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French or German for GCSE?

(51 Posts)
Sinkingfeeling Wed 25-Jan-17 00:47:33

DD1 (Y9) has to choose her GCSE subjects within the next few weeks. All three sciences are compulsory at her school so she realistically has only two or three options. She'd like to do History and Fine Art but is torn between French and German. Her grades for both are similar (slightly higher in French which she has been learning for a year longer than German), and she likes both equally. If she chooses German she's likely to be in a fairly small class but my degree was in French and another subject so I could give her more help with French. Any thoughts on which to choose?

Sweepingchange Wed 25-Jan-17 00:50:28

Tricky; they are both good choices. With that in mind, I think I would go with the best teacher.

tobecontinued2000 Wed 25-Jan-17 01:03:55

I would go with French, its the easier of the two to learn.

nothruroad Wed 25-Jan-17 01:06:17

I teach both and think that French is much easier grammatically. Also if she does French it will be much easier to pick up Spanish or Italian in the future.

ShanghaiDiva Wed 25-Jan-17 01:16:45

Agree French grammar is easier.

Vietnammark Wed 25-Jan-17 06:34:43

According to The British Council it is more important to learn French than German:

www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/languages-for-the-future-report.pdf

SallyInSweden Wed 25-Jan-17 07:11:36

God that makes grim reading. 30% of 15 year olds had no measureable level of attainment in the language they were studying.

If she is in any way science minded, I would be inclined to German though.

user1483387154 Wed 25-Jan-17 07:14:36

I would go with German

Badbadbunny Wed 25-Jan-17 08:05:25

My son had this quandary. He was equally good at both. He eventually made his choice based on the likelihood of the teachers he'd get - he liked both the German teachers, but there were a couple of French teachers he didn't like, so he made his choice. He's now in year 10 and happy with his choice - many of his form-mates who took French have got one of the "not so popular" teachers and he says they're constantly complaining!

NotCitrus Wed 25-Jan-17 08:14:47

Kids in German class tend to be more motivated. If she's considering A-level, then German is easier as there aren't the dozen extra tenses to learn that French A-level has.

Which is more useful is pure luck - German is more unusual which can be helpful, great for board games and some sciences, but risk of teacher leaving and being harder to replace.

So whichever she wants.

bojorojo Wed 25-Jan-17 12:43:01

There are huge opportunities with French engineering companies so I do not buy that people inbusiness should opt for German. French is very useful and is more widely spoken than German in a number of NGOs. Also GCSE will not lead to any real competence in either language - as you know OP!

Shame she cannot take both. Schools are so useless at having a good curriculum for linguists. My DD did French and Italian, Was better at Italian and started that in Y8, so one year less to learn it than French.Did a joint honours in both languages.

German degrees are very short of applicants/students - therefore lower offers!!! If she wants to go to degree level that may be a consideration. Why do schools offer so many GCSE choices but only one language? Uselss really! Makes me cross!

Bensyster Wed 25-Jan-17 14:15:45

My dcs made their choice based on the amount of time they were likely to spend in France as opposed to Germany....and they liked the way the French language sounds.
I don't think a GCSE in a language matters much, unless you are going to take it further. Might have to slip on a tin hat for that comment! grin

myfavouritecolourispurple Wed 25-Jan-17 14:48:00

Do the one she like more and possibly the country she'd like to visit more.

And French is definitely not easier than German, it depends totally on how your brain works. I find German easier. Others find French much easier.

I agree it's a shame she can't do both.

myfavouritecolourispurple Wed 25-Jan-17 14:48:47

Why do schools offer so many GCSE choices but only one language? Uselss really! Makes me cross!

Me too - same at ds' school. They say you can do two GCSE languages - but only teach one years 7 to 9 and say it's too hard to pick up one in year 10, so effectively you can only do one.

bojorojo Wed 25-Jan-17 18:16:35

Bensyster. Given that fewer and fewer children take GCSE MFL, taking French, German or any other MFL says a lot about the pupil. So many children view them as a harder subject and will not put the work in to achieve the highest grades. Maths gets way more A*s at A level than MFLs do and yet lots of people think Maths is hard. However, we are a complacent and lazy country with regards to MFL and the result is ............. (now for my Tin Hat!)

Needmoresleep Wed 25-Jan-17 18:33:21

As others have said, German tends to get the brighter, more motivated students, and often smaller classes. At DDs school the cool kids all opted for Spanish whilst others decided French would be easier. (Not necessarily - logical brains seem to enjoy German.)

I was working full time and the great thing about German for us were the Geothe Institut summer courses. Three week long residential summer camps which the kids loved and where their German improved dramatically.

I also think there is a benefit in knowing more about the economic and political powerhouse of Europe, and learning the language gives you insights and understanding you don't get otherwise.

I speak French, German and Spanish, and French is the language I have found the most use for. The French seem to like you speaking their language. The Germans usually insist on speaking English.

Bensyster Wed 25-Jan-17 18:34:16

Interestingly bojo - my friend's ds finds MFL a breeze - he sees it as an easy subject...not everyone finds them hard.
Some may applaud you taking a MFL but I doubt they care which one - your ability to speak following a GCSE will be fairly limited, unless you take it further.

Leeds2 Wed 25-Jan-17 18:36:44

I did both French and German at O Level (yes!) and A Level. I much preferred German, but thought French was much easier. Interesting that others have the same feeling but in reverse!

Does DD feel that, instinctively, one is easier for her than the other? Is she more likely to frequently visit places where one of the languages is spoken?

I suspect the German class will be smaller, if that is important to her. To check this, look on the school's website and see how many took GCSE French and how many GCSE German for the past two or three years. Maybe useful to see what grades the students got too.

Needmoresleep Wed 25-Jan-17 18:53:05

"we are a complacent and lazy country with regards to MFL "

ehhh???

I suspect up to 50% of DCs friends are bilingual, with parents from all sorts of places. The downside then is if you need an engineer who speaks Brazilian, Bulgarian etc, you can probably find a Brit who is near fluent. So for a mono-linguist, learning a second language tends not to bring noticeable financial rewards. Which does not mean it is not worthwhile for other reasons, but I would not term it "lazy" not to do so.

DD is very dyslexic, and so she opted for a couple of languages at GCSE, and we deliberately supported her by giving her as much exposure as possible. The SEN department seemed to be surprised that she had opted for two, as dyslexics apparently normally struggle. I recently met an academic specialising in language acquisition who confirmed I was right. Dyslexics often learn better by hearing, and can often pick up languages quickly. The problem is with the way British kids learn and are tested. DD seems to have retained a lot more of her French and German than her peers. I am sure her written language is pretty awful but she is happy to converse. So easy probably relates to both aptitude and how teaching style matches that aptitude.

roguedad Wed 25-Jan-17 19:06:34

DS went for German and Chinese in 3rd year. Will probably try for both through to GCSE.

By the way, that British council report makes it clear that what language you prioritise depends on what you think is important. There are several different metrics you can apply.

Sinkingfeeling Wed 25-Jan-17 22:33:43

Thank you so much everyone - some very helpful comments and some things I hadn't considered. DD1 could choose both French and German if she wanted, but History and Fine Art are both subjects she is good at, and might want to take at A level. If double science, rather than triple, was compulsory at her school she would probably take both languages. She won't know who her teachers will be until Year 10. I am ancient and did French and Latin at O level and took French through to degree level - I have a reasonable level of competency in French having spent my year abroad in France, and we also go on holiday there fairly frequently. Interestingly, DD finds German a bit easier than French and mutters to herself in German around the house a lot confused. She does have a very good German teacher currently and her class size is smaller than her French class. I have shown her your comments and she's read them with great interest but is no closer to a decision - her choices need to be in around the 3rd week of Feb.

clary Thu 26-Jan-17 00:08:50

Wow lucky her to have the choice! So many schools only offer one language (or one per student IYSWIM).

I teach both and love both. There's not much to choose in that the new (much better) courses are v similar.

Do you know anything about the teachers? I know it's not a reason to choose a subject but my DD hates her French teacher and it was always going to be him teaching her. She had no other realistic option for a language but since your DD does it might be worth finding out (subtly tho!) who would be teaching (tho there may be several possible teachers of course. At my school all MFL teachers teach both French and German and we tend to swap about eg this year I have yr 11 Fr and yr 10 Ger.)

Bojorojo Why do schools offer so many GCSE choices but only one language? because there is no timetable time available. We have to try to teach the basics of a subject never studied before in 2 hrs a week; if we had to teach 2 in one hour a week each it would be impossible. sad

I would say she needs to choose the one she prefers and feels more comfortable with. I found French easier an was better at it but liked German and opted for it as a degree <awkward>. My A-level class for German was 4 people, as opposed to French class of about 20.

For GCSE - weeell my yr 10 German is 20, my year 11 French 17, so I don't know that class size will vary that much. But again, ask the school.

BackforGood Thu 26-Jan-17 20:42:20

Keep in mind that it might be a different teacher next year!
My dds both find German easier as it is more logical, and 'follows the rules' (both have quite scientific / mathematical brains).
The fact you spend time in France, and could shat around the house in French must surely be a bonus though.

bojorojo Thu 26-Jan-17 22:34:58

The numbers of students taking MFL at GCSE and A level is in decline. Some universities are struggling for students. That is fsct and not anecdotal. MN is full of people saying drop MFL for GCSE because the ebacc is for schools not for pupils.

London children are much more likely to be bi lingual but this is not the case all over the UK and is not replicated in university applications.

Some schools do teach two languages so it must be possible. My local grammar does so not sure how they get more time? They obviously allocate more than one hour a week.

Sinkingfeeling Thu 26-Jan-17 23:11:38

Yes, clary, I know she is extremely lucky to have the choice. All the students at her school take French in Y7, and then half take Spanish in Y8 and the other half German (they don't get to choose which). She's good at both and enjoys both, which makes the choice hard. We definitely won't base it on the strength of her teacher because we won't know who her teacher will be until the start of Y10. There are two German teachers (who also teach French) and four Spanish teachers (who also teach French). Hers is the first year to be offered German at GCSE for a few years, so there aren't any recent results to look at.

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