What happens to state kids entering independent secondaries without any foreign languages?

(35 Posts)

Son is going into the independent sector for secondary after a state primary.
I reckon a very large percentage of his new classmates will already have had Latin, French, Mandarin. Do schools help or offer a fast track for children who has not had the benefit of this, or will they just end up in the bottom set?
How are lessons structured?

Chandon Wed 27-Mar-13 09:41:57

firstly, my DC are getting French and Spanish in their private primary, well, they hardly learn a thing, so don't worry!

Really, I don't get the point TBH (I am a language teacher and I think doing an hour a week of any language is, frankly a waste of time, you learn virtually nothing that way, you need to do 2-3 hours at least to be able to make any significant progress).

Also, most private secondaries start from scratch with all languages, as....the kids have learned virtually nothing anyway, and others come from State.

In your shoes, I would simply ring up the school and ask, rather than fretting over it and making your poor DC do boring stuff instead of enjoying his holiday.

My stepdaughters came from another country where they had not done any European languages, arriving here into the middle of Year 7 and going to a private school. The school let them leave out French as the other children had already been doing that for years and they would have found it very difficult to catch up. They did however start German, and both of them went on to get A for German at GCSE.

Belltree Wed 27-Mar-13 09:34:13

I was worried about this too, but there was really no need. I think most secondary schools realise that everyone will be at a slightly different level at this stage, and they start Y7 with that assumption.

PollyEthelEileen Wed 27-Mar-13 08:55:30

Vast resources?

NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 17:14:33

they die

obviously

or the private school use some of their VAST resources to pay someone to help them

ZZZenAgain Tue 26-Mar-13 17:12:18

sounds positive! Which books are you using with him?

QuintEggSensuality Tue 26-Mar-13 11:16:54

Well, what do you know!
I received my French books from Amazon, and started him out on the vary basic 5-7 age with exercises to do. He seems to have a very good vocabulary already, and can easily spell the French words. We need to work on his pronunciation though.
It is a good thing that he is actually quite keen!

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 14:07:38

Usually it's two languages at a time. At our school they did two languages for the first two terms in year 7. Then for the remaining Year 7 term plus the first term of Year 8 they did two more. Thereafter you elect two languages.to carry on to GCSE.

The prep schools tend to have done French and Latin but for German and Spanish everyone started from scratch.

ZZZenAgain Mon 25-Mar-13 13:54:10

He will have to learn 3 languages from scratch all at the same time? That will be a lot of work.

Could you ask the school which textbook they use for French and get cracking on it with him? I am fairly sure the BBC primary site has some videos and things for French to make a start hearing the language, so listening to those every day or something similar would help him get an ear for the language and I would use a workbook daily if possible to get the rudiments.

I teach year 7 in an independent senior school. Some kids know loads of French, some know nothing. I start at the beginning so that everyone learns the basics but go at a fast pace so that it's not too dull for those that gave studied French before. They are all fine with it. This applies to both top and bottom set.

Blu Mon 25-Mar-13 13:33:06

Presumably not all private primaries do exactly the same languages, or if they do, cover the same material.

My friend teaches MFL in an independent primary - Spanish and German.

Schools must be used to Yr 7s with a wide variety of experience.

sugarfoot Mon 25-Mar-13 13:24:13

My daughter went from a state primary (with a bit of German club) to a (very) selective independent. In year 7 they divided them into those who had learned some French before and those who hadn't. Within a couple of terms they were all at near enough the same level. She is now doing French and Spanish at university.

Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 13:15:45

Quint, am I right in thinking your ds is bilingual though?

In which case, that will help him hugely smile

Primary schools are supposed to do a MFL but not necessarily French - ours does Italian. And after five years of it, dd1 is still pretty much at the 'ciao bella' stage hmm but they would need to do an awful lot more of it, time-wise, to make any difference. And there is no time on the timetable, unfortunately.

happily3 Sun 24-Mar-13 21:06:37

They must be used to it, but in addition to suggestions above why not Google French for kids or French listening practice to find things your ds could listen to online.
Have you heard of Edith Piaf? Not modern at all, but a song of hers called 'Je ne regrette rien' is full of loads of French 'r's to practise singing along to ..?!

PollyEthelEileen Sun 24-Mar-13 18:14:22

I don't think you have to worry. The independent school will be aware that many of their intake will have not had the same MFL opportunities.

Everyone will be caught up by half term.

derektheladyhamster Sun 24-Mar-13 17:20:52

My son had no experience of mfl, but I don't know how many kids from his school came from state primaries. I do know that his teacher assumed that he'd learned french before because he picked it up quickly. I wouldn't worry, the school will be used to it.

LetsEscape Sun 24-Mar-13 15:11:47

Probably best to ask your son's future school directly. It will all depend on the school. If it is 11+ entry and gets children from a range of schools they will have a clear plan and either teach them from scratch (and some may get bored) and then set them by ability in the language at an early stage. Some schools set from the start according to exposure. Don't assume all prep / independent primaries teach French to a decent standard. Many times it's just songs and some conversational French but not proper grammar and verbs etc. Other schools, especially in those going towards 13+ CE exams, the children by year 7 will be very advanced. I would think it is not a problem unless your son is joining a 13+ prep school or he is joining an all though school 3-18 or 7-18, where they will not plan for the 'odd' child with a difference MFL experience. In that case you would be advised to get a tutor to get him started - languages is something that is hard to do a crash course on, because of the amount of vocabulary they have to learn.

CecilyP Sun 24-Mar-13 14:09:27

Even if 50% have come from private primary, there will be some of them who will have had very good mfl teaching, while for others it might have been so sketchy that they need to start again anyway. Do contact the new school if you are worried. And while many entrants might have done a bit of French before, I doubt if there will be many who are not starting Latin and Mandarin from scratch.

teacherwith2kids Sun 24-Mar-13 11:27:17

Talk to the school, as it will be a 'known' issue (if they take in c. 50% from state) and they will have a strategy in place.

I skipped Year 7, and came from a primary which did no languages - was sent a textbook to do some French from in the summer holidays between Y6 and joining y8. Was in the top stream by then end of y8, took O-level in Y10 and A/O in Y11. Still don't know the present tense, though....

MTSgroupie Sun 24-Mar-13 10:23:46

My DD only did one hour of French in Year 6 but, as part of the 'offer' package the indie secondary sent a letter that gave us the book title that their prep kids used in Year 6 and suggested areas to 'revise' in the summer.

I don't recall DD struggling in Year 7. The 'funny' thing was that some of the prep kids were referred to the lunch time French Club for extra tuition.

If your school hasn't done so already, I suggest that you ask them for 'revision' advice. As for keeping up, there are lots of prep kids that don't have a flair for languages. If your DC does then it all evens out mid Year 7

We have been told Latin French and Mandarin will be compulsory for Y7, then he can add Spanish, German, Italian later.

He is bilingual Norwegian English, hopefully that will help with language acquisition.

LIZS Sun 24-Mar-13 08:57:49

dd got to do basic courses in 3 modern languages and Latin before opting for 2.

clb Sun 24-Mar-13 08:56:07

DD did French at her prep school but it was pretty worthless. She keeps up fine. I wouldn't worry.

And just a v minor information point - SPGS does teach French as a first modern language, but children who already speak French at home aren't allowed to take it. Iirc, the choice for first modern language is French, German, Russian or Mandarin.

Needmoresleep Sun 24-Mar-13 08:40:33

Schools vary and so perhaps worth asking them. Almost all, if not all, will have strategies in place to help ensure that talented linguists can catch up, and that less talented linguists get the support they need.

One school we looked had sets in Yr 7 based on "exposure". They said they had a major reshuffle at the end of Yr 7, and a number new to French then found themselves in the top set.

Another had mixed classes. Those that had done a lot of French gained some useful consolidation, confidence, and a pretty easy year. Teaching was at a brisk pace so those new to French had to work quite hard. By the end of the year the talented linguists had caught up and setting was pretty mixed.

SPGS in contrast only teaches French as a second language. So everyone starts with German or Mandarin or something else.

The equally big London thing is how many bilinguals there are. 10% French bilinguals might be a reasonable expectation. Throw in kids speaking a Romance language, eg Spanish or Italian, who have the advantage of both familiarity with vocabulary and experience of a foreign language, and you will see that prep school is only part of the picture. Also not all prep schools teach French well. Some don't at all and others, especially some of the 11+ focussed girls schools don't seem to allocate much time.

In terms of catch up, I think the only thing worth doing might be to take a short trip to France to try to give your child a sense of French as a language, including accent, and an idea that it is worth learning, even if it is just so you can buy your preferred flavour of ice cream. Vocabulary learning in year 7 will be quite tedious so they might as well know what the aim is.

I am just on Amazon now, Usborne looks good actually!

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