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Y7 German. Any teachers out there who could give me an idea of howis it's taught & what's the expectation in the first term.

(19 Posts)
BogeyNights Thu 06-Nov-14 16:37:24

Exactly that really. Is the lesson mostly conversational rather than written? How do you teach the kids new words & sentence construction?
My DC has completed one half term & still seems to have no idea about the language. I've asked him and he says that the class is too chatty & they never get much done. �� He gets vocabulary to learn irregularly & that's about all in the homework department. He has six 1 hour lessons over his two week timetable. Which is the same as maths and English.
I'm not expecting him to converse with Sebastian Vettel, but maybe just an understanding of "wie gehts dir es?"

enderwoman Thu 06-Nov-14 16:57:46

Conversational and written here.
Before half term they had a spelling test on colours - rot, gelb etc This week they had a vocabulary test on contents of their school bag - pen, rubber etc
Dd knows how to reply to questions about her name/age/where she lives

AmberTheCat Thu 06-Nov-14 17:50:10

My Y7 dd is also doing German for the first time this term. They seem to have been doing basic conversation (she asked me to test her last night on phrases like 'How old are you?', 'Do you have any siblings?', 'Where are you from?' - although apparently she only had to know how to ask the questions, not answer them hmmsmile). They've also done numbers, days of the week, months of the year, etc.

FiveHoursSleep Thu 06-Nov-14 18:16:50

My DD is in Y7 and has been learning for half a term with no prior experience. She knows the same sort of things Enderwoman's DD does. She does seem a bit dazed and confused by it though!

Leeds2 Thu 06-Nov-14 19:23:34

When DD was in Y7, she had vocal tests every week. From memory, it was things like colours, numbers, days of the week, months of the year etc.

BertieBotts Thu 06-Nov-14 19:32:54

I would not expect much functional language from secondary school languages, sadly. I studied German for two years but had to start from scratch when I moved here at 25 because I knew nothing, I couldn't even remember all of the colours. And despite having learned French for 5 years (up to GCSE) and getting a B, I couldn't have a basic conversation in French either - I remember going on a French exchange and I could stiltedly point and put about two or three words together, and like Enderwoman says, speak in a very basic way in set, rigid situations. My German is now better than my French ever was just from playing around on a free app called Duolingo and general low level osmosis (I speak English at work).

I'm a language teacher now and I'm quite confused and shock that the level seemed so poor but I suppose it was the fact we weren't using the language outside of class.

Try Duolingo - it's a very good thing to use alongside lessons, will help him I reckon.

MilkRunningOutAgain Thu 06-Nov-14 20:14:48

My DS has just started German in yr 7 and has learnt numbers, colours, European country names, names of lots of typical things found in the classroom, months, days of the weeks, names of school subjects, and a few sentences by rote such as what is your name and reply, how old are you plus reply, where do you live plus reply. He is really enjoying it. He says there is much more spoken work than written.

ChillySundays Thu 06-Nov-14 20:43:36

My son has just passed GCSE and I am amazed at how little he knows.

BertieBotts Thu 06-Nov-14 20:59:41

If you look at the European Languages Framework, you end up with probably an A2 level at GCSE. I think it should be more like B1, I don't really understand how five years' teaching results in so little.

CEF in plan English is basically:

A1 - beginner but knows a few stock phrases or basic vocab. Somewhere between A1 and A2 is what English people tend to think of as "I speak a little French!"
A2 - can't have a free conversation, really, but can do some functional stuff like order in a restaurant, ask for directions, talk about their family/job/hobby. Absolutely still translating mentally unless it's in their "stock memorised phrases" list. Still need to speak slowly. This is about the level most non-English speakers retain from school.
B1 - can have a very basic conversation but it's stilted and has a lot of grammatical oddities, needs to look for words or uses a limited vocabulary. (This is what speakers of other languages tend to think of as "I speak a little English" and totally surprise a native English speaker because they come across as amazingly proficient to us!) Still translating a lot of stuff mentally.
B2 - Appears fluent, does not usually need to stop and translate unless the sentence structure is unusual but speaking is still tiring and they still need to stop and think about what they are saying. Basically "I can speak XXXX quite well". This is the level where specialist vocabulary is able to be introduced e.g. engineering, medical, etc.
C1 - Fluency/roughly native speaker level.
C2 - Higher than most native speakers - university level.

BertieBotts Thu 06-Nov-14 21:02:27

Actually I would say that the non English speaking countries tend to retain somewhere between an A2-B1 level from school, whereas we tend to be lucky if we retain an A1 level from school years later. They do start English earlier, but not that much earlier as a rule. I had a student last year studying English at the equivalent of A-Level and she was easily B2, she was studying a text that I myself studied for GCSE blush Bizarre how different the language learning is.

skylark2 Fri 07-Nov-14 08:07:45

I was having a discussion about this on an international amateur writing forum a few weeks back. It really is a case of what's expected. The Dutch student writer (just started uni) said they were all expected to read the same sort of English books at school that kids here do for English GCSE. And the same in French and German, if they were studying them.

He isn't studying English, but I hadn't realised he wasn't English first language until he mentioned it.

I agree that GCSE is basically learning set phrases. DS is in year 11 doing German. Just about all their writing and speaking tasks are given to them beforehand and answers can be pre learned. He finds this incredibly tedious and pointless and doesn't want to do languages at A level, though he used to love them sad

Renniehorta Fri 07-Nov-14 08:32:49

The current GCSE specification, with its controlled assessments, is designed to get as many candidates as possible a C or higher. What is it is not designed to do is to teach the language so it is retained and is actually useful.

The lists of vocab and parrot learned phrases are very low level tasks. Year 7 is far too late to be working at that level. It is no wonder students turn off and misbehave. It is just babyish and belongs at primary school.

You cannot use a second language effectively unless you have control over what you say. That is that you understand how it works and you can construct for yourself what you want to say. This is why students can gain top grades at GCSE and not have the confidence/ knowledge to use the language outside the classroom. The current specification leads to rote learning of scripts for speaking and writing. That is what many, obviously not all, schools rely on to get their students the precious C or above.

This is obviously a very short sighted policy. If you work in an 11- 16 school you have no interest beyond that GCSE grade.

It is little wonder that when my son studied an MFL degree, at a Russell Group Uni, 80% of his fellow students were from grammar/ fee-paying schools.

LooseAtTheSeams Fri 07-Nov-14 09:19:38

Renniehorta is right. But we also have weird expectations of what children can learn on basically 2 hours of language classes a week and no engagement with the language outside school. You have to keep speaking it to be able to converse properly. It isn't just here - a Spanish teacher told me that he learned English at school for 5 years, then came over here and realised he couldn't really speak English at all.
Don't despair after one half term, though! If you really want to boost German conversational skills, and bear in mind German grammar is more complicated than English, you'll have to find a native speaker for your son to talk to outside of school. But Duolingo is really good for practice outside school and will build up confidence.

GregorSamsa Fri 07-Nov-14 09:36:27

I do think it's about expectations, but also about the amount of lesson time allocated and about general cultural immersion. The prevalence of English globally does mean that speakers of other langauges are exposed to English in a way that is hard to replicate for English speakers learning other languages.

I think there is also a difference across individual languages in how easy it is to achieve communicative competence. The low level of inflection in English means that it is easier to get to the point of being able to ask and answer basic questions than it is in a more heavily-inflected langauge like German or russian where even a short simple sentence requires quite complex recall of conjugations, declensions and agreements.

But yes, basically the level of language teaching in this country sucks, despite some very good individual teachers, because the cultural and educational expectations are low, and the syllabus is geared at teaching children to pass a GCSE which is only very tenuously related to their ability to use actually use the language they are learning.

FiveHoursSleep Fri 07-Nov-14 09:46:12

I did German for three years in secondary school back home in NZ. I wasn't enthusiastic because when was I ever going to use it?
Now, living in the UK, we've travelled through Germany quite a bit and I can decipher menus and signs, and DD2 is learning it at school, so I've started using Duolingo to keep up with her.
I'm trying to get her to use it as well ( DD1 is using it for Spanish and French) but it seems to start with completely different things than they do at school and she doesn't like it!

LooseAtTheSeams Fri 07-Nov-14 09:59:04

To be honest, it was the same problem with O level. When I was at school in the dark ages, students did acquire some advanced skills at A level and the set texts were classics, but even then my friends doing French and German felt their actual ability to hold an extended discussion was limited. There was much more emphasis on writing and learning vocab than speaking. MFL degrees tended to insist on a year abroad at a foreign university as part of the degree for language immersion for good reason!

BogeyNights Fri 07-Nov-14 15:26:55

Thank you all for your comments. Sadly, the conclusion seems that I am expecting too much. Whereas the curriculum is not expecting much. Shame. But thank you for the Duolingo app idea. I've downloaded it for both me & my son.

clary Fri 07-Nov-14 22:23:59

Our first term of MFL is aiming to get the students talking and familiar with a range of simple questions.

So by December they should be able to ask and answer qus such as name, age, birthday, sports they like, pets, brothers and sisters etc.

This is both in spoken and written German (and French). I give regular vocab tests and written HW to revise too.

I teach it in a range of ways - presentations, match up activities, dictionary work where they have to find the words, me speaking German and the students working out what I am on about! and we play lots of games to practise speaking and understanding.

Don't get bogged down in grammar at all at this stage eg accusative etc, just tell them it's Ich habe einen Hund and Ich habe eine Katze/ein Pferd.

We have 3 x 50 min lessons a week btw.

hellyhants Sun 16-Nov-14 16:29:11

I did GCSE German (first year of it in 1988) and carried onto A level. That's when I made real progress and within a few months could understand German TV etc and ultimately I did a German degree as well. So see GCSE as a means to an end - it's definitely worth carrying onto A level if there is an aptitude. I've also got Italian GCSE - done in 2001 at night school. I think languages are really important and it's such a shame that GCSE is so awful.

My son is also in Y7 and learning Spanish (he did it at primary school as well). He has 3 lessons a week - 45 minutes each. It's his favourite subject at the moment.

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