French sets based only on Swedish test - do other schools do this?

(15 Posts)
Guilders15 Tue 15-Nov-16 07:13:39

DD yr 7 has had 100% in all tests so far , was upset not to get into top set. Apparently they were given a test in Swedish to test their aptitude for languages and this is how the sets were decided. DD feeling doesn't make a difference how hard she works.Do your schools do this? .

fleurdelacourt Tue 15-Nov-16 08:54:45

so she didn't get 100% in Swedish?

Ours are not in sets for languages so cannot comment directly, but in theory, giving them an introduction to a language and seeing how they respond is quite a neat way to set children for a completely new subject?

Being an A* student at everything else doesn't mean she will automatically be a natural linguist - my best friend at school aced everything else but ended up with a C in French because she just couldn't get it.

If your daughter is bright and hard working and it does click into place, then presumably there's every chance she would get into the top set later in her school career? I really wouldn't sweat this one - sounds like she's motivated and that will get her a long way.

AmberEars Tue 15-Nov-16 08:56:42

Yes, I think it is a recognised way of setting - to avoid disadvantaging children who have an aptitude for languages but haven't been taught much French at primary school.

If your DD is doing so well won't she have the opportunity to move sets later on?

5notrumps Tue 15-Nov-16 12:04:30

That is a common way to set. Obviously though if a child has prior knowledge of a language it makes no sense for them to be in the bottom set with complete beginners.

fourcorneredcircle Tue 15-Nov-16 18:56:57

I've used similar. Setting for French is really hard for our school as we know that our two main feeder primaries employ a qualified French teacher for an hour for each class throughout KS2. Meaning that those students have advanced ability compared to people that did no French, or 30 mins a week with a willing volunteer in Y6 when SATS/residentials/Christmas concerts/school play didn't get in the way.

That "advanced" ability even appears in quite weak students who can't keep up by Christmas but they'd have been put in set one whereas a child who is pretty good and has image ability could have ended up way down the sets if we based sets on a French test at the beginning of year seven.

Whilst sets can be changed, in a subject like MFL which is often in a carousel with other subjects (unlike Maths, English and Science) it's nigh on impossible to change mid year. So, lots of children end up in the wrong classes for too long. The Swedish test is a pretty fair way to do it.

Wriggle45 Tue 15-Nov-16 23:27:47

Blimey... never heard of this... would be fascinated to see how my dd did. She has decided she is 'good' at languages as she knows she was bilingual up to age of 2.5.... this confidence seems to be carrying her through so far (and who knows maybe it does make a difference being bilingual as a toddler).... at year 9 is learning French, Latin and German (with Greek as lunchtime club).... and wanting to do Spanish as well for GCSE. Is Swedish like Norwegian? I know I found Norwegian easy to read as was very like Dutch.... but Danish was easier to understand.

Can't quite imagine any year 7s with limited French/Latin can interpret much Swedish other than educated guess work.... which doesn't seem much of an indicator for language ability!!

Guilders15 Wed 16-Nov-16 00:58:53

Thanks everyone, interesting responses. DD hasn't studied any languages before, which is partly why she was so pleased with the French marks. Only yr 7 so , hopefully plenty of time to move up if she carries on doing well, was just a bit perplexed by the approach.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 16-Nov-16 07:00:33

Can't quite imagine any year 7s with limited French/Latin can interpret much Swedish other than educated guess work.

It'll be an aptitude test, not expecting them to suddenly translate Swedish. I can't find it online with a very very quick Google, but it would be more like (an easier version of) the language aptitude test my dd took when applying to university - see www.classics.ox.ac.uk/tests.html Some schools have partial selection with some places offered on the grounds of linguistic aptitude and must also use similar tests.

fourcorneredcircle Wed 16-Nov-16 10:27:59

It doesn't ask them to translate. A (very simple) example question might be:

Horse = Häst horses = hästar
Dog = hund dogs = _____

Or

Which one of these do you think is the Swedish word for a vegetable?
Fisk Rådjur Hund Potatis

Quite a lot of it relies on spotting patterns in letters and words which is the skill that carries most able linguists. Lots of students really enjoy the puzzle side of it. And, because it at least starts pretty simple most students can access at least some of it. We do it as a "challenge" in lessons as a way to discuss language rather than a formal test.

Sadik Wed 16-Nov-16 16:19:16

I've always wondered about those sort of tests. Don't they just pick up pupils who are good at verbal reasoning, rather than foreign languages specifically? I'd be very good at them - but languages were definitely my weakest subject at O level, and I suspect the same is likely to be true of dd.

AuntieStella Wed 16-Nov-16 16:26:14

It's not quite a VR test

Sorry, it's a while since I've eyeballed one, so don't want to mis-describe, but the difference lie in a language aptitude test will tell you everything you need and it's there to refer to - unless computer based in which some bits vanish - and see how quick and accurate you are on the uptake. Whereas VR also requires pre-existing knowledge of the language in which it is taken.

But they are related skills, so a candidate who scores highly for VR is quite likely to do well at language acquisition too.

Eolian Wed 16-Nov-16 16:27:49

I think it's a great idea. I'm a languages teacher but have never worked in a school with that kind of test. Kids have such different levels of mfl taught at primary school, not to mention different actual languages. It is very unfair to aim to set by ability but actually set purely by experience. A child might be a real natural at languages but end up in the bottom set for French because their primary did Spanish.

Sadik Wed 16-Nov-16 17:01:05

Interestingly dd says in her school pretty much all the top set for french/those who've taken it for GCSE were bilingual to start with (in languages other than French!) - I guess having a second language already makes a massive difference.

Guilders15 Wed 16-Nov-16 18:54:14

I get why it's useful to take account of aptitude. In DD's case has been a bit demotivating - she feels she had worked hard, got full marks in French tests (with no prior experience) but not seen by the teachers as doing well. Been a bit tired and emotional over a few things and sadly this hasn't helped. Doing the whole ' keep working hard and you'll do well ' thing but would have hoped effort & results taken into account alongside aptitude.

fourcorneredcircle Wed 16-Nov-16 19:08:55

Maybe it's like Salik said and top set is full of bilingual children?

Or maybe top set was full and they had to make a cut somewhere? Or balance out "personalities". Keep encouraging your daughter, I'm sure if she keeps getting 100% there will be someone in set 1 that gets lower and so she will see movement in year 8.

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