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pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 15:42:51

DD is in Y8 and has to choose between the following for next year:

1 Latin only
2 Classical Civilisation only
3 German only
4 Russian only
5 Latin and German
6 Latin and Russian

She is currently doing French and Latin and is enjoying them - she'll continue with French regardless. She has some aptitude for languages it is fair to say.

She has no idea of a future career so doesn't know what A levels she'll take. She already has 9/10 subjects (including French) firmed up in her mind for GCSE.

Can anyone offer some wisdom on which choice might be the most sensible in the current academic climate? Thank you.

SecretSquirrel13 Sat 08-Mar-14 15:51:42

I would go for 5 or 6. Russian is the most difficult to learn mostly due to needing to learn the whole 35 character alphabet. German is less difficult to learn but If she goes on to a level or degree level the grammar is more difficult than Russian.

ladymuck Sat 08-Mar-14 16:01:49

Does her school offer both Russian and German at AS and A level? What about Latin?

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 16:09:18

We are currently leaning towards her doing German only as she'll have 10 GCSEs with just that. Not sure if there is any benefit upping the GCSE count from 10 to 11.

You think keeping up with the Latin would be useful SS? She finds it very easy at the moment so perhaps it wouldn't be too much effort for an extra GCSE.

Apparently (according to the school) having the option of doing GCSE Russian is not that usual and so enables DC to stand out from the crowd a bit - I presume they mean at Uni application time.

Suffolkgirl1 Sat 08-Mar-14 16:15:44

Latin is generally a well respected GCSE. If she finds it easy then I would encourage her to continue with it.

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 16:18:33

ladymuck, the school offers all three at A level, so Russian, German and Latin. Not sure about AS level, it looks like just French and German are offered at AS.

motown3000 Sat 08-Mar-14 16:38:23

Op. Is the School a Bog Standard Comprehensive Then ?

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 16:39:14

The students at her school that have studied Russian all really enjoy it. It does look like fun but I'm wondering how useful it would be for the future. Perhaps just studying it (and hopefully doing well) would give her some 'kudos' but is that of any value in itself?

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 16:41:41

mowtown3000, school is Independent rather than Comp. Does that make a difference? I'm not sure how unlikely/likely it is to have Russian offered in either sector.

JeanSeberg Sat 08-Mar-14 16:46:14

I know this isn't the place to be a pedant but there are 33 letters in the Russian alphabet. smile

I'd advise Latin and Russian.

EdithWeston Sat 08-Mar-14 16:46:42

Classical civilisation is a wonderful subject, but if she's keen on languages, then Latin, Russian or German.

Latin: she already knows what she thinks of it, it's th root of so many other languages, it's a well respected academic subject. But, it is just an academic subject as it's a dead language and (apart from some religious use) simply not spoken (a plus point if she's nervous about orals).

German: very important European language, Germany one of UK's most important trading partners and likely to remain so. The language is related to English, making it a bit easier to learn.

Russian: a completely different language with own alphabet. Russia is and will remain an important player internationally.

motown3000 Sat 08-Mar-14 16:56:50

Sorry Pickled. It is just very sad that not many state school children will ever get a chance to study Latin never mind Russian.

Does any State School offer Russian A level....

SecretSquirrel13 Sat 08-Mar-14 17:02:08

Cooking dinner right now so will be back with lengthier explanation later but just wanted to say as Edith said that Latin is the root of a lot of other languages and a good grounding in Latin would help in professions such as medicine law and scientific careers as it is used so much.

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 17:03:39

Thanks for the advice.

Edith, I presume classical civilisation is offered for the non-linguists (I think DD would love it too).

How does one decide between Russian and German then?

I am completely clueless about all this. Ask me about science subjects on the other hand and I could at least offer an informed opinion. My own study of languages is limited to Latin, French and a tiny bit of Romanian, none as far as A level.

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 17:13:39

motown3000, there has been a push on Re: Latin in state schools but Russian has been very much in decline I think and is only offered in the Independent sector now and even then, not to a great extent.

I agree that it's a shame not to offer these subjects to all children, regardless of the sector they are in.

AtAmber Sat 08-Mar-14 17:26:58

My ds is at a state grammar. He is doing Russian gcse.

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 17:32:24

AtAmber, is he enjoying it?

ladymuck Sat 08-Mar-14 17:55:36

At the risk of a HUGE generalisation, when I see Russian on a list of school A level choices, especially in the independent sector, I assume that it is there primarily for the benefit of overseas boarders. Certainly I've seen plenty of such schools with a 100% A-A* in Russian and Chinese but with Cs and D in French, and rather than feeling that I should be wowwed by the language department, I have jumped to that conclusion.

Given such a small population take the subject I wonder whether it is harder to get a higher grade in it, especially if you are being judged against a large number of native speakers? Sadly the advice we seem to be getting is that where possible ds should opt for subjects that he has the best chance of getting a high grade in.

That doesn't really help you at all though, does it? Again I would look at any differences that would make my child more likely to get a top grade in one or the other subject - teachers/class make-up/class size etc.

Bonsoir Sat 08-Mar-14 18:11:45

I would choose German only, all other things being equal and providing the teaching in the German department is as good as any other.

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 18:28:08

Here are the GCSE %A*-B
French 83
German 83
Latin 76
Russian 98
(Spanish 84)

and the A level

French 84
German 82
Latin 84
Russian 95
(Spanish 100)

(I've thrown Spanish in for extra measure - DD has already chosen French over Spanish)

What do you think these results say ladymuck? The Russian results are higher aren't they.

EdithWeston Sat 08-Mar-14 18:32:37

Russian or German? Tchaikovsky or Mahler? Borscht or sauerkraut? Vodka or beer? Caviare or sausages? Zil or BMW?

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 18:32:40

Thanks for popping in Bonsoir smile Do you think that there is not much point in doing Latin then?

In order to do the double language option DD would miss 5 x 1 lesson per week in a range of other subjects which I guess should be factored in to any decision.

Thanks again everyone for your help in thinking this through.

Marmitelover55 Sat 08-Mar-14 18:35:01

My DD goes to a state academy with a languages specialism. In year 7 they study French and Spanish. In year 8 they can either continue with both of these or drop one in favour of Latin, Russian or German. All of these subjects are offered at GCSE plus mandarin, Japanese and Ancient Greek (although I think these last 3 are studied in twilight sessions). All are also offered at A level plus Italian, so I think it is an inaccurate generalisation to say that state schools do not offer these languages.

pickledsiblings Sat 08-Mar-14 18:37:21

Edith gringrin, decisions decisions...

ladymuck Sat 08-Mar-14 18:38:05

Well, in some respects it does depend a bit on the numbers of students taking each subject, as for a small cohort, it could only take one pupil to drop the % heavily. But if the cohort are non native Russian speakers, those stats look good, and would suggest fairly large sets (as to get 95% A*-B at least 1 pupil has done less well, which means a set of at least 20 pupils - which is a fairly high number). On the other hand I would be worried to see 19 A*s from native speakers with a D from a non-native speaker!

But that is my very personal bias. I guess if I see an A* in GCSE in German I think "must be a decent linguist" but when I see an A* in Russian I assume "must be Russian".

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