Studying for a Spanish GCSE in own time out of school

(17 Posts)
QueenoftheSarf Thu 13-Mar-14 21:15:06

My DS in Yr 9 seems to be a very able linguist but has no firm idea about careers yet. He's just chosen his options and wanted to do both Spanish and French but there were so many other things he wanted to do too, something had to give. So, having talked things over with the Head of MFL, who knows DS and his capabilities, he suggested that DS could maybe study for the Spanish GCSE in his own time. He said it's been done before and that he feels, on the basis of what he's shown so far, that DS would be capable of getting a decent grade. We agreed that he could give it a go as long as he was happy to and he is up for it.

The way we're approaching it is that he can start it off and if it gets too much, and he's finding it hard going with his other work/commitments and free time balance etc he can drop it and nothing will have been lost.

His teacher has said that DS can have a copy of the textbooks that the class will use and he'll also provide any other resources (i.e. burn him a CD of any recorded material they use in class). He'll also provide him with copies of all the classwork and homework that he will set and he'll mark it too. The only thing he can't have (obviously) is any class contact learning time. Oh, and he'll enter him for the exams and he can do any speaking/listening assessments etc for the exam with the others in the normal way class.

Has anyone got any experience of their child doing this and how did you get on? I am thinking that I could maybe contact a tutor locally who he might be able to spend a hour or two a week with but this will obviously depend on cost. I was also thinking if I could find an A level student or something who might like to help him for payment. Other than that, I think he'll have to manage with whatever he can find online.

Any feedback from any parents or language teachers to help me in supporting my DS with this would be very much appreciated.

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 14-Mar-14 08:25:38

I think you'd want to arrange a chance for him to speak Spanish, and listen to it - as you say, an A level or uni student every week or two should be ok. Apart from that, if he is motivated enough, I don't think learning the written language should be too difficult. There are plenty of resources available - e.g. lots of Spanish on the BBC Learning site - so you should be able to round out his experience easily enough.

I would have thought the hard thing would be making sure he just spent the time on it - I guess planning when he'll do it in advance would be the key, rather than trying to fit it in ad hoc. My dd2 is doing Spanish as a twilight class at school because there were only half a dozen of them wanting to do two languages, and they seem to be doing very well on just two hours a week, whereas normal class time is 3 hours a week for GCSE subjects (just to give you some comparison!).

creamteas Fri 14-Mar-14 08:28:56

Does he really have the time? How many other subjects is he taking? If he is at a school that does 8 GCSE, then I would perhaps give it a go. But if he is at a school that does 10 or more, I think it will be too much.

What does he do outside of school (sport, music etc)? Will these have to be cut back.

The only DC I know that have successfully studied for a GCSE language exam in their own time on top of their other exam courses are ones that are bi-lingual.

Soveryupset Fri 14-Mar-14 08:36:51

This has also been my experience and the advice we were given when looking around schools. My DCs are bilingual in a not-so-popular language and when we asked school round they told us that some bi-lingual children opt to do this in their own time but will need a lot of support even though they are fluent.

Personally I would not risk it. I would let him learn Spanish as a hobby instead, then he can pick it up later on. I picked up a language at university from scratch and became fairly fluent in it. Not a huge problem if you are fairly good at languages.

Theas18 Fri 14-Mar-14 08:38:51

Tricky one. I think your " see how you go" is exactly the right strategy.

My DD is year 10 and has had links to spanish TV and radio on line recently and the teacher is getting books and magazines too.

Yes speaking it is important. If he has linguistic aptitude and flair he'll probably be fine ( my DD is hampered by shyness and reluctance to get it wrong).

Just a minor caution about his overall grade profile if languages are the route he wants to take, discuss with the teachers about whether say a C in a 2nd language is great as it shows he's trying, or whether it'll be interpreted as "not done as well as he should" IYSWIM

BadgerB Fri 14-Mar-14 09:09:18

A young relative did a 3rd MFL, in her case French, with a tutor who skyped once a week. She got a B with, as far as I could tell, very little work otherwise...

IronyFreeAnnie Fri 14-Mar-14 20:20:53

I did this due to a house move and the new school not offering Spanish, which I had already started. I was given the text book, tapes (cos I am old!) of recorded materials and basically left to get on with it.
I managed ok with it- the only part I really struggled with was the conversations we had to practice - not sure if they still do this or nor for GCSE,but it was hard work having to come up with a two way conversation by myself.
It sounds like your DS will have a lot more support and teacher back up that I had. As long as he has the motivation to learn, then actually I think it couldbe really beneficial for him in the long run- independent learning is a skill that will stand him in good stead for the future, and any college/ sixth form should be impressed by his drive.

cansu Fri 14-Mar-14 21:18:29

This won't work unless your ds has some special pre knowledge of Spanish. I am a langs teacher studying Spanish in my own time and having one hour's private tuition each week. It is v hard to get the speaking practise and find enough time to study and langs is my job. There is no way even a well motivated and bright y10 could do it on their own alongside their other homework and the inevitable distractions of growing up. It is one of the most ludicrous suggestions I have heard in a long time. He will need TEACHING just like he does for his other subjects.

Saracen Fri 14-Mar-14 22:29:04

I'm somewhat puzzled by what you say, cansu. I reached a good GCSE standard in two MFLs in my own time with self-study and no teaching and not spending a great deal of time on it. (I didn't actually sit the GCSE, just moved straight onto A-level courses, which were a comfortable fit for me at that stage. I am assuming that the fact I found the A-levels straightforward means I had reached GCSE standard on my own, anyhow...)

I think it may depend on how the individual learns. It doesn't seem inevitable to me that the OP's son should need a live teacher. He'll have opportunities to speak and listen, and access to written study materials. How is this different to distance learning courses such as the Open University, or do you not feel they can provide a decent education in a language?

Dreamgirls234 Sat 15-Mar-14 11:15:45

Hi my daughter does Spanish outside of school and loves every minute of it.she says it's rewarding and challenges her as she's G&T.

MillyMollyMama Sun 16-Mar-14 00:27:16

If he is an able linguist, he should do two languages in school so he works with other young people. Able linguists should walk A* grades (or a good A). It will be hard work doing this after school with all the competing homework and other activities. Having two languages to take forward to A level is much better than one and gives more options for the future. He obviously does not see himself as a linguist or he would have chosen two languages in the first place. Not sure if all the posters doing languages in the evening are children doing 9 other GCSEs or adults. There is a world of difference and very few children do distance learning.

GirlsTimesThree Sun 16-Mar-14 08:59:52

My daughter was desperate to take Spanish for A level even though she hadn't studied it before. Her new school sent her the GCSE text and work books and we bought her the Rosetta Stone course and she worked through the holidays post GCSEs. The head of languages said if she reached a good enough level they'd let her take it for A level.
She was assessed in the September and went on to take the A level, so it is doable.
Whether your DS would have time alongside all the other GCSEs depends a bit on how many he's already taking, I suppose, and his commitment to study.

treas Tue 18-Mar-14 00:16:02

My dsis ended up studying modern languages at University majoring in Spanish. 'A' level Spanish was her first entry level in the language and she got A*.

RiversideMum Tue 18-Mar-14 05:58:58

A friend of DD did Spanish at night school and got A*. They did the IGCSE course so there was no coursework - just a written paper.

wakeupeverybody Tue 18-Mar-14 06:15:30

Many moons ago I did this. I wanted to do three sciences and French and German but school couldn't timetable it. In year 10, they arranged for me to have a 1 to 1 lesson for an hour a week with the French teacher when I should have been doing PE, and in year 11 I think I had a short lesson one lunch. I did 11 GCSEs including coursework heavy art and plenty of stuff outside of school. I got an A*. The worst thing was the grief I got from the PE teachers who were totally unsupportive and gave me lots of hassle even though this had all been arranged by the staff.
I would say that it worked well and kept options open, but that it was definitely made more easy by the fact it was my stronger MFL, I would not have managed German so easily. I was also probably what they describe as G&T so found GCSEs in general fairly straightforward and didn't mind studying lots.
So yes, possible, but I would be considering whether he can do his strongest MFL as the extra, and trying to get some tuition either via school or a tutor, for maybe an hour a week.

DrankSangriaInThePark Tue 18-Mar-14 06:34:54

If he wants to do it, let him. What does he think? Which subject did he want to drop from his list?

It's a perfectly do-able option, via an evening class, most middle sized towns and upwards have loads of language schools who offer fairly inexpensive courses. I wouldn't push him into doing it in isolation though, and tbh, if he is that passionate about it (and I hope he is, Spanish is my passion, and we need more male linguists around!) then he should, if possible, drop something else.

There are also a zillion online courses, and in these technological days, apps to perfect your languages coming out of your ears, so any form of self study is possible, my concern would be if it would be pleasant.

A Spanish GCSE is never going to change his life, but if he ends up feeling pressurised because it's studying for yet another exam, or he gets turned off a language because lone studying (especially of a language) is not that exciting, then that would be a dreadful shame. (I had to do German A level alone, virtually, as I was the only one in my year to take it, so half my lessons I did in the HoY's office, me and a grammar book, and the other half (the literature bit) I went to another secondary school for, which is fairly daunting at 16.

Everhopeful Tue 18-Mar-14 09:34:02

Two free things to look at to help with speaking: eTandem (a sort of match-making service to pair up someone who wants to practice English with your DS) and Meetup groups, though you might want to go with him the first time - these are aimed at adults, but the language groups have a wide variety of people. As others have said, if he's pretty good academically and wants to do it, then I can't see why he shouldn't make a good job of it.

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