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

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:35:30

admission she is the only one

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:46:39

Regardless she should not be in a class years and years behind her ability level- what a waste of time for all concerned. The teacher should be setting her completely different work of her own, and if that is not possible then she should be allowed to sit in the library and catch up with other work instead. Differentiation is the watchword right through school, so it is totally inappropriate for the school to put an advanced speaker into a class full of beginners and expect her to learn next to nothing for the next 5 years. This seems as much an issue as the bullying.

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:51:14

Having just read yr last post, I'd be v surprised if the issue was coasting here. If they have just started learning Spanish, it is going to be unimaginably tedious for your dd to sit through 'hola my name is' kind of stuff for lesson after lesson. Secondary language teaching is pretty dumbed down at the best of times, so it's going to be years and years of the basics ahead.

bran Fri 04-Jan-13 17:04:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 17:05:17

I have to agree with libelulle. I am a MFL teacher, and have native speakers in a few of my classes (international school). I try to find them work that is special to them but on a similar theme when appropriate (realing and listening mostly), or use differentiation by outcome for writing and speaking tasks (eg. they will produce an expended essay, beginners a blank-fill writing task).

I hate to judge and generalise, but I have found that native teachers from both France and Spain tend towards a very traditional, rote method of teaching, which is considered démodé in UK teaching now. It is much harder to differentiate if you are expecting pupils to listen and repeat, or learn to memorise passages than if you are playing games and using active learning. Of course, this may not be the problem.

If I were you I wouldn't pussyfoot around with the "how can we help her pronunciation" thing, I would be more forthright and ask for a meeting with the classroom teacher and HoD (not HoY), and come prepared with some questions, the main ones being 'how are you differentiating for my DD?' and 'how can you improve on this?'

She might struggle to answer these questions, so it might be worth considering some suggestions. Do the school subscribe to journals or magazines? Or do they have novels in Spanish that she could read? What websites do they have subscriptions for? If she is almost fluent, they will have work suitable for A level students (perhaps not the abortion euthanasia stuff, but some would be relevant). But actually, I would seriously consider pressing for early entry GCSE Spanish, and for her to take French from year 8. Primary French won't have made much difference with her levels - she should settle into a y8 French class in September without any problems.

It is not appropriate that she is completing the same work as beginners; neither is it OK for the teacher to belittle her different accent. Please feel free to PM me or ask any questions on this thread if I can be of any help with practical suggestions.

mrsshackleton Fri 04-Jan-13 17:34:28

I used to teach English in Italy in a state secondary school. Some of the teachers spoke terrible English and loathed me because they were frightened I'd pick them up on their mistakes (I never did, horrible as it was to hear them passing on mistakes to the children). A couple made my life a misery

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 17:44:19

"I hate to judge and generalise, but I have found that native teachers from both France and Spain tend towards a very traditional, rote method of teaching, which is considered démodé in UK teaching now. It is much harder to differentiate if you are expecting pupils to listen and repeat, or learn to memorise passages than if you are playing games and using active learning."

And who gets better results in MFL, the English, the French or the Spanish?

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 17:47:30

No, bran - there's no such thing as a standard Spanish accent, although I'm quite sure the people of Madrid would beg to differ. There's no such thing as a standard English accent for the same reason - the language is spoken in far too many countries, never mind regions, worldwide.

The accent the OP is referring to can be quite hard to understand because of the swallowing of letters (a bit like cockney but on steroids) but it seems like the DD is aware of this and trying to make sure she speaks more clearly than she would, say, with a bunch of fellow teens in Murcia.

Spanish also has a highly diverse vocabulary - for example a lot of words for fruit and vegetables differ between countries (often because the local word has been adopted into Spanish). Thus there's plenty to get grips with beyond accent when speaking to people in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world smile Latin Americans will normally (but nicely) rip the piss out of Spanish people for using the lisping "thetheo" version of Spanish which is not generally spoken there - I don't use thetheo now except for words which are inextricably linked to Spain for me, like Jerez and Aranjuez.

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 17:58:58

Bonsoir, I don't know, but none of the three are exactly distinguished by their foreign language proficiency!! I'm surprised to see you defending French traditionalism. I'm a product of both systems and can see the good in both but if you look at the product of Anglo-Saxon v. Continental universities, if push came up shove I'd go anglosaxon all the way! But sorry for the thread derail op!

admission Fri 04-Jan-13 21:33:08

If she is the only one coming to the front of the class then it is time to talk to the head of languages and if necessary escalate to the head teacher, it is personal and therefore unacceptable.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 22:18:00

When it comes to the teaching of MFL, I am a huge traditionalist!

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 23:01:26

Hmm, I wonder. Whatever the Germans do, that's what we should do! The French and the English are both rubbish at languages, therefore I conclude both systems must be crapsmile Seriously though, to caricature slightly, one seems to encourage understanding of obscure grammar above actually functioning in the language, and the other tries to encourage functioning without ensuring a basic grounding in the structure of the language. Neither are exactly conducive to fluency.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 02:51:15

"And who gets better results in MFL, the English, the French or the Spanish?"

I'm not sure you can equate. The fact is (I think?) we're talking about a UK school with UK students and UK curriculum.

Someone mentioned Germany. Yes. We absolutely should be teaching languages all through schools and placing a high importance on their learning. It's such a shame that the Conservative scrapped that policy as soon as they got in.

whiteflame Sat 05-Jan-13 08:25:00

A bit off topic, but my DH is German, and we've tried to figure out what makes MFL learning so much better in Germany. So far we've come up with 3 things.

First, the teachers run their classes from (almost) day 1 completely in English. No explaining things in German, no talking to your classmates in the native language. Once you're through the door you speak/are spoken to in the language you're learning. DH was quite shocked that this wasn't my experience.

Second, there is an attitude that learning the language is actually necessary - that you will need to be able to function with the language during your life. This means that your parents/school will place the same emphasis on the MFL as maths, science, etc.

Third is the level of exposure. German kids hear English songs on the radio, and see English TV from a young age. There are also regular high school exchanges to England (and France) with homestays where the hosts don't speak your native language.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 09:38:56

The French are not as bad at English or Spanish as the British are at MFL. All French bac général candidates do two MFL to 18 (mostly English and Spanish - and Spanish is quite well taught in France) and many DCs can actually speak English at the end of this, as well as other languages.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 09:43:42

But, Bonsoir, you're not comparing like for like. If we taught MFL as a compulsory subject from primary to 18 I bet we'd get better results too.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 09:48:31

I am comparing results with results, and then we can work out which teaching system ends up with better results!

LadyMargolotta Sat 05-Jan-13 09:55:39

Good post whiteflame. You are probably right.

tribpot - DD1 was taught French by a Spaniard with a degree from Glasgow - her accent was "interesting" smile.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 10:54:14

What results with what results? gibberish

libelulle Sat 05-Jan-13 11:10:37

Well not really bonsoir. You can't compare the efficacy of 'traditional' and 'modern' ways of learning languages if one system teaches traditional ways for 12 years and 6 hours a week and the other modern ways for 5 years and 2 hours!

I'm with you that France teaches Spanish well. English? Well I have a zillion aunts, uncles and cousins and they all studied English at school. Only one of them can actually speak more than a few words, and that's because he's a businessman and learnt it as an adult.

ninani Sat 05-Jan-13 11:41:17

OP, I think admission gave you the best advice that you need. Directly to the point!!!! Picking her out is discriminating and humiliating. Also if you ask the teacher for "advice" she will feel justified in what she already does and might even intensify it. In her eyes your daughter is already "wrong" and deserves such treatement just because she has a regional accent. Don't feed her methods.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 12:12:32

libellule - it is not really very useful to compare the English the generation above you learned in France with what the French English children are learning in England today...

I know an awful lot of French children at lycée now...

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 12:47:25

Bonsoir, you are very stubbornly missing the point. We can only compare modern teaching methods with traditional if we have all other factors the same. Probably the best way of doing this would be to find a private school in the UK that prioritises MFL but insists on modern teaching methods, then we can compare it with students at a collège or a lycée in France. Do you have that data to hand? No?

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 14:17:24

I'm not missing the point at all and I am 100% certain that my experience of MFL teaching methods across countries and generations is a lot greater than yours smile

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