GCSE options: should DS do French even though it's his weakest subject?

(45 Posts)

We had tears tonight when I suggested that DS ought to take French as one of his GCSE options. He does struggle with it but I think it is important to have some grasp of a second language. Also I'd like him to do the Ebacc and he will need it for that. He's interested in robotics and computer programming, but the school has decided not to offer computer science this year which has also really disappointed him. If he did continue with French I would try and get a tutor for him, depending on how much it cost, but if he's upset just talking about it is it worth it? Thanks in advance for any advice.

Coconutty Costa Rica Sun 10-Feb-13 15:34:23

RG Do not all want language. DN just started at on in September and had no languages. UCL want one according to website but they don't all. Honestly. Nor do Oxbridge. Check entry requirements.

Waitingaround Sat 09-Feb-13 22:28:18

I had this same issue with my son, in the end we contacted several top RG university's and they all replied that he should choose subjects that he was good at and enjoyed . They also stated that they liked to see high grades across all subjects at gcse, and other than Maths, English and science were not worried about individual subject choices. I think some parent's have been fed a school line about the ebacc as its good for their league table results, the universities Don't care!

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 09-Feb-13 21:41:18

Will he get a C in it? Is that pretty much guaranteed? If not, he really shouldn't do it. It will not be in his best interests, and it will make him miserable.

Russell group universities do ask for a language at GCSE. For example, UCL has a language as one of their standard entry requirements, alongside Maths and English.

Coconutty Costa Rica Sat 09-Feb-13 15:28:33

Don't make him do a language if he doesn't want to. Some of the info you have been given on here is wrong. RG universities do not insist on a language. Nor do Oxbridge.

Let him do a subject he he will enjoy and can get a good grade in.

Reachforthestars16168 Fri 08-Feb-13 21:48:51

Hiya my son was in the same situation with French and doing the ebbacc he went on to do it and has struggled at times but through shear determination and hard work and me helping and supporting him he is getting better and more confident ! I employed a tutor he has one early evening a week after school and I have seen a vast improvement , it is hard for them but when they do achieve they feel more empowered , hopefully it will give him the view as he gets older that if he really puts his mind to anything he will get there in the end !
Good luck with your sons and your decision I know how much of a struggle making it is because you want to do what's right for them , but for my son his friends were doing it and potentially he may of had to change classes if he had not done a language allowing him then to do the ebacc !!!!

Well he's pretty much decided not to take MFL, I'm still uneasy but feel better about it thanks to the input on this thread. He's also going for two Tech subjects, resistant materials and graphic products as well as ICT and Geography (the only one we didn't have any angst about) I'm hoping the tech subjects aren't too similar, I may have to ring school tomorrow as no ones replied to my email about this. (On phone will probably double post, sorry in advance )

cricketballs Wed 16-Jan-13 18:33:59

Whilst I ill agree that for the future that your ds wants that ICT is not the best option it is no longer the 'easy' option that most of mn think wink

There was a period that due to certain qualifications OCR did turn the subject into a laughing stock. The new spec GCSE and BTEC are very relevant and not as easy as some think being able to use facebook is not ICT

If your ds feels that strongly about not taking a subject then I would go with that - its his life/likes/talents the ebacc is just a sledgehammer to hit schools with and not as required as mn will lead you to believe

Biscuitsneeded Wed 16-Jan-13 17:54:56

I'm an MFL teacher, and if I'm being very honest, rather than toeing the party line (which is that languages are for all, an essential skill in the global market etc etc), I have taught too many students at GCSE who have been forced to take a language against their wishes. They do no work, and they are bored, and they end up with a pretty rubbish grade anyway. I wouldn't force him.

Don't get me wrong, I wish more people chose languages, I think it is shameful that as a nation we are so dreadful at bothering with anybody else's language... but unless he is targeting top universities or willing to carry on to A-level and beyond with French, what he will learn at GCSE won't be of particular use to him later on. If there's something he would much rather do I'd let him do it...

vj32 Sat 12-Jan-13 21:55:05

Don't know about robotics/engineering side - but if he wants to concentrate on computer programming he just needs a good maths degree from a top uni - they won't care if he can speak French. (I know someone who recruits graduates for a big IT company.)

Also, as others have said, I got an A in French GCSE, and when I got to France I could ask for a train ticket for the week and that was it. I can also tell you I am going to go on holiday to Spain. Future tense = higher marks (how do I remember that?!?) but absolutely no practical purpose.

And ICT in schools is a spectacular waste of time unless the kids have never seen a computer before. (Having taught some of it a few years ago.)
Whatever they get taught in schools will be out of date by the time they are working. It is far more valuable for people to have the confidence to play with things and work them out for themselves, otherwise you will be going on a training course or having a panic attack every time they bring out a new version of Office. Spending weeks and weeks filling out a spreadsheet is pointless.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Sat 12-Jan-13 18:27:16

Too true, we all need to know how to use Word and Excel, I suppose. smile

I've been telling myself that at least the ICT skills may come in useful if he signs up for agency work if he finds himself in that position at any point in the future.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Sat 12-Jan-13 17:55:34

My DS has similar tastes to your DS, wants to do Maths, Physics, Computer Science and either Chem or Further Maths at A level. He did take French as one of his options, despite not being keen as we had both been persuaded that it might help with university admissions. I'm a little worried that he may fail the GCSE or scrape a 'C' and wondered if that would look strange up against all his predicted 'A' s in his other subjects, as if he didn't try hard at a subject he didn't like? confused

He also does ICT GCSE, and, yes, it's computing for office use, not programming at all. Bit of a waste of time. I'm glad he does Geography and Triple Science to balance it out.

oldebaglady Sat 12-Jan-13 17:46:41

its something you can easily top up later if you need to

oldebaglady Sat 12-Jan-13 17:45:57

I'ld say no. I took languages I was weak at them. I then went to uni where they offered free language courses to people who didn't do them in school. I wasn't allowed on the course because I "had" languages (even though I couldn't string a sentance together - was taught for the tests by tutors)

I think being shoved through languages with loads of extra tutoring at school just to "have languages" has given me a mental block about learning any as an adult

and I don't "have" them even though I passed! I can't speak them!

Thanks all, epecially Grimma for the links We've had a look at the various entrance requirements for robotic engineering degrees, and engineering in general, and those that mention GCSE at all only include maths and English, Even the Russell group Universities don't want a language for Engineering ( as far as I can tell from the Internet anyway) The most highly regarded qualification seems to be the further maths A level, which the general consensus seems to be is completely nails, so it looks like any extra time and effort should go towards pushing his maths skills.

We also discussed how important the creative side was to him, he's full of ideas he wants to invent and design. He wanted to be an architect for a while so I think the design courses are a better match for him than French.
Summersbee this was something we discussed. He doesn't want to be able to speak French. If it was Japanese for example he'd be well up for it as he loves Japanese culture.

I'm going to ask his ICT teacher about the Pi. He can't have it for the moment as he's just got his Mindstorms, but maybe they could buy one for school for the ICT club.

Summersbee Sat 12-Jan-13 08:57:21

Your DS sounds bright and able. Perhaps he can't see the point of learning French? He might change his mind in years to come, so to help him/you make best decision now, could you make it over to France for a day or two? Brittany Ferries do great offers - e.g. visit the Landing Day beaches for a couple of days. This might also be worth looking at: http://www.agreenmouse.com/category/blog/

sashh Sat 12-Jan-13 05:07:44

Another vote for the Raspberry Pi.

Clary Sat 12-Jan-13 01:28:29

I would ask his French teacher what grade she realistically thinks he would get.

If she says C/B and he is on for B/A in other subjects (for example) then I would say it is worth it, MFL is a good option to show skills that can be useful to employers (among many other advantages).

But if she (or he of course!!) says D/E and he is on track for good passes in other subjects, and has another subject he wants to do, then don't do French. And I speak as a teacher of MFL. There's no point doing it if he is going to hate it and get a poorer grade than he could get in something else he likes. Don't worry about the EBacc, IMHO it's a red herring.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 10-Jan-13 19:43:47

>Now is it me or is that a bit of a uninspiring choice for a so called specialist technology college

Doesn't sound great to me. Lots of 'tech' subjects but not 'high tech' subjects, which is a shame for kids like your DS.

DDs (science specialism, they all do triple) offers options in:
History
Geography
RE
French
German
Latin(twilight)
Spanish
Art
Drama
Dance(twilight BTEC)
Music
PE (I think)
ICT
Computer science
Food tech
Design &Technology
Electronics

...shorter list but guess your DS would like it better.

I just googled cambridge entry requirements for engineering (oxford doesn't do much engineering) - this is probably as good an idea as you can get of the subjects likely to be valued for engineers. Can't see any mention of GCSE subjects at all (anyone know). One thing to note is the praise for some D&T A levels - might be worth finding out if the GCSE is this sort of useful D&T in which case it might be a better choice than the Resistant materials.

There's a recent thread here which discusses some of the differences between ICT and Comp Sci.

HTH!

BackforGood Thu 10-Jan-13 19:05:46

I too think that's a lot of choice.
dd has just come home with her information and ther are nowhere near that many.
ds's school used to specialise in Science and Technology, all it meant was they got money for a teacher to go out to local primaries with something exciting that went bang, and it meant that all pupils - whether they wanted to or not - hHAD to take a technology and waste one of their option blocks if that wasn't a strength or interest.
Also agree with others - The E Bacc is to measure schools an give the Gvmnt a tool to whip teachers with, it's not expected to affect the dcs particularly.
Also agree that a 6B at this stage is a good mark / level. My dd has excellent reports for her languages, is in the top set, and her report states 6L (they do 'higher / middle / lower) for French which she's been doing since Yr7, and 5H for German which she took up in Yr 8. She's mid-Yr9 now, and hoping to take both to GCSE.

Thank you for everyone's input. I wouldn't force him to do any subject, TBH I haven't got the stamina, but if was the case that he needed to do it then he would accept it if he had to (and spend two years moaning about it). However if I showed him the responses to this thread I think he would take it as supporting evidence that it wasn't necessary, and although I appreciate the view of the posters that argue for a broad spread and keeping his options open I don't think it would carry much weight with him.

We haven't really thought very far ahead up to now but we'll start thinking about A level choices as well. he really excels at English so it would be great if he didn't have to drop it at A-level.

Another question for the techie types. I've been told that ICT isn't a substitute for computer science but is a soft choice that's not worth doing. Is this a general consensus?
Thanks again everyone. It's very kind of you all to take the time to answer, I really appreciate it.

Goes of to find out what exactly a Russell Group University is blush

whiteflame Thu 10-Jan-13 18:04:55

hi dreamofwhitehorses, i'm a scientist and just wanted to stress that if your son wants to go into this area, the ability to write properly in English is absolutely essential. I would suggest your DS think about taking a humanity at A level.

just chipping in because a lot of people are under the impression that science is all maths and programming.

Summersbee Thu 10-Jan-13 17:55:17

Just guessing, but maybe part of your son's upset is that he hates having to try and speak French in class? A bit of oral practice on the computer at home might make all the difference. Put 'French listening for kids' into google and you will find things he could listen to for 'fun' at home which might help with that problem?

ISingSoprano Thu 10-Jan-13 17:53:40

He may not need to go to a RG university or need a language for his current favoured career choice but what if he changes his mind - teenagers do y'know! wink My advice is to keep as many options open as possible at this stage which at GCSE means keeping a broad selection - maths, english (x2), sciences, a language and at least one humanity. By sticking to traditional subjects you keep many more doors open. But that is just my opinion. grin

fuckadoodlepoopoo Thu 10-Jan-13 17:02:58

Considering what he wants to do a language in my opinion would be a waste of an option. He could do it at night classes if he wanted to, but it doesn't sound like he is interested.

He DOES NOT need a language to study in that area and he doesn't need to go to a Russell group university (does anyone on here talk about anything else!) to follow that sort of career.

He should chose the options that most appeal to him (ie. Not you)

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