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Languages at school

(14 Posts)
wheresmycake Sun 12-Nov-17 12:21:32

My DC's primary school teaches French as its Foreign Language, other schools in the area teach Spanish. How does the language learnt in primary school affect teaching in secondary? Eg if she ends up at a secondary which teaches Spanish, do they tend to run 2 levels of class (beginners and more advanced) with the idea being that the children who learnt a different language at primary level catch up after a certain amount of time and they take the same GCSE and get similar grades?

RedSkyAtNight Sun 12-Nov-17 13:32:41

If this is a state primary, unless it is exceptional , unfortunately the amount of the language she actually learns is likely to be pretty minimal.

Secondary schools start from the assumption that no one has studied the language before (and they will also have DC who are native speakers or bilingual). My DS reckoned that due to the increased focus and greater time spent on the language they'd covered pretty much the same amount as he'd covered in primary school by Christmas of Y7.

RavenWings Sun 12-Nov-17 13:34:50

Seconding that most schools start with the assumption you don't speak the language - that's how it is in my country anyway.

robinR Sun 12-Nov-17 13:39:26

Language teaching in the uk is a disaster area.

The level of French learned in primary will be so beyond shit (typically) that the child will start as a beginner at secondary.

wheresmycake Sun 12-Nov-17 17:29:25

Thanks I'm not surprised 😊

clary Sun 12-Nov-17 21:17:52

MFL secondary teacher here. Yes, I start in year seven in the assumption of no knowledge. More able students who DID do some of the language in question will now and then find a task easy (eg lots learn birthdays and numbers, or colours) which just gives them a nice confidence boost, IME anyway.

PettsWoodParadise Sun 12-Nov-17 22:16:11

DD did French from Y1 at primary and has gone into secondary where many of her peers haven’t learnt the language so now in Y8 she is still finding it easy but also now finally enjoying it. She was fortunate to learn loads of different languages (Latin, German, Mandarin, Spanish) at primary in addition to French but just one year of each (it was independent sector). It really seems to have given her the language bug and she is now doing French, German and Mandarin in Y8 at her state school and loving it. Some of those who didn’t do any languages at Primary are less enthusiastic but that isn’t a very scientific poll, just DD’s class.

Seeline Mon 13-Nov-17 10:27:40

Most of the 'French' my two DCs learnt at primary had to be in-learnt at secondary, before learning it properly.

The teacher's at primary weren't specialist language teachers; several of the younger ones had not even learnt French at school, as Spanish seems to have become more popular. Vocab ignored the masculine/feminine issues so learning colours etc was pointless as there was no 'agreement' required. The pronunciation was atrocious.

robinR Mon 13-Nov-17 10:42:59

Seeline I attended a series of seminars where primary PGCE students "learned" to teach French.

It was utterly painful and an absolute mockery of language learning. I have no idea what the course provider thought they were achieving

Seeline Mon 13-Nov-17 10:46:13

That sounds awful robin !

I actually had a chat with one of my DCs teachers and she freely admitted she had never done any French at all. I am sorry to say it showed. She was a great teacher for everything else - it must have been terrible having to teach something that you had no idea about.

DullAndOld Mon 13-Nov-17 10:49:15

tbh after several years of 'learning' a language in primary, they will be at beginner level anyway. They just do the same lesson over and over again.

RedSkyAtNight Mon 13-Nov-17 11:12:32

DS was actually taught French by a native French speaker.
He still emerged from primary school not able to say much beyond hello, goodbye, thank you and "My name is".

I couldn't understand how he'd learnt so little in an hour a week for 4 years until I realized:
- In Y3 and Y4 MFL shared its hour with "library", which sometimes took over most of the whole session
- they repeat a lot as Dull says
- they replaced MFL for most of Y6 with extra maths/English in preparation for SATS
- MFL gets cancelled if there is a school play/concert or other school initiative

I'd hate to add up how many hours of MFL teaching he actually had, but I don't think it was that many.
Sadly, I suspect this is not an uncommon experience

EducationOpinionsRUs Mon 13-Nov-17 11:18:31

However, worth noting that it doesn't have to be so, and isn't in all schools. My DS emerged from prep school reading the same level of books for pleasure in French that he reads in English, and with a grammatical knowledge far exceeding what's required for GCSE. (Speaking is some way behind, but still, he's fine to be sent shopping in France.) And then yes, senior school sets accordingly.

iloveredwine Mon 13-Nov-17 11:48:12

in our primary school it has recently changed to being a German mfl school and there are 2 native German teachers that teach each class for 2 x hour per week. I also have an older child as as a result of this they get put into what ever language they have studied at primary level and have to carry this on till GCSE. They are also learning Japanese and Mandarin alternatively for the next year and can carry on.

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