DD and her Spanish teacher. GRRRR!!!!

(67 Posts)
drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 14:50:50

DD speaks (almost) fluent spanish (Murcia). she's in yr7 and her Spanish teacher seems to really dislike her. We (her & I) accept that her accent is regional but everyone else in her class is learning Spanish from scratch. Rather than praise DD for what she does know, teacher is forever putting DD1 down for her accent (knows the right words and verbs but tends to drop her sounds because of the regional accent she has developed). DD has won her school entry for the national Spanish spelling Bee but teacher still will not give her any credit.

When, in class, they have certain exercises the teacher will constantly make DD repeat and repeat her sentences til she sounds out every sound whereas another student can stumble through with (really bad) annunciation and get loads of praise.

Is this a case of the teacher pushing DD or does she really dislike her for her already formed accents and idea (as in practical rather than text book spanish)

DD started this school 3 weeks into term, and as soon as the teacher knew DD knew some spanish she seemed to immediately challenge her

AuntFini Fri 04-Jan-13 14:57:01

How odd. I'm a German teacher and I have a year 7 who is almost fluent, but who has a very strong bavarian accent. I would never correct his regional accent. I learnt German in Berlin and I don't automatically think that my pronunciation is any more correct that his. Maybe the teacher feels threatened by your dd? (Inexcusable as she's 11/12 , but that's all I can think of)

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 15:00:10

She may be uncomfortable knowing that she knows more Spanish than herself perhaps?

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 15:03:32

Yes, I wondered the same as AuntFini. My half-sister (native English speaker) grew up in the Netherlands and one of her friends (also native English speaker) went to a Dutch school and had a dreadful time in one of his English classes because the teacher really took against him.

Picking on the accent is totally unacceptable - I have a degree in Spanish and there's no way anyone would get marked down for an accent. I have Spanish friends who learnt English in Glasgow - and it obviously showed in their accent! That's how it goes.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 15:04:05

I think I tend to agree. Fortunately I have a Spanish friend who knows DD1 very well and she is due to come into DDs spanish class for the new term as an assistant. She really champions my DD so am hoping she might restore some balance.

I really do appreciate the different dialects and accents, and it's not helped when DD does challenge her teacher. The teacher is Spanish but from the North, and I know from personal experience that they can be very stubborn from region to region. However, my DD has always known that the Murcian style to drop many sounds is not always correct and she's more than willing to learn 'text book' rather than local. Just so sad teacher can't give her the confidence and praise she deserves.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 15:38:37

Interesting OP. I went into Y7 with almost fluent German, having lived there for several years. My teacher behaved similarly to how you describe, although perhaps not so extreme. I always thought she was just a grumpy cow grin, but maybe there is a reason... do they perhaps not want the rest of the class picking up a regional accent?

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 15:42:01

If the teacher is Spanish herself, it doesn't seem likely that she is threatened by your DD. Maybe annoyed that your DD is challenging a native speaker, IYSWIM? I get challenged by non-native (but practically fluent) English speakers sometimes, and it is very annoying.

If she has specific questions, perhaps she could go and talk to the teacher at break/after class.

Muminwestlondon Fri 04-Jan-13 16:04:31

An urgent phone call to the head of year/head of dept is in order I think. Sorry if that sounds confrontational but it is absolutely outrageous that your dd should be treated like that. I think some ground rules need to be set out. If it is not simple bullying what exactly is the teacher trying to achieve and is she going the best way about it?

Delayingtactic Fri 04-Jan-13 16:11:31

Is there a way to get in touch with teacher? I wonder whether she's pushing your daughter to get the best out of her, but she might just be a grumpy cow.

When native language teaching came in in SA, our school taught Zulu. We had a guy in our class who was native Zulu and the teacher (learnt as second language, white as snow woman) tore strips off him for 'incorrect pronounciation'. It was excruciating to watch. I know that obviously there were racial issues at play as well, but I think she in addition hated the idea of anyone questioning her ability.

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 16:11:58

Is the OP's dd challenging the teacher, whiteflame? I read it as the teacher challenging the dd in the final para of the opening post.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:12:12

Muminwestlondon I did wonder if I should approach someone, but it's so hard moving up from primary, where you have direct and regular contact with teachers, to secondary where I don't want to fight DDs battles nor be labelled as a pushy parent. I guess I'm still trying to work out how involved I really should be (instinct was to phone and discuss but don't want to make the situation any worse nor draw unnecessary attention onto DD)

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:14:11

I was in the same situation as a child, though not with Spanish. I think some teachers just find kids who are way ahead of the curve for whatever reason incredibly threatening. As a teacher of sorts myself I find this attitude totally incomprehensible, but it does exist. I have to ask, though - If your dd is nearly fluent in a class of beginners, should she be there at all? She can hardly be getting much out of it. In her situation I just switched to German instead, which was way more valuable than sitting bored stiff for the next 3 years+.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 16:19:22

Tribpot, I read it in the second paragraph of the OP's second post (at 15:04). Possibly the OP didn't mean challenging in the strong sense of the word, but I don't think any challenging will help things here.

I second maybe having a chat with the teacher, maybe more general things at first like "could you recommend some books/films DD could read/watch", and sort of gauge her reaction, and maybe get her side of things.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:19:29

DD won't challenge the teacher but will stand up for herself. She understands the dialect she has learnt is not totally correct (think East End/Glaswegian Versus the 'Queens English'). we have always told her this so she understands her 'tardiness' needs correcting. But she will not repeat the same sentence several times when she knows she has already pronounced each and every sound, and is stood in front of her class (others in her class admire her and acknowledge she is doing well) I think she objects to what she perceives as some attempt at humiliation.

I can see a time though when DD will confront the teacher through sheer frustration)

ZZZenAgain Fri 04-Jan-13 16:20:24

I think you need to take this up with the school on your dd'Sa behalf. To me frankly it does sound like an attempt at humiliation

JenaiMorris Fri 04-Jan-13 16:22:33

I think it would be worth having a chat with the teacher, really I do. Explain that your daughter is upset, ask if there's anything you can do to help, acknowledge that maybe your daughter is misconstruing things. The teacher might have no idea. Or indeed she might be a horrible cow in which case she still needs to stop doing this!

If this were ds's school I'd drop her an email and ask to come in for a chat. Obviously processes to getting in touch with teachers differ between (and indeed within) schools though.

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 16:24:35

Sorry whiteflame, yes, you're right.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 16:25:33

In that case drivinmecrazy, I would definitely talk to the teacher (and head of year if no joy). You could say something like, "DD seems to be having trouble with her pronunciation. Could you give me some pointers on how to help her, because getting her to repeat everything several times in front of the class is obviously not working." And then listen to what she has to say/watch her squirm wink

It really does sound horrible.

MiniEggsinJanuary Fri 04-Jan-13 16:26:16

How odd. Teacher is probably trying to make herself feel more proficient by belittling the talents of a 11/12 year old!

admission Fri 04-Jan-13 16:28:03

The question for me is whether other pupils have to go to the front of the class. stand there and pronounce each and every sound. If they do then I think I would tend towards your DD being over sensitive and needing to accept that it might be below her ability but that everybody is being treated equally. If however she is the only one who has to do this, then that is definitely a cause for concern and needs you to ask a few questions at school, maybe starting with the head of languages.

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:30:18

Sorry to press the point again - I'm sure challenging the teacher might make her stop the bullying, but it is never going to make the class an appropriate one for your dd. As someone who remembers sitting almost crying with boredom over a 'for first year beginners' textbook when I was reading entire novels at home, I'd be tackling the bigger question of why the school think it is appropriate for a near native speaker to be sitting in the same class as total beginners. It isn't!

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 16:32:29

Sadly, I have heard of other cases (in more than one country) of MFL teachers picking on pupils who speak the language in question better than, or differently to, them.

I think you need to talk to the teacher to get her view on your DD and then, depending on what happens, you might need to go above her.

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:33:14

libelulle she's at a school that teaches Spanish and French up to yr 9. She's pretty fortunate in French too in that her primary taught French from yr1.

I think I will send teacher a friendly E-mail, asking for advise on any areas she feels DD really needs to work on.

I think my DD also doesn't understand that her teachers in yr7 are pushing her a bit more than at primary, where she completely coasted. Maybe an important lesson for her to learn.

weegiemum Fri 04-Jan-13 16:34:03

As far as I'm aware the teacher should be looking for consistency over anything. I learnt a lot of French when my mum and stepdad lived in Toulouse in s. France and I'd a ghastly accent but my teacher said as long as I didn't mix it in with parisienne French I'd be fine - and I was.

It sounds like the teacher is being very unprofessional (I'm a teacher). One of my dd1's friends is a native French speaker (her dad is French though she and her mum live in Glasgow now, dad still in France). They're in s1 (=y7) and dds friend is sitting her higher French this year (normally done in s5 = y11) and school have totally facilitated this. That's what I'd hope would happen for your dd. My dc go to a bilingual school already so they're very language aware but there's no excuse for your dd being run down because she can already speak Spanish!!

Is there a more challenging Spanish class your daughter could be put in? I was fairly fluent in Spanish, and the school gave me additional work at my level to help me maintain the standards I was at. Maybe that is something to ask about too?

drivinmecrazy Fri 04-Jan-13 16:35:30

admission she is the only one

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:46:39

Regardless she should not be in a class years and years behind her ability level- what a waste of time for all concerned. The teacher should be setting her completely different work of her own, and if that is not possible then she should be allowed to sit in the library and catch up with other work instead. Differentiation is the watchword right through school, so it is totally inappropriate for the school to put an advanced speaker into a class full of beginners and expect her to learn next to nothing for the next 5 years. This seems as much an issue as the bullying.

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 16:51:14

Having just read yr last post, I'd be v surprised if the issue was coasting here. If they have just started learning Spanish, it is going to be unimaginably tedious for your dd to sit through 'hola my name is' kind of stuff for lesson after lesson. Secondary language teaching is pretty dumbed down at the best of times, so it's going to be years and years of the basics ahead.

bran Fri 04-Jan-13 17:04:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LoopsInHoops Fri 04-Jan-13 17:05:17

I have to agree with libelulle. I am a MFL teacher, and have native speakers in a few of my classes (international school). I try to find them work that is special to them but on a similar theme when appropriate (realing and listening mostly), or use differentiation by outcome for writing and speaking tasks (eg. they will produce an expended essay, beginners a blank-fill writing task).

I hate to judge and generalise, but I have found that native teachers from both France and Spain tend towards a very traditional, rote method of teaching, which is considered démodé in UK teaching now. It is much harder to differentiate if you are expecting pupils to listen and repeat, or learn to memorise passages than if you are playing games and using active learning. Of course, this may not be the problem.

If I were you I wouldn't pussyfoot around with the "how can we help her pronunciation" thing, I would be more forthright and ask for a meeting with the classroom teacher and HoD (not HoY), and come prepared with some questions, the main ones being 'how are you differentiating for my DD?' and 'how can you improve on this?'

She might struggle to answer these questions, so it might be worth considering some suggestions. Do the school subscribe to journals or magazines? Or do they have novels in Spanish that she could read? What websites do they have subscriptions for? If she is almost fluent, they will have work suitable for A level students (perhaps not the abortion euthanasia stuff, but some would be relevant). But actually, I would seriously consider pressing for early entry GCSE Spanish, and for her to take French from year 8. Primary French won't have made much difference with her levels - she should settle into a y8 French class in September without any problems.

It is not appropriate that she is completing the same work as beginners; neither is it OK for the teacher to belittle her different accent. Please feel free to PM me or ask any questions on this thread if I can be of any help with practical suggestions.

mrsshackleton Fri 04-Jan-13 17:34:28

I used to teach English in Italy in a state secondary school. Some of the teachers spoke terrible English and loathed me because they were frightened I'd pick them up on their mistakes (I never did, horrible as it was to hear them passing on mistakes to the children). A couple made my life a misery

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 17:44:19

"I hate to judge and generalise, but I have found that native teachers from both France and Spain tend towards a very traditional, rote method of teaching, which is considered démodé in UK teaching now. It is much harder to differentiate if you are expecting pupils to listen and repeat, or learn to memorise passages than if you are playing games and using active learning."

And who gets better results in MFL, the English, the French or the Spanish?

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 17:47:30

No, bran - there's no such thing as a standard Spanish accent, although I'm quite sure the people of Madrid would beg to differ. There's no such thing as a standard English accent for the same reason - the language is spoken in far too many countries, never mind regions, worldwide.

The accent the OP is referring to can be quite hard to understand because of the swallowing of letters (a bit like cockney but on steroids) but it seems like the DD is aware of this and trying to make sure she speaks more clearly than she would, say, with a bunch of fellow teens in Murcia.

Spanish also has a highly diverse vocabulary - for example a lot of words for fruit and vegetables differ between countries (often because the local word has been adopted into Spanish). Thus there's plenty to get grips with beyond accent when speaking to people in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world smile Latin Americans will normally (but nicely) rip the piss out of Spanish people for using the lisping "thetheo" version of Spanish which is not generally spoken there - I don't use thetheo now except for words which are inextricably linked to Spain for me, like Jerez and Aranjuez.

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 17:58:58

Bonsoir, I don't know, but none of the three are exactly distinguished by their foreign language proficiency!! I'm surprised to see you defending French traditionalism. I'm a product of both systems and can see the good in both but if you look at the product of Anglo-Saxon v. Continental universities, if push came up shove I'd go anglosaxon all the way! But sorry for the thread derail op!

admission Fri 04-Jan-13 21:33:08

If she is the only one coming to the front of the class then it is time to talk to the head of languages and if necessary escalate to the head teacher, it is personal and therefore unacceptable.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 22:18:00

When it comes to the teaching of MFL, I am a huge traditionalist!

libelulle Fri 04-Jan-13 23:01:26

Hmm, I wonder. Whatever the Germans do, that's what we should do! The French and the English are both rubbish at languages, therefore I conclude both systems must be crapsmile Seriously though, to caricature slightly, one seems to encourage understanding of obscure grammar above actually functioning in the language, and the other tries to encourage functioning without ensuring a basic grounding in the structure of the language. Neither are exactly conducive to fluency.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 02:51:15

"And who gets better results in MFL, the English, the French or the Spanish?"

I'm not sure you can equate. The fact is (I think?) we're talking about a UK school with UK students and UK curriculum.

Someone mentioned Germany. Yes. We absolutely should be teaching languages all through schools and placing a high importance on their learning. It's such a shame that the Conservative scrapped that policy as soon as they got in.

whiteflame Sat 05-Jan-13 08:25:00

A bit off topic, but my DH is German, and we've tried to figure out what makes MFL learning so much better in Germany. So far we've come up with 3 things.

First, the teachers run their classes from (almost) day 1 completely in English. No explaining things in German, no talking to your classmates in the native language. Once you're through the door you speak/are spoken to in the language you're learning. DH was quite shocked that this wasn't my experience.

Second, there is an attitude that learning the language is actually necessary - that you will need to be able to function with the language during your life. This means that your parents/school will place the same emphasis on the MFL as maths, science, etc.

Third is the level of exposure. German kids hear English songs on the radio, and see English TV from a young age. There are also regular high school exchanges to England (and France) with homestays where the hosts don't speak your native language.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 09:38:56

The French are not as bad at English or Spanish as the British are at MFL. All French bac général candidates do two MFL to 18 (mostly English and Spanish - and Spanish is quite well taught in France) and many DCs can actually speak English at the end of this, as well as other languages.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 09:43:42

But, Bonsoir, you're not comparing like for like. If we taught MFL as a compulsory subject from primary to 18 I bet we'd get better results too.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 09:48:31

I am comparing results with results, and then we can work out which teaching system ends up with better results!

LadyMargolotta Sat 05-Jan-13 09:55:39

Good post whiteflame. You are probably right.

tribpot - DD1 was taught French by a Spaniard with a degree from Glasgow - her accent was "interesting" smile.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 10:54:14

What results with what results? gibberish

libelulle Sat 05-Jan-13 11:10:37

Well not really bonsoir. You can't compare the efficacy of 'traditional' and 'modern' ways of learning languages if one system teaches traditional ways for 12 years and 6 hours a week and the other modern ways for 5 years and 2 hours!

I'm with you that France teaches Spanish well. English? Well I have a zillion aunts, uncles and cousins and they all studied English at school. Only one of them can actually speak more than a few words, and that's because he's a businessman and learnt it as an adult.

ninani Sat 05-Jan-13 11:41:17

OP, I think admission gave you the best advice that you need. Directly to the point!!!! Picking her out is discriminating and humiliating. Also if you ask the teacher for "advice" she will feel justified in what she already does and might even intensify it. In her eyes your daughter is already "wrong" and deserves such treatement just because she has a regional accent. Don't feed her methods.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 12:12:32

libellule - it is not really very useful to compare the English the generation above you learned in France with what the French English children are learning in England today...

I know an awful lot of French children at lycée now...

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 12:47:25

Bonsoir, you are very stubbornly missing the point. We can only compare modern teaching methods with traditional if we have all other factors the same. Probably the best way of doing this would be to find a private school in the UK that prioritises MFL but insists on modern teaching methods, then we can compare it with students at a collège or a lycée in France. Do you have that data to hand? No?

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 14:17:24

I'm not missing the point at all and I am 100% certain that my experience of MFL teaching methods across countries and generations is a lot greater than yours smile

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 14:20:20

What on earth has that got to do with anything? Feel free to enlighten us on your stunning MFL teaching CV, but it doesn't really add to this thread at all.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 14:22:55

Contrary to what you wrote in your second to last post, there is an awful lot of research out there comparing MFL teaching methods and outcomes. You don't have to invent your own baby experiment you know!

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 14:33:05

Yes, you're right. Care to find something that proves one of your points? My point about comparing a specific UK school with a French one was to highlight that you were comparing two entirely different things, not to actually create a 'baby' you are in a bit of a mood, aren't you?! experiments. Clearly you're struggling to understand.

And yes, actually I am dying to know about your international MFL teaching/learning experience. I did a quick search and can only find you wittering about your DD's experiences. Pray, tell us of your wealth of experience.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 05-Jan-13 14:37:30

I teach MFL and have one or two children who are bilingual, or more or less bilingual. I wouldn't dream of correcting their pronunciation, and in fact when they are confident and happy to do so I use them as a sort of unofficial language assistant within the classroom. However, it is often the case that although they SPEAK the language very well they do not write it nearly as well as they imagine they do - they write down the words and sounds they hear in their head but with very little regard for grammatical accuracy! Those children sometimes need to work harder than other naturally able children to get the written side of things right. So it may be that the teacher feels threatened and is bullying your daughter, or it may be that the teacher sees both the potential and the disadvantages in your daughter's situation and is trying to get the very best out of her. However, forcing her to repeat the same phrase over and over in front of her classmates doesn't sound good unless she is modelling good pronunciation and your daughter has misunderstood her intentions? I would email the teacher, be very positive and say how pleased you are the DD can learn Spanish with a native speaker, ask if there are specific sounds she needs to focus on, and depending on the response you get you should be able to determine whether you are dealing with someone with high standards and expectations or someone with regional prejudice and an attitude problem...

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 14:41:56

Learned 5 MFL, all of which I studied in several countries and school or university, both with native speakers in their own countries and outside. Family full of multilingual people. Currently board member of association in MFL field. Loads of stuff. Don't want to out myself.

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 14:42:28

Come on Bonsoir, still waiting for your credentials. I'm intrigued!

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 14:44:13

ah, xposts.

"100% certain that my experience of MFL teaching methods across countries and generations is a lot greater than yours"

Not from the sound of it. smile

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 14:45:24

Then tell me!

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 14:50:57

7 MFL studied
Current HoMFL in international school, previous HoMFL in UK school, plus years of other MFL teaching experience - primary and secondary, UK and abroad.

Undertaking PhD researching modern MFL teaching methods

So, basically, you learned some languages and know some others who have, and think that qualifies you to talk with authority on teaching methods? hmm

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 15:03:23

ha ha! told

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 15:10:34

If you were doing a serious PhD, you wouldn't have made that clanger about the silly baby research project to assess methods. You would know all about the research.

JenaiMorris Sat 05-Jan-13 15:11:37

snigger at the battle of the MFL giants. Fierce wink

LoopsInHoops Sat 05-Jan-13 15:14:56

she started it! grin

Bonsoir Sat 05-Jan-13 15:37:34

You certainly rose to the bait wink

tribpot Sat 05-Jan-13 17:56:42

Fierce and yet - so far - conducted entirely in English. C'mon ladies, we can use Google Translate to keep up if you wanna slug it out multilingually.

JenaiMorris Sat 05-Jan-13 18:45:16

YES! A multi-lingual bunfight! grin

Summersbee Sun 06-Jan-13 19:44:06

"¡Bueno, aquí estoy mirándoles!"

Going back to the original thread ...
From personal experience I would recommend switching to another language in school in order to be appropriately challenged and develop good learning skills.
Longterm I would strongly encourage DD to take up Spanish again before she leaves school - she might feel scared to if she has left it for a few years, but it will come back in a flash, and she will need to study it again to turn it into a really good skill for life.
To cheer DD up, and help her with her accent, she might like to look at 'Hola, me llamo Billy' online ...

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