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Advice from Language Teachers Please

(10 Posts)
Dancingdreamer Mon 22-Jan-18 18:32:30

My son is very keen to continue Spanish to GCSE. However his current grades are only at C level (no idea then how that would translate to the new GCSE grades!). I am relucant for him to opt for a subject where he will get quite a low level GCSE pass if at all. I emailed his Spanish teacher to see if there is anything we can do to help him improve his level and was given the following advice.

"We believe in the MFL department that at this level, doing the classwork and homework to the best of their ability is what is needed. Using other tools beyond the classroom are fine and well but from experience, can overwhelm pupils given that every word they might be encountering would be new to them potentially.

I'm sorry if this doesn't seem to help too much at this time but pupils doing their own work which might then be incorrect with no specialist linguist support can put a pupil off the subject off entirely, from experience."

I am not trying to undermine the teacher in any way but was surprised that no other resources were suggested. So I am am curious about what other language professionals would say.

Vietnammark Mon 22-Jan-18 21:00:24

I am not a secondary MFL teacher, but do have a lot of experience teaching languages and have a son who is currently learning 2MFLs and doing very well in them.

The following has worked well with him:

Listening to you tube videos in the target language: I used the word “listening” quite loosely. He does this on most days for about 10-15 minutes when he is: in the shower, brushing his teeth, getting dressed, etc. It is quite different from the vocab he is learning at school, but enough of it is similar and I believe that is reminds him of many words and phrases that he has studied and probably also helps him with his pronunciation.

Quizlet: This an app and other people have already created wordlists, that can be downloaded, that correspond exactly to the vocabulary that he is learning from his text book at school. I would imagine that they would also have wordlists for the book your son is studying.

I haven’t used them, but many EFL learners use Memrise and Duolingo to supplement school work.

clary Mon 22-Jan-18 22:51:02

Yes I like Memrise and Duolingo.

I would also say, especially for a weaker student, the two most important things are verbs and vocab.

If you don't get your verbs right - using present, past and future - then you won't get any marks in the GCSE writing and speaking exams. And vocab is of course vital. So rather than learn loads of new stuff, I kind of agree with your dc's teacher, he needs to consolidate classroom work.

Does he have a verbs list showing all the forms of regular verbs (-ar, -er, -ir) plus irregular ones - ser, estar, ir etc? if not it will be in any good dictionary. For vocab, again does he have a vocab book, vocab lists? if not then ask the teacher. HTH

Kokeshi123 Tue 23-Jan-18 00:19:14

I'm not a language teacher, but that sounds really odd to me. There are lots of good quality MFL support systems around these days. And isn't it generally the case with learning a language, that pretty much any additional exposure or engagement with the language tends to be helpful?

Dancingdreamer Tue 23-Jan-18 07:22:37

I agree he needs to get the basics right. My question is how do I help him best to do this? If the teacher has moved on to another topic and he hasn't consolidated his learning, what do we do to help him? I am not a language teacher either but I did learn a language when I lived abroad as an adult. My teacher said that I should listen to as much language as possible as you pick so much up passively. He encouraged me to listen to hear if stuff "sounded right" rather than just giving me lists of verbs and ver ending to learn.

senua Tue 23-Jan-18 08:21:37

My teacher said that I should listen to as much language as possible as you pick so much up passively. He encouraged me to listen to hear if stuff "sounded right" rather than just giving me lists of verbs and verb ending to learn.

We all have different ways of learning. That wouldn't have worked for me; I much preferred visual rather than aural. For example, written down you can see that the French word ville is probably something to do with the English words villa and village but I wouldn't get that from hearing the word because they pronounce their double-l differently.
If the teacher's method was producing a predicted A for your DC then I might follow their advice but on current form I think I would look around for some other/additional input.

PS Have you understood his grade correctly. It's not this nonsense 'if he took the exam tomorrow, he'd get a Grade C' rather than 'if he carries on at this rate, he will get a Grade C at the end of Y11'? Or our school had a nonsense 'he's below what you would expect a Y7 who has been doing this for years should get' - this after half a year of ab initio! What grades are the rest of his class getting?

Vietnammark Tue 23-Jan-18 10:21:51

Dancing Dreamer: Learning a language to be able to use it and passing an exam in a language can be two very different things.

My approach with my son, I believe, addresses both of these, but my son is still some away from his GCSEs so 8s 8n a different situation o yours. I think that to support his school work you should be looking at Quizlet and Memrise.

Dancingdreamer Tue 23-Jan-18 18:49:46

Thanks for the advice so far. I think C is just his grade compared to the rest if the class rather than a GCSE prediction. To me it means he is just average but nit ourstanding which is frustrating considering he that a few years ago he was told he was told by another teacher that he was one if the strongest in the class and had an aptitude for languages!

hevonbu Tue 23-Jan-18 19:06:59

I learned English as a second language by (in the 1970's) tape paper strips covering the text of our TV set in the living room, to the annoyance of my parents, then watching as many programs I could, whatever show was aired that night. Much later I learned to understand French by subscribing to TV5 on cable, and watching it.

Why not listen to Spanish-speaking radio? Here's a channel. www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/archipielago-noticias/
In the menu there are links leading on to both TV and radio.

Think there's something called Ceran lingua for juniors that you might want to check out, it's some sort of summer camp.

Maybe your son comes across as "average" because the class is boring? That's also a possibility. If it's not fun, one does not put in the extra effort... as a child that is... I recall...

irvineoneohone Tue 23-Jan-18 19:41:15

I also really like duolingo and memrise. I am not MFL teacher but one of the language my ds is learning is my native, and he has learned so much doing few minutes a day over the years. Especially vocab and pronunciation. I really can't see why doing extra won't help.

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