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Languages stupid question.

(39 Posts)
gillybeanz Mon 17-Apr-17 19:34:17

Right I know that subjects like French German and Spanish can be taught at KS3 and in some cases even KS2.

However, could a child around Y8/9 pick up a GCSE with no prior knowledge. Obviously, I know they'd have to work and study, goes without saying.

If it was a language they hadn't studied earlier like Russian, Welsh, Italian.

DoctorDonnaNoble Mon 17-Apr-17 19:35:05

Short answer: yes, it's possible.

sniffle12 Mon 17-Apr-17 19:42:06

Definitely, especially if they had already studied another language and had the aptitude.

A lot of KS3 language teaching moves incredibly slowly, in the worst cases all they do for 3 years is put together pre-fab blocks of language (e.g. j'aime... parce que c'est...) given to them by the teacher and don't even learn grammatical concepts such as verb conjugation (source: former languages teacher). Someone with the aptitude who was able to pick up grammatical concepts quite easily and had basic dictionary skills to start looking up and using language for themselves would be able to catch up very easily.

gillybeanz Mon 17-Apr-17 19:44:53

Sorry, but does that mean that no prior knowledge is required and the GCSE syllabus will teach from the beginning.

I have a dd who wants to study lots of languages.
She knows she won't take a GCSE in them all and some are to just learn some basic words and their meaning, but she has said she'd like to take one or two to GCSE level.
There is even Icelandic on her list. She plans to start and continue during the summer holidays, about 10 weeks.

gillybeanz Mon 17-Apr-17 19:46:02

cross post, there ignore me I'm an idiot.

karalime Mon 17-Apr-17 19:53:19

The standards in language GCSEs are so low that logically there is no reason someone could not start from scratch in Year 9. Someone with a few weeks on Duolingo could pass a GCSE with flying colours.

Whether the school will allow it is another thing. Also, if she wants to do languages at university for example it's not always necessary to have a GCSE in the language.

For example I know people who studied Japanese/Korean/Welsh/Norwegian at uni and they just had 1-2 A Levels in the usual European languages. I did Spanish as part of my degree for a while and all I had was GCSE French!

sniffle12 Mon 17-Apr-17 19:56:54

TBH, being familiar with the level of enthusiasm for languages in your average British year nine (i.e. none - I'm talking each lesson goes in one ear and straight out the other with very little retention or progress), I'd say if your DD studied the relevant language in Duolingo for a few months before starting GCSE, she'd be at a better level of vocabulary and knowledge than most of them already. But if she's at school, I suppose it's down to the school to deem whether she can join at that stage.

Curiosity and enthusiasm are the most important things - if she's the type of person who responds to not knowing something by looking it up in the dictionary and finding out how to say it, that self-sufficiency will take her far.

I am British born, no languages in my family or anything, and speak French, German, Spanish and Swedish and am learning Russian, purely out of a lifelong curiosity! So if she has the bug, definitely let her run with it. There are so many wonderful free apps and resources now to support language learning.

gillybeanz Mon 17-Apr-17 20:53:04

Aw thanks for the lovely encouragement.
It's early days yet but she knows she is going to have to get by with quite a lot of languages, mostly just being able to pronounce some words and understand their meaning.
But some she has more of an interest in and would like a couple of GCSE's as she'll struggle with a lot of other subjects at school.
I'm not sure if school would let her take them there, I was going to ask as she progresses.
Her school emailed them all Duo Lingo and she uses it whenever she can, doesn't get much free time at school so has the odd weekend and holidays atm.

GinSwigmore Mon 17-Apr-17 20:59:11

I did a third language (Russian) in only two years. Got a B. The grade boundaries for lower iirc because the language/alphabet was deemed to be harder. Not sure whether that is the case now.

GinSwigmore Mon 17-Apr-17 21:00:05

for Russian, Urdu, Chinese, Greek

Eastpoint Mon 17-Apr-17 21:03:30

Dd started French in yr9 & got an A*. Other friends of hers started Spanish, Italian, Chinese, German & Russian. Ancient Greek was another option. She had been learning German & Latin from Yr7 but dropped Latin at the end of yr9. Back in the 1980s we did an O level language in a year if we wanted in Yr 12.

KarmaNoMore Mon 17-Apr-17 21:07:29

Some universities do not require a GCSE or A level in the language to study certain languages but this may change in the furñture when teaching those languages at GCSE an A level courses become more widespread.

DS's school do not allow children to do GCSEs in a language they have not studied before, but I think that they would do if you fight for a place. At the end of the day, if the teacher is not that good there is not much a kid can miss.

Rayna37 Mon 17-Apr-17 21:09:37

I began secondary school in 1991, we all started French in yr 7, then Russian in yr 8 (not sure if everyone or if this excluded the bottom set). It was totally acceptable then for us to do Russian at GCSE, it wasn't treated any differently to French we'd all started the year earlier. Good luck to her. GCSE standards for languages really not that high if I recall but big leap up to A level.

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 17-Apr-17 21:19:33

My dd was home educated until she went to school for y9 - she had done Spanish at home and had to do French and Spanish at school. She had thought she'd just get through a year of French then drop it and do Spanish for GCSE, but she ended up doing both for GCSE, then both for A level, and is now doing an MFL degree in French, Spanish and ab initio German. And is planning on doing some Italian in her second year grin So yes, in imo and experience it's possible.

Ds and dd3 are both doing GCSE in the MFL they started second at school as well. Not quite the same, but still the one with less time.

isittheholidaysyet Mon 17-Apr-17 21:54:22

At school, (so 20 years ago!) I started German GCSE in year 10, got a C at the end of year 11

clary Tue 18-Apr-17 00:17:34

Op it sounds like she has lots of enthusiasm so good luck to her smile

Be aware tho that MFL GCSEs are a lot more difficult now - higher expectation of grammar for current yr 10 an onwards. Sure your dd will be able to pick it up but just to correct some views on here

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 18-Apr-17 08:38:47

Yes Ds's school offer German, French and Spanish (and Latin) as standard.

Then as an extra curricular they offer Greek, Italian, Mandarin and Japanese. These are covered in a 2 year period in year 9 and 10.

Ceto Tue 18-Apr-17 08:45:17

I did German for GCSEs in two years, at a time when grammar requirements were high, and in fact went on to do it for A Level. I do think your daughter will need to do the extra language at school, or through formal lessons elsewhere, however, rather than trying to pick it up for herself.

exexpat Tue 18-Apr-17 09:04:56

Very possible.

I did Russian O-level from scratch in a year (respectable B-grade, many years ago); my nephew more recently did Italian A-level from scratch in two years and got an A.

There are so many good language learning apps/books/programs/videos etc that it is easier than ever to teach yourself a language. DD, 14, is currently teaching herself Norwegian using duolingo and an online Norwegian high-school drama.

If she's learning outside school, she might want to look at qualifications other than GCSEs - they vary according to language, but there are things like the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, with five levels, and I think there is something similar for French and other languages. You take tests at centres other than schools, and the content is often more geared to real life and usage than the GCSE syllabus.

I have to say, though, that the best and fastest way of learning a language is to go and spend some time immersed in a place where they speak it (and avoid native speakers of your own language).

mumsneedwine Tue 18-Apr-17 09:18:06

Just a word of caution. The new language GCSES are nothing like the old ones. They are hard - v like my O level was. No memorising, need to actually be able to hold a conversation and do dictation and translation. So no slow teaching anymore !

TeenAndTween Tue 18-Apr-17 10:25:23

I came on to say my DD did Spanish GCSE in 2 years. But I am delighted to read mumsneedwine's comment about the newer GCSE, and wonder whether ab initio in 2 years would now be practical.

Abetes Tue 18-Apr-17 11:23:36

I did O levels back in the day. Started Spanish in the equivalent of year 9 and got an A - no A stars back then. So definitely possible even if GCSEs are getting harder.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 18-Apr-17 14:03:07

As mumsneedwine says the new GCSEs are hard yes historically in the less common languages like mandarin and Japanese there used to be less vocab and lower grade boundaries. This has changed DD has been doing Mandarin since year 1 and is now in year 8 and will do it for GCSE even with 8 years behind her and 3 more to go covering the vocab in the characters is hard going. The dictation they have to do both English to Mandarin and Mandarin to English, they have an hour a fortnight dedicated to this alone.

LooseAtTheSeams Wed 19-Apr-17 11:29:44

I think it's definitely doable - you need a tutor and regular sessions for gcse.
My DS decided to learn Japanese outside school with a tutor rather than French at school, even though this would have been the easier option! He may be able to complete this in the 2 years (his tutor is very positive) although I would settle for him taking gcse in year 12 if he needs more time! In some ways it's about the final grade as it is about him showing he had the motivation to study something in his spare time.

bojorojo Wed 19-Apr-17 20:07:38

It is not always about the final grade because some universities expect all GCSE exams to be taken at the same time. Not picked off one by one.

Moving on, lots of universities do require students to have studied French or Spanish at A level to access MFL degrees which include those languages but offer ab initio in lots more. If you can two several languages at GCSE then that prepares you for A Level and degree study beyond that. My DD found learning with native speaker teachers of great benefit because the conversation, vocabulary and literature was greatly extended. She would have hated to have learnt on her own!

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