My DD is struggling with German in Y7, will she fail GCSE?

(25 Posts)
FiveHoursSleep Sat 09-May-15 20:46:01

DD has high functioning autism and is in a mainstream school where they have to take a MFL for GCSE. She is studying German this year and does not 'get it' at all. I did a GSCE equivalent in German so I could help her at this stage if she'd let me, but she won't.
She does quite well academically ( levels 6 and 7s in core subjects) but is not engaged with German at all. She thinks the teacher doesn't like her, and I can see that the teacher thinks she isn't trying because she isn't.
Unfortunately DD says she has 'an angry face', and 'forgets' to do her homework, gets detentions, does it badly etc etc
Has anyone else had a child do really badly in German in Y7, but go on to do 'okay' in GCSE?
I'm wondering if she should get some tutoring over the summer holidays to try and get her up to the same level the rest of the class is at?

anyquestions Sat 09-May-15 23:15:50

I studied German beyond A level and I would say that in my experience each new thing you learn tends to be building on the thing you learned before (probably true for any foreign language). So if your daughter is falling behind the rest of her class I think it would be very worthwhile getting her some coaching as soon as possible. May be a silly question, but does the German teacher definitely know that your daughter has autism? Communication within schools is not always all it could be. If you do go for coaching, I think it would be a good idea to have a conversation with the German teacher and let her know how engaged you are with helping your daughter to do well at German.

Millymollymama Sat 09-May-15 23:25:37

My DDs went to a school where everyone had to take a MFL for GCSE but..... Not all of them did. People who really did not get it, dropped the MFL expectation because schools don't like a lot of failure. However, that is really saying that if you don't try, then it is ok. How do you know if she will agree to coaching? How do you know if she will enjoy it and learn what she needs to? MFL does need learning and application to do well. Are you going to coach her for the next 4 years? You could try having a meeting with the German teacher to see if a truce can be agreed. Or maybe accept German GCSE is unlikely.

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 09:28:09

I do feel the teacher's attitude to my daughter isn't helping. There was some language ability test that they had the girls do, and my DD scored very highly so she thinks that DD is just not trying.
All the teachers know my DD is autistic but some are more sympathetic than others, The German teacher is one of the less sympathetic ones. We are working on this but it seems that DD may have different teacher next year.
My plan was to get some tutoring for her over the summer holidays and see if that helps, with 'top up' sessions as needed. I'm also going to talk to the school about this further.

Millymollymama Sun 10-May-15 09:44:10

It is a good idea to go back to the school. I suspect if the teacher found your DD did well in the aptitude test, she does expect her to try. She would not be the first child to not like a teacher and you only have a few weeks to go with this one, by the sound if it. I think a short term tutor is a good idea, but not long term because this will be a total grind. Good luck

anyquestions Sun 10-May-15 11:33:36

When I learned German in the 1980s the focus was very much on learning the grammar rules. My son is in Year 9 and learning German and he tells me that the way they learn is much more topic-based, picking up bits of grammar along the way. I claim no expertise in autism, but my understanding is that people with autism often like things to follow set rules or patterns. OP, if you do get coaching for your DD, consider whether topic work is her thing or whether she might prefer tables of verb conjugations and case endings and an explanation of when to use them. The great advantage of one to one tuition is that the tutor can tailor the coaching to the way your daughter prefers to learn.

fourcorneredcircle Sun 10-May-15 11:57:45

How does your daughter like to learn? Perhaps I and the other MFL teachers on these boards can point you towards some resources? Some will help her grammar, some will help her vocabulary.

In most Y7 language classes the basics of grammar are covered for example: the different forms of to have and to be (I have/I am he has/he is etc.)
common sentence structure (there is/there isn't it is/it isn't)
a range of conjunctions (and, but, because)
a range of opinions (I like, I love, I don't like, I hate).

Each of these will appear again and again in each topic as topic specific vocabulary (nouns and adjectives) are added.

Different resources are best for different areas of language learning, and then there are others again that work for the four skills (listening, reading, writing, speaking).

A tutor could be an unecessary expense at this early stage of language learning.

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 13:30:29

I've tried internet based resources but I'm not sure what's best for her.
Her spoken German very poor- in fact she refuses to try and melts down each time she gets something wrong.
Vocab isn't too bad, grammar less good. Apparently nxt year they will be streamed and she will get more help in the bottom set, so that might help.
Her books are so badly kept and have so many blank pages I have no idea what she 'should' know, so if there is anything out there where we can find out what she needs to learn, that would be incredibly helpful.

FadedRed Sun 10-May-15 13:38:31

Do you go abroad for holidays? Perhaps a trip to Germany, Austria or the German speaking part of Switzerland might give Dd a real life experience of using the language, seeing it on signposts etc and hearing it spoken, which might give her an insight into the benefit of using a FL. (And you can all have a laugh at the Fahrt jokes).

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 13:45:46

We did that last Summer, and have been considering it this year but DD1, who is going into Y9 in September) is doing French and Spanish so really wants to go to those countries.
DD2 has to chose a second language for Y8 too, out of French, Spanish and Latin. She wants to do Latin as there is no verbal expectation!

FanSpamTastic Sun 10-May-15 13:58:02

Have you tried an app like duolingo? You move through the lessons using a range of language skills including reading, typing and also speaking the words. Something like this might build her confidence that she actually knows more than she realises and fill in any gaps that she has missed.

FadedRed Sun 10-May-15 14:12:11

Switzerland, half your holiday in French speaking the other half in German speaking - both Dc's get a chance of speaking their chosen language and all signs are in both wherever you are in the country. BTW I'm very biased, it's such a lovely place

fourcorneredcircle Sun 10-May-15 14:36:55

From experience the blank pages are probably where sheets should be stuck in ;) Does she have her own glue? That might help on that level at least. If she'd unhappy in class she probably doesn't want to keep interacting with the teacher/peers to ask for equipment.

Lots of children hate the speaking. They feel very self conscious and pressured. I know that your daughters ASD will magnify this.

Some things that have worked for my students in the past (and some of these do rely on parents, because it helps 'normalise' speaking in a FL outside of the the classroom which has proved stressful before)

1) Mealtimes. Plan a German meal night (do one for spanish and frnehc for your other DD too). Try and work through a recipe together in German (obviously have an English copy too!). That way you are saying the words and then try and say simple things in German like thanks, please, yes, no when you sit and eat it together. Build up over time to longer sentences it is good, i like the chicken, more please etc.

2) Ask the teacher about allowing the child to record themselves speaking for assessments and submit it that way. They can do it alone, or with a trusted friend/teacher/parents in a place they feel safe and at a time that they feel comfortable.

3) find something in German that you can watch/listen to together. Films/TV shows on Netflix. German dubbed TV shows on Youtube. German adverts on youtube. Mimic the voices and scenes. Try to keep it light hearted.

4) If your daughter likes games, could you play in German? like at meal times but my turn, your turn, yes/no, etc.

5) If you go to places where there are guide books/audio tours in German get a copy of both languages. Then look at it together.

I hope something here is helpful.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 10-May-15 14:45:10

I'm no expert but I think it's early days. You say the vocab is good so that's a great start. Once the grammar rules click she'll be up and running.

Speaking g is difficult until you get more confident which again will come with time. A friend of mine her dd refused to speak in a mock oral exam in Yr 10. Just sat there silently. It was rescheduled and she did it again, think they gave up after 4 attempts!

Your dd may get a different teacher next year and that might help. But any online child friendly stuff in the meantime will help.

I was shit at french in yr 7 and not much better in yr8. It clicked in yr 9 and I got an A.

But even if it never clicks for your dd it won't be the end of the world if she does fail it. She obviously doesn't have to do it at a level. She will likely get decent grades in other subjects at gcse and a level.

Future unis or employers will look at her grades and just think "oh there's someone who's not a linguist". If her other subjects are ok they're not going to worry.....unless she's applying for a translator job!

ChillySundays Sun 10-May-15 18:57:40

Since MFL is compulsory you are going to have to deal with it.

German is probably better if she is not happy speaking it as it is easier to try and put on an accent in german than it is in french.

If the teacher will change in September I would see how it goes. If you can find out if this is going to happen perhaps you could send an e-mail to the teacher reminding him/her of the autism and how it affects your DD

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 19:41:19

I've tried getting her into Duolingo by doing it along with her. She wasn't keen and all that happened is she refused and I kept going. I'm almost finished now!
We've been to Switzerland quite a lot in the past unfortuately- we want to go to other places. Maybe we could go for a long weekend...

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 19:46:15

Also it sounds like she will be in the lower set next year, so will get more help I suppose.
Thanks for your help and reassurance. I really don't want her to fail at it as she will focus on that rather than the subject she's good at. Even if we have to pay for a tutor to get her a C, then that's what we will do!

Hottypotty Sun 10-May-15 19:48:59

I pretty much sorted myself out for GCSE German with a revision guide. Could you look for something similar for her to work through herself?

NotCitrus Sun 10-May-15 20:22:03

In my school you only started German in Y9, so beginning in Y7 is plenty of time for GCSE. Memrise and the BBC Bitesize sites are good.

If she wants to learn Latin, explain that what she's learnt in German about cases (nominative, accusative, dative etc) and verb forms will be very helpful. Explaining that dative represents 'to' or 'for' in English or an indirect object, whereas acc is a direct object, usually representing movement, might help - some teachers just say it's random and has to be learnt, which she might struggle with. Also does she cope with her ASD by learning phrases she can use in various situations? If so, learning similar phrases for German might interest her.

Could you talk to the school and see if you can confirm she will get the other teacher next year? Hopefully this teacher will be happy to agree.

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 21:07:40

They won't confirm teachers yet, they are waiting on exam results but I know she will have done badly so will talk to her ( very helpful) HOY once we know the score.
I have already got her a KS3 revision guide but she won't touch it. sad

cricketballs Sun 10-May-15 21:55:50

she is year 7 - why are you so worried about GCSE?

FiveHoursSleep Sun 10-May-15 23:41:41

Well, that's what I'm asking really; does the fact that DD is not doing well in German at this point mean that she's doomed in the subject?
I don't come from the UK, and it's all a learning curve for me!

VivaLeBeaver Mon 11-May-15 06:32:21

You can ask for a predicted gcse grade.

Kids are expected to make so many levels of progress a year and the level will equate to a certain grade.

Dd has been getting predicted gcse grades in all subjects since year 7.

CamelHump Mon 11-May-15 06:45:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FiveHoursSleep Mon 11-May-15 09:03:38

We don't get to see her planner at the moment but we may have to change this. One of the problems is the German teacher is one of the few that doesn't check that DD's homework is written down, and DD is dyspraxic so planning, remembering is not her strong suit!
We didn't see our oldest DD's planner either, and that worked fine for her but obviously DD2 has different needs.
Unfortunately, changing this routine is sure to create problems so we need to pick our battles.

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