word, but I don't think any challenging will help things here.

I second maybe having a chat with the teacher, maybe more general things at first like "could you recommend some books/films DD could read/watch", and sort of gauge her reaction, and maybe get her side of things.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:19:29

DD won't challenge the teacher but will stand up for herself. She understands the dialect she has learnt is not totally correct (think East End/Glaswegian Versus the 'Queens English'). we have always told her this so she understands her 'tardiness' needs correcting. But she will not repeat the same sentence several times when she knows she has already pronounced each and every sound, and is stood in front of her class (others in her class admire her and acknowledge she is doing well) I think she objects to what she perceives as some attempt at humiliation.

I can see a time though when DD will confront the teacher through sheer frustration)

ZZZenAgain Fri 04-Jan-13 16:20:24

I think you need to take this up with the school on your dd'Sa behalf. To me frankly it does sound like an attempt at humiliation

JenaiMorris Fri 04-Jan-13 16:22:33

I think it would be worth having a chat with the teacher, really I do. Explain that your daughter is upset, ask if there's anything you can do to help, acknowledge that maybe your daughter is misconstruing things. The teacher might have no idea. Or indeed she might be a horrible cow in which case she still needs to stop doing this!

If this were ds's school I'd drop her an email and ask to come in for a chat. Obviously processes to getting in touch with teachers differ between (and indeed within) schools though.

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 16:24:35

Sorry whiteflame, yes, you're right.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 16:25:33

In that case drivinmecrazy, I would definitely talk to the teacher (and head of year if no joy). You could say something like, "DD seems to be having trouble with her pronunciation. Could you give me some pointers on how to help her, because getting her to repeat everything several times in front of the class is obviously not working." And then listen to what she has to say/watch her squirm wink

It really does sound horrible.

MiniEggsinJanuary Fri 04-Jan-13 16:26:16

How odd. Teacher is probably trying to make herself feel more proficient by belittling the talents of a 11/12 year old!

admission Fri 04-Jan-13 16:28:03

The question for me is whether other pupils have to go to the front of the class. stand there and pronounce each and every sound. If they do then I think I would tend towards your DD being over sensitive and needing to accept that it might be below her ability but that everybody is being treated equally. If however she is the only one who has to do this, then that is definitely a cause for concern and needs you to ask a few questions at school, maybe starting with the head of languages.

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:30:18

Sorry to press the point again - I'm sure challenging the teacher might make her stop the bullying, but it is never going to make the class an appropriate one for your dd. As someone who remembers sitting almost crying with boredom over a 'for first year beginners' textbook when I was reading entire novels at home, I'd be tackling the bigger question of why the school think it is appropriate for a near native speaker to be sitting in the same class as total beginners. It isn't!

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 16:32:29

Sadly, I have heard of other cases (in more than one country) of MFL teachers picking on pupils who speak the language in question better than, or differently to, them.

I think you need to talk to the teacher to get her view on your DD and then, depending on what happens, you might need to go above her.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:33:14

libelulle she's at a school that teaches Spanish and French up to yr 9. She's pretty fortunate in French too in that her primary taught French from yr1.

I think I will send teacher a friendly E-mail, asking for advise on any areas she feels DD really needs to work on.

I think my DD also doesn't understand that her teachers in yr7 are pushing her a bit more than at primary, where she completely coasted. Maybe an important lesson for her to learn.

weegiemum Fri 04-Jan-13 16:34:03

As far as I'm aware the teacher should be looking for consistency over anything. I learnt a lot of French when my mum and stepdad lived in Toulouse in s. France and I'd a ghastly accent but my teacher said as long as I didn't mix it in with parisienne French I'd be fine - and I was.

It sounds like the teacher is being very unprofessional (I'm a teacher). One of my dd1's friends is a native French speaker (her dad is French though she and her mum live in Glasgow now, dad still in France). They're in s1 (=y7) and dds friend is sitting her higher French this year (normally done in s5 = y11) and school have totally facilitated this. That's what I'd hope would happen for your dd. My dc go to a bilingual school already so they're very language aware but there's no excuse for your dd being run down because she can already speak Spanish!!

Is there a more challenging Spanish class your daughter could be put in? I was fairly fluent in Spanish, and the school gave me additional work at my level to help me maintain the standards I was at. Maybe that is something to ask about too?

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