Choosing GCSEs 2014 - missing a MFL?

(79 Posts)
allweneedislove Fri 24-Jan-14 09:36:19

Started this new thread as all the others I found related to previous years.
DS 13 chooses his options this week. He's a bright lad at a just slightly above average state school. He's setting his sights high as his step dad went to Oxford and he'd secretly like to get there.
His dilemma (if indeed it is one) is he has to choose between Spanish, which is his worst subject but his only MFL, and Engineering which is just up his street. His other subjects are triple science, English, Maths, RS and History (and perhaps something else). He'd like to be a nuclear scientist.
Will the lack of an MFL at GCSE hold him back? Many thanks for any advice.

Bonsoir Fri 24-Jan-14 10:20:29

I recommend he continue with Spanish and that you send him on a summer course in Spain this summer to boost him.

creamteas Fri 24-Jan-14 10:29:17

No the lack of MFL will not be a problem.

There are virtually no universities/employers that ask for an MFL unless it is a course/job specifically related to the language.

It is also always possible to take up a new language as an adult at uni or through adult ed.

wordfactory Fri 24-Jan-14 11:06:48

If he has his sights set on Oxbridge, then I would say a GCSE in an MFL is better than engineering.

Although his grades need to be excellent, so if he thinks he might tank Spanish, then that might not be a great option.

What I would say is that Spanish is a nice easy GCSE (shush...)

Reincarnatedpig Fri 24-Jan-14 11:19:22

My dd had to do Spanish age 14. She is dyslexic with no aptitude for languages at all. Spanish may be nice and easy for some not all unfortunately. I hired a tutor for 18 months. The teacher in school who was retiring gave her help beyond the rules in the orals and she scraped a B. Some kids (not dd) openly cheated in the written exams.

Frankly it was not worth it. If your son is of scientific talents an engineering A* is far more valuable than scraping a C in Spanish.

I think UCL threatened to make a language compulsory but said an elective taken while there would do.

allweneedislove Fri 24-Jan-14 12:33:51

Thanks for all comments. I "think" I'll let him choose and he'll choose engineering. I did check out the Russell group and reincarnatedpig you're right UCL will let them do a MFL module if they don't have it already.

When I was at school I had the option of going to evening classes to take Music O level as I couldn't fit it in at school but that doesn't seem to exist now?

My mum who had scarlet fever when she should have taken her 11 plus left a secondary modern at 14 and eventually took her O levels at the same time as me. She studied hard at night school.

Going off at a bit of a tangent - none of the few evening classes around here appeal. Sugar craft, paint your nails, basic computing - what happened to the serious stuff?

lljkk Sat 25-Jan-14 09:26:25

Lots of kids say that they fancy going to Oxford; he needs to think hard whether he's serious about that. Serious enough about it to limit his options now and do things he doesn't even like & may not get good marks at unless he's very good at slogging at a subject he's unenthusiastic about. Plenty of other brilliant paths to follow besides Oxbridge.

threepiecesuite Sat 25-Jan-14 09:33:58

I don't think Spanish is an easy GCSE. The coursework requires a lot of remembering and rote learning. They constantly have to rote learn vocab throughout Years 10 and 11. Plus all of the verbs and tenses.

Bunbaker Sat 25-Jan-14 09:44:02

We have had a similar dilemma. DD wants to drop French in favour of art which she is very good at and more likely to get a better grade. Given that all her other subjects are very academic I have allowed her to do this.

The school were at pains to inform the parents that if the government bring in the EBACC then some of the students will have to switch courses half way through them.

If this does happen I wonder if all the DT/Art/ICT and other less academic subject teachers will still have a job?

senua Sat 25-Jan-14 11:33:17

Going off at a bit of a tangent - none of the few evening classes around here appeal. Sugar craft, paint your nails, basic computing - what happened to the serious stuff?

Totally agree! Round here it's either fluffy stuff or properly-vocational stuff that costs hundreds (if not thousands!) of pounds.

Back to OP's point: I'd try to get the MFL so you get the EBacc. Shows a rounded education, shows that he can tackle any/everything. There are plenty of summer schools etc for engineers - perhaps you can bribe him with a trade off?

senua Sat 25-Jan-14 12:20:15

Another thought: who does Eng GCSE at your school, what will his classmates be like? Will they be keen like him, or does it tend to be a choice for the not-so-engaged?

There is no proof that the EBacc is worth the paper its written on.

As long as the rest of his choices were balanced I wouldn't be concerned.

yourlittlesecret Sat 25-Jan-14 12:56:22

None of the universities will be interested in whether he has a MLF unless he wants to study a language.
His school,on the other hand, have a vested interest in encouraging him as he won't meet the criteria for the EBAC without a language. The EBAC is also not crucial to your DC and is mainly of value to the school for league tables.

ibbydibby Sat 25-Jan-14 13:43:30

When DS1 was choosing GCSEs, it was impressed on us that at least one of the local 6th form colleges was insisting on a language GCSE. (DS1's school only went up to Y11, so post 16 all students had to go elsewhere.) So while people are saying Universities won't require this, have you checked whether there is any requirement for language GCSE to be able to study A levels?

schilke Sat 25-Jan-14 13:58:46

I'm so naive I thought most schools operated in the same way as my boys comp. They have to do the usual English, maths science etc.. and then have at least one of history/geography/rs; at least one mfl and one from the arts section - music, drama, dt etc..

If your ds has a completely free choice then I'd let him choose the one he wants to do the most, not the one he thinks he should do.

Reincarnatedpig Sat 25-Jan-14 14:36:25

At my daughter's comp they strongly encourage the EBacc subjects but I now know they don't enforce it. I made her choose Spanish as her year 9 GCSE and regret it. She got a B despite learning nothing and had to get up at 6am to learn her vocab each morning. I think languages for some people are impossible.

At my elder daughter's grammar they have to do a mix. They were even forced to do an IT subject. She chose IMedia. The results were released over a year after the GCSEs as the school and the exam board had a massive fight - the poor teacher had got the spec wrong and they basically all failed (given a lesser award in the end). Biggest waste of time ever. She would have preferred to do a second MFL - definitely more useful.

MrsBright Sat 25-Jan-14 15:58:15

The stress on an MFL is coming from SCHOOLS not Unis. The reason is that despite EBacc not being a prerequisite for ANY Universities or subjects, schools are making out that it is.

The reason for this id that part of the ruddy League Tables counts their EBacc % as an indication of 'overall achievement'. Some schools are now making up this fairystory about 'Unis want EBacc' in order to boost their EBacc numbers.

I work in Uni Admissions at a leading RG Uni. EBacc isnt a prerequisite for an offer in any subject, nor are there any plans to make it so.

What we DO look at is 'GCSE profile' - ie. consistent high grades across subjects. So, if the OP's son is likely to get a higher grade in Engineering than an MFL that he clearly has no interest in, Engineering is the subject to go for, especially if aims to study a STEM subject at Uni.

Verycold Sat 25-Jan-14 16:36:35

But what about facilitating subjects MrsBright? Does it not matter at all which subjects the GCSEs are in?

yourlittlesecret Sat 25-Jan-14 17:41:05

Does it not matter at all which subjects the GCSEs are in
It matters what subjects the A levels are in, and to do a "facilitating subject" at A level you'd normally have to have done the GCSE.
DS1 in Y13 and all the universities he applied to were interested in was his AS grades.

MrsBright Sat 25-Jan-14 17:55:22

Facilitating subjects are at A LEVEL. This is an agenda put about by RG Unis only. The vast majority of students don't even go to RG Unis.

If you read this - http://www.russellgroup.ac.uk/informed-choices/ - you will see that even RG aren't fussing about GCSEs.

wordfactory Sat 25-Jan-14 18:42:49

I'm sorry but it's disingenuous to say universities don't care at all what GCSEs are in.

The most selective universities would much rather see a good hand of academic subjects. And where an MFL has been excluded to include Media Studies, or Law, or Food Tech, then the student will be placing themselves at a disadvantage to those applicants who chose the more conventional route.

It's true that less selective universities don't care. But the OP's son is aiming for Oxbridge!

Oxford in particular is all about the GCSEs. As is Bristol and others.

MillyMollyMama Sat 25-Jan-14 23:34:14

Actually Oxford does not have a nuclear science course or a nuclear engineering course. He may need to look elsewhere or check what is actually on offer.

ukatlast Sun 26-Jan-14 01:28:10

When I last looked a modern foreign language at GCSE is compulsory for matriculation at Oxford.

ukatlast Sun 26-Jan-14 01:44:49

Seems it has changed since I last looked - website amended 25 October 2012: https://uni-of-oxford.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/544/session/L3RpbWUvMTM5MDcwMDUzNi9zaWQvZHUxX0VpTGw%3D

Do I need to have studied a language to GCSE level in order to apply?
Updated 25/10/2012 02.42 PM
We do not have matriculation requirements at Oxford. A GCSE pass in a language other than English is not, therefore, essential and if you feel your application is likely to be competitive in all other respects this should not be a bar to your application.

lljkk Sun 26-Jan-14 08:50:36

I studied Spanish daily for 4 years of high school and it was not the dreary experience some of you describe, lol!! I minored in it too, at Uni.

I think OP needs to have a heart-to-hear talk with the boy, but definitely don't do Spanish unless he can suck it up and is a very high flyer anyway.

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