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To complain to son's school and request a re-mark? And a re-wording of the exam?

(47 Posts)
ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 08:47:00

We are English, live in Germany, kids go to local German school. My ds is in Q11 (for those who know system), similar to 1st year of A Levels.

His English teacher's English is not exactly great. eg recently taught them the word 'anxiety' as ang-shitty. Every lesson she makes big mistakes.

Anyway, recent exam, very important, he got (for him) a poor mark. I looked through it. The teacher has made several mistakes in her corrections, which annoy/cause me concern, both spelling and grammar. For my ds, it's not such a big deal. Poor bloody kids who are actually learning English though.

Anyway, the exam was an excerpt from a book, scene between a jaded married couple on holiday in a hotel.

Question is:-

"Analyse the woman's character as well as her relationship to her husband".

Amongst the corrections/suggestions she has written are
- why does she want a cat so much?
- he is passive and disinterested.
- she wants to be more feminine.
- maybe she can't have children.

IMO, these aren't character traits, so feel unfair to penalise him for not mentioning them?

Also, now I think she doesn't actually mean her character, but that figure in the story for want of a better word. so not her personality but the figure as a whole. Does that make sense? And can you help me think of a better way of wording it?

And finally, aim to complain to the school about her English? I've never done so before, and believe me, we have let a lot go over the years, but now every mark counts to his end result. On the 1st page alone, I see at least 5 mistakes!

echt Thu 14-Dec-17 08:58:32

Impossible to comment without reading the passage.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:04:53

ok. But what would you understand to be the instruction if asked to analyse the woman's character? How would you interpret that?

And would you raise concerns if the teacher made several English mistakes in the test/marking?

Stompythedinosaur Thu 14-Dec-17 09:05:13

YANBU to raise it.

I'm not sure about the character thing. I can see why you/your ds would have interpreted the question as meaning her personality but I thing the teacher meant the character in the story, which isn't an incorrect use of the word.

YellowFlower201 Thu 14-Dec-17 09:05:30

Op I grew up in a similar context and my English teacher was abysmal. I consistently got marked down partly because I would question what she taught us and she obviously didn't like that. I was 11 and sometimes genuinely confused as her grammar was bad but she'd always have some explanation for it.
Are you a native English speaker. I would speak to her personally first. If no go I'd approach the head.

HuskyMcClusky Thu 14-Dec-17 09:11:17

I think the question should have been worded as: ‘Analyse the female character’, or ‘Analyse the character named xxx’

There is a subtle but important difference between analysing a person in a story (which is what the teacher meant), and analysing the character of that person.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:13:10

I have spoken to her directly about it. She refused to even look at it again. I have its phone the school and they are going to get the head of the upper school to get in touch.

I understand teaching a native speaker can be difficult. Like I say, we've never complained before, but if they can't even write a question correctly, or form an adverb, or spell a common work correctly or use prepositions correctly, and it impacts on my ds A Level results, I feel I need to say something.

I guess understanding the instruction analyse the character is important.

corythatwas Thu 14-Dec-17 09:14:04

If she has written suggestions that's what they are, not marking criteria. What these suggestions suggest to me (as somebody who regularly corrects English essays) is that your son's writing was a perhaps little thin and not sufficiently grounded in the story.

Besides, the question as you record it said quite clearly analyse "the woman's character and her relationship to her husband". Now I haven't read the story but I imagine every single one of those suggestions could have been relevant to the second part of that question. If you go in and complain while ignoring half the question, you really will look like "one of those parents".

More generally, your son is doing the first year of his A-levels; he is well on the way to becoming a young adult. If he has a problem with the way his tests are run, then he should be raising this with the teacher (in a courteous way).

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:15:07

When I said it should be relationship with her husband, not relationship to her husband, she just laughed. But they mean 2 different things! My son shouldn't have to try to guess what he is teacher might really mean.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:19:00

I agree, he should have spoken to her first and told him to raise it with her. I only spoke to her because coincidentally it was parents' evening. And I wish to take it further now, because she would not listen to me, or even agree to look at it again. She told me to take it further if I wasn't happy. I didn't at first, but now I think she fundamentally means something different to what she wrote. A misunderstanding. Based on her not-optimal English.

Ontopofthesunset Thu 14-Dec-17 09:19:42

It is a very difficult situation for you, isn't it? Obviously, we know her relationship to her husband; she is his wife. So the preposition makes a key difference if you're a native speaker.

I suppose all of the points she suggests could be about her relationship with her husband ie she wants a cat because she does not feel he shows her enough affection or something.

I would concentrate on what is wrong in the English language corrections.

RestingGrinchFace Thu 14-Dec-17 09:22:56

YANBU. Your son's grade shouldn't suffer because his teacher is incompetent.

Mummyoflittledragon Thu 14-Dec-17 09:26:39

YANBU at all. Do you have a native German, who could translate these into German for the School head to illustrate your point?

She is clearly asking for character traits and for confirmation she’s his wife and if she is a distant relative.

As an adult, who speaks a couple of languages, I could get what she meant. It’s not so easy for a 17 yo.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:27:08

If it was any other year, I'd leave it, as i have done many times in the past.

But now, it counts towards his final mark. And I want to raise it, so that they are more careful in the future with the correct wording of exam questions. They should be grammatically correct!

Despite her best efforts, my son did not make one spelling or grammatical error in the whole exam. Unlike his teacher! grin hmm

Mumof56 Thu 14-Dec-17 09:27:44

but that figure in the story for want of a better word. so not her personality but the figure as a whole. Does that make sense? And can you help me think of a better way of wording it

You as a native speaker can't phrase it hmm

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:30:36

I'm not teaching A Level English hmm

HuskyMcClusky Thu 14-Dec-17 09:32:44

YANBU. I wouldn’t be happy with that at all.

AnathemaPulsifer Thu 14-Dec-17 09:35:40

It's not brilliant English but in that context I think I'd have been fairly clear what they were asking. He needed to analyse the female character and her relationship with her husband. In the context of all their studies, practice questions etc that's the sort of question one might expect when analysing a text, it's obviously not going to be her relationship 'to' her husband so he - knowing her English isn't flawless - needs to learn to look to the intention behind the questions. Character has two meaning and you've chosen to focus on only one of them, partly due to the teacher's clumsy phrasing.

I'm not excusing her errors, but based on what I know of the German school system I doubt she'll change so you need to help your son to navigate the reality not the ideal situation.

AlexaDoTheDishes Thu 14-Dec-17 09:39:36


Same issue here although we're further down the school.

Is your DS doing Abi or IB? For IB you can do a self taught language - if he's doing Abi can you look into whether there are any options whereby he can do self taught and still earn exam credit?

AlexaDoTheDishes Thu 14-Dec-17 09:40:28

Oh and yes - from what I know of the German school system expect them to be UTTERLY unaccomodating! smile

YellowFlower201 Thu 14-Dec-17 09:41:39

I would concentrate on her errors as I think that your son probably could have guessed what she wanted him to discuss and/or asked for clarification. Not ideal but he's 17 and should ask if he's not sure about something.
Her reaction to you is not ok though. I'd take it further.

ErnestTheBavarian Thu 14-Dec-17 09:43:02


I'll look into other options, hadn't considered that, thanks.

I don't want to rage. I want to politely ask if someone else will look at it again, and politely ask that they ensure the English is correct on an English exam. Asking for a re-mark is not at all unheard of.

HotelEuphoria Thu 14-Dec-17 09:43:40

Nothing valuable to offer I am afraid, but I would love to hear what she said when you explained how wrong ang-shitty was! - love that.

HeteronormativeHaybales Thu 14-Dec-17 09:47:55

Coming at this as a fellow Brit in Germany and veteran of several German-school English teachers (my kids, not me).

The content suggestions may be reasonable enough. I agree that there is a difference between 'the woman's character' and 'the character of the woman', but at this level there will be a fair bit of overlap. I also think it's clear what 'relationship to her husband' means - focusing on the incorrect preposition will be perceived as hair-splitting.

What's not so acceptable, it seems, is her standard of English and her incorrect 'corrections'. I have similar experiences, though not as drastic, but mine are younger and the odd inaccurancy doesn't matter yet (I just tell them the right versions - my middle ds has come to the very astute conclusion that 'Schulenglisch' is actually a separate variant of English grin ). At the stage your ds is at, and this apparent level of frequency, this matters and needs raising. I know well what an appealing prospect that is, but I think you need to. Good luck.

HeteronormativeHaybales Thu 14-Dec-17 09:49:06

InaccuraCy. Obviously. blush Of all the words for a typo!

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