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GCSE options - any advice on extracurricular MFL?

(9 Posts)
LooseAtTheSeams Thu 10-Dec-15 09:38:06

DS year 9 chooses options this year - in theory there are four apart from the compulsory ones but two options are meant to be a humanity and a MFL. He is keen to take history but wants to drop French, his only MFL. He is interested in learning Japanese (not offered st school). My question is, would it be feasible to learn Japanese from scratch in 2 years to GCSE with a tutor and if so how many hours a week?
He is good at French, just doesn't want to carry on with it. School are likely to talk about ebacc so this might appease them and I was just interested to know if anyone else had experience of learning languages outside school?

TeenAndTween Thu 10-Dec-15 12:15:33

No direct help but some comments.

1) DD had 5 teaching hours per fortnight for her MFL GCSEs, one of which she took up from scratch in y10. Then of course there was homework etc. So you might be adding 4? hours a week to work load.

2) Presumably he wouldn't have 'frees' instead of French so would be picking a different option. You would in effect be adding an extra GCSE to his workload (with knock on impact to final exams time).

3) If studying externally, who would you expect to organise entering for GCSE, mark any coursework etc?

Why doesn't he want to carry on with French?

bojorojo Thu 10-Dec-15 12:33:35

Why on earth not just continue with French to make life easy for himself ? Japanese is pretty difficult. Doing a GCSE in 2 years is obviously possible but a lot of work. My DD's old school offers it but only for people already doing Spanish or French at GCSE, not instead of those languages. What happens if he does not like Japanese after a year? I would just not encourage this. He will get much better help and support at school to achieve a decent result at French. Also, good linguists don't drop languages. They do more than one, so what makes him think Japanese is easier or better? Seems odd to me. I tend to think sometimes childrren may just have to do something they don't want to do.

LooseAtTheSeams Thu 10-Dec-15 15:18:04

Thanks for the advice, that actually helps a lot. If he was up to the required standard, the school would arrange the exam itself as it is a community language and other pupils would be able to sit the exam. Yes, he would be replacing the French hours with another subject so it would be on top of that. He's interested in Japanese anime and manga and in Japanese history and art, hence the interest in that language. However, I'm really not convinced he would put in the extra effort involved over two years so that does make it easier to decide!

Ladymuck Thu 10-Dec-15 15:24:11

Ebacc is a measure for the school not the pupil, and I'd be surprised if they were allowed to use the results of a GCSE that they haven't taught at all. You may therefore find that the school will still require him to take French.

LooseAtTheSeams Thu 10-Dec-15 16:45:36

Just to clarify, they won't require him to take French. Like many schools they put the MFL and the humanity subjects down as 'options' but advise bright kids to take the ebacc pathway. That leaves him with two genuine options and being contrary he has three that he likes a lot more than French and in which he is predicted to do very well. They are all possible A level options, whereas he definitely won't continue with French post-16. Personally, I think not doing ebacc is a risk if things change in the future and, although he has wanted to learn Japanese for a long time, even with 1:1 tuition, the actual workload is probably too much. However, I am still interested to know if anyone has tried it!

cakeisalwaystheanswer Thu 10-Dec-15 17:40:20

No idea about Japanese specifically, but at DS's school they sit French early and then do a challenge language GCSE in a year with about 2 hours of lessons a week. Either Russian, German or Italian I think. There is quite a bit of homework and they have to learn 40 words of vocab a week. They all pass, most with A*s, but the school won't let them sit the IGCSE because its much harder for languages being all final exams and no controlled assessments etc.

I love your sons enthusiasm and it is a dilemma not wanting to discourage him and at the same time trying not to put too much pressure on him. But if he was my DS (unlikely as he is bloody lazy) I would let him give it a go, if it gets too much he can stop or not take the exam and just do it for fun. Learning a language is a life skill and never wasted even if you don't get a certificate at the end of it. Far better use of his time than the hours mine wastes looking at instagram etc.

LooseAtTheSeams Thu 10-Dec-15 17:54:32

Ha! Yes if it replaced the dreaded computer games I'd be so happy. smile Interesting approach about taking French a year early and then doing another language - and I'm impressed with them doing Russian in a year!
I would definitely be OK with DS trying a language and also with him taking an extra year to get it i.e. taking it in lower sixth. It might not count for school stats but he would have the benefit. So, we'll see. Thanks for the info!

bojorojo Thu 10-Dec-15 20:47:13

Japanese GCSE definitely won't be a life skill! It is pretty basic. As he is not doing French I think ab initio Japanese at university will be out of the question.

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