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Does not having a modern language GCSE really have an impact on UCL applications?

(29 Posts)
L1vewell Thu 23-Apr-20 13:47:32

Just that really.

Ds interested in doing Computer Science.

titchy Thu 23-Apr-20 13:50:28

No. But he'd have to be happy to take a language module when he's there.

L1vewell Thu 23-Apr-20 13:57:06

How hard would the module be? Was doing gcse Spanish and annoyingly ditched it just before lock down as hated it and would only have got a 5. When he put effort in it he scored higher 7s but he wanted to focus on other subjects.

L1vewell Thu 23-Apr-20 13:58:29

I did warn him.🙄

titchy Thu 23-Apr-20 14:07:06

Have you read the website? He has to attend and be assessed. He doesn't have to pass that assessment.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/languages-international-education/study/modules/courses-and-applying/ucl-modern-foreign-language-requirement

SirTobyBelch Thu 23-Apr-20 14:29:20

I talked to someone at UCL about this a while ago. If students don't have a modern foreign language GCSE they do have to engage with language learning at university, but I don't think it's terribly onerous. Titchy has added details.

L1vewell Thu 23-Apr-20 14:34:31

Thanks Titchy It mentioned a summer school before which could be an option. How long do the other options last and do you need to pass? He wouldn’t want to do it for the whole course. 😩 It said something about engaging to pass your degree. How do they measure that?confused

L1vewell Thu 23-Apr-20 14:37:26

Actually wasn’t engaging but failing to satisfy the requirement. They mentioned an evening class. Not sure how hard the modules are. All seems a bit bonkers for a Computer Science degree. Shame they won’t taking coding languages.grin

aibutohavethisusername Thu 23-Apr-20 14:45:51

DD is holding an offer for History at UCL and does not have a foreign language.
You can do the 15 credits as part of the course OR as over above the modules.

DD only did French in Y7 & Y8 & Y9. She is currently learning Latin on DuoLingo. She’d like to do Spanish or Italian.

titchy Thu 23-Apr-20 15:23:20

BSL looks like a good option!

L1vewell Thu 23-Apr-20 17:20:47

What’s BSL?

titchy Thu 23-Apr-20 17:32:28

British sign language.

Xenia Sat 25-Apr-20 19:43:46

It is one reason for decades most teenagers at decent schools have done at least one forieng language GCSE. I did French and German (and then German A level). My father even in about 1947 had to take German I think in the sixth form to read medicine at Durham if I remember correctly what he had said. All my 5 children have done a foreign language GCSE - 4 did French and one German even thought it is not required for most universities now - it just looks more educated, better, traditional and is useful to have the language skills in life too and they are quite hard GCSEs so may be look better later on a CV,

Ginfordinner Sun 26-Apr-20 14:09:13

DD went to a decent comprehensive school, but MFLs weren't compulsory at GCSE.
with excellent grades and one with a poor grade.
She said that the language teachers weren't very good, and quite frankly I think she was right. I used to help her with her French homework (I have A level French) and I was shocked that she didn't know what "conjugate a verb" meant, even in year 9. In DD's case, dropping French meant that she ended up with 10 GCSEs with excellent grades, not 9 with excellent grades and one with a poor grade.

bpisok Sun 26-Apr-20 14:25:14

DD dropped her MFL before her GCSEs and still got offers from Cambridge,Durham, UCL, Birmingham and Liverpool.
So it's clearly not as important as some on MN suggest!!!
UCL said that she would need to turn up at a MFL language class but had no need to take/pass an exam but her attendance would be recorded. It wouldn't count towards her degree unless she selected it as a credited module. You can def choose sign language as your MFL.

Hope that helps!

Xenia Sun 26-Apr-20 14:56:55

Absolutely. The days when my poor father had to cram an O level language in the sixth form to be able to o Durham are long gone. However employers may well want to see the traditional spread of subjects at GCSE and it can be useful on business trips to France to know a bit of the language. I would certainly put having one foreign language above say having one of the less academic subjects on a CV.

aibutohavethisusername Sun 26-Apr-20 15:20:58

As Ginfordinner says there was no point in encouraging DD to do a MFL for GCSE when it would have been a subject she wasn’t engaged in.

I say that from the perspective as someone with a French degree.

LittleFoxKit Sat 23-May-20 15:16:14

I didnt even realise some universities liked modern languages if your doing a non language course..

I didnt do any at GCSE which was approx 10 years ago, and am now going into masters at RG. confused

ErrolTheDragon Sat 23-May-20 22:27:37

* I didnt even realise some universities liked modern languages if your doing a non language course..*

It's not 'some', it's precisely one, and even UCL doesn't require you to have done one beforehand or seem very bothered, as PP have explained.

* All seems a bit bonkers for a Computer Science degree. Shame they won’t taking coding languages*

Yes...In over 30 years writing software I've precisely once found French very marginally useful in a work context - a variable name which made more sense when I realised the original developer must have been French. The company I work for is global, it's headquartered in Paris but the main language of communication is English (french version follows for some of the major stuff).

BubblesBuddy Sat 23-May-20 23:37:09

I think the point is that GCSEs are a general education not a specialist one. I think MFLs are not taught well in some schools but success at a MFL does show a good teaching and a better all round educated dc. Not necessarily a better educated one for a degree or a job.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 24-May-20 07:01:16

To be sure. Maybe the particular patchiness in MFL teaching is one of the reasons unis have dropped it as a requirement - effective discrimination against people who've not had access to good all round teaching would have run contra to their efforts at broadening access. And it wasn't good for the 'asymmetrically talented' - some extraordinarily clever but dyslexic students had no chance of oxbridge or UCL back in my day because English was struggle enough - their languages were maths and computer.

Needmoresleep Sun 24-May-20 08:11:57

Errolo, I tend to agree except that I would blame the GCSE syllabus which seems to be designed by natural linguists for natural linguists., and bugger anyone else. And seems to assume that all languages need to be taught as if they were Romance languages.

DS struggled with French but enjoyed German. He was at a school which taught German in a very traditional way. He liked the structure and once he had mastered the discipline of learning the set vocab each week, enjoyed piecing together sentences in a mathematical sort of way.

DDs German teaching, at a different school, followed the GCSE approach. Virtually no grammar, so at the end of her first year she had no idea how to conjugate ich bin, du bist etc. Instead she as learning set phrases with no explanation as to the structure behind. Even more bizarre was the approach to the oral. They were told what topics might come up and told to prepare answers to possible questions. There was no teacher input into the answers so DD was essentially learning stuff she had prepared, laden with errors. I speak German reasonably fluently, though don't write it, so was aware that it was wrong. Luckily someone in the group had a bilingual mum who sorted them all out and with me teaching her the grammatical basis for the phrases she was learning and a decent stab at the oral, she landed an A*. Even so DD would be pretty stuck in Germany unless someone wanted an indepth conversation about sperrmull.

DD is pretty dyslexic, so learning support were surprised she was taking languages at GCSE. I have never understood this as I have lived in places where people are illiterate yet speak six or seven languages fluently. Ditto her French is almost certainly better, in terms of being able to communicate, than many with A level, mainly because she came across plenty from Lycee CDG at her extra curricular so they mixed and switched between English and French.

I speak French and Spanish as well, and generally German is best for mathy types. People say it is "harder" but actually harder often poses less of a problem for bright logical kids. As you progress German probably is more impenetrable, because of the sentence structure and noun declensions. But GCSE is fine if taught suitably.

As regards UCL, some courses are really competitive to get onto, including Computer Science, so when your application is scored you want to be able to tick as many boxes as you can. I have no idea how much weighting UCL give having a language GCSE, but assume it might matter for borderline applicants. It presumably will depend on how strong the rest of the application is.

SeasonFinale Sun 24-May-20 09:48:33

As an added aside German and French have been harder to get better grades in than Spanish but were supposed to be being brought into line with the Spanish grading this year. Indeed the Guidance on Centre Assessed Grades issued has asked teachers not to attempt to do this and that the exam boards will carry this out.

If UCL is his "dream" uni or even a choice then it is not off the list but he just needs to be aware of the extra requirement. There are so many different languages they offer too especially a wide range of East European ones.

Needmoresleep Sun 24-May-20 10:09:36

Interesting as our experience was that German, which in both DCs schools was offered as an option as a second language after French, tended to attract the more able students. Either because they were bilingual in a similar language: Dutch, Swedish etc, or they had German links, or were top maths set types. Spanish was far more popular but the range of ability was greater.

BubblesBuddy Sun 24-May-20 11:46:49

Errol: there is huge patchiness in maths teaching too. Maths is often taught by non maths grads. Should we drop maths as a requirement due to this?

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