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Is Taking two languages to GCSE really too hard?!

(68 Posts)
Desertdweller1 Sun 30-Apr-17 08:49:09

DD (Y8) has to choose French, Spanish or both (though only certain pupils are permitted to do both, including DD) shortly for study in Y9 and ultimately GCSE.

We had always assumed she would do both as she has shown promise in languages and enjoyed them.

However, in advising pupils, the head of languages has said something we find very worrying. He has advised, in general, against pupils taking both as they have found 'dual linguists' at the school (who are usually the best linguists) do worse than those studying one language.

What on earth does this say to you about the languages department??

I did two languages, many people did. What is suddenly so hard about taking two side by side? There is talk of confusion between the two languages.

I am underwhelmed!

MarciaBlaine Sun 30-Apr-17 08:50:19

I did 3! Sounds like nonsense to me.

Darkblueskies Sun 30-Apr-17 08:51:54

Well it's a new gcse now so they don't really know how well single or dual linguists will do. I am a languages teacher and yes, a languages GCSE is very hard. But if she wants to do both then that is fantastic!!

Rioja123 Sun 30-Apr-17 08:57:12

I only was allowed to do one at GCSE but when I got to uni I did Spanish ab initio and did joint honours French and Spanish

YokoReturns Sun 30-Apr-17 09:03:55

I did three! I loved it. Only carried on one at A-level, though.

Toffeelatteplease Sun 30-Apr-17 09:06:25

I is did two plus Latin. French was one of my highest grades.

JasonDerulo Sun 30-Apr-17 09:07:50

I did my GCSEs 2 years ago and did 2 languages, A* in both and I thought it was fine!

happygardening Sun 30-Apr-17 09:11:46

DS2 did two and Latin no problem at all. No confusion between the languages. He got the same grade for all three.,
I do think you've actually got to enjoy speaking and learning a foreign language because a lot of your timetable will be taken up with it but I think DS2 found it a welcome break from all the sciences.

Desertdweller1 Sun 30-Apr-17 09:29:30

Dark blueskies
I think the new GCSE is one of the key issues. They don't know what they're up against and are being cautious. Hence they have changed the system this year with pupils choosing earlier (Y9 not 10) so getting more time to focus on the one language they choose (rather than both).

Thanks all. The fact that in the past they have had 'dual linguists' doing less well than expected doesn't fill me with much confidence in the department's teaching ability, given that these kids are in part selected and should have natural ability!
Would you agree with that?

Darkblueskies Sun 30-Apr-17 09:36:22

I probably wouldn't have expected dual linguists to do as well during the old GCSE because of the amount of time it took learning controlled assessments by memory. That doesn't exist anymore. The new GCSE is very hard, certainly more difficult than when I was at school and I did two languages. I wouldn't say it's a concern with the department's teaching ability, just the concerns with the new and unknown GCSE.

Hoppinggreen Sun 30-Apr-17 09:39:36

Not sure how much GCSEs have changed since I took them but everyone who too Spanish also too French ( but not vice Versa)
We were the top linguists and all scored A's in both.

pombal Sun 30-Apr-17 09:45:27

I would go with one. Once you have one Latin language it's not so hard to pick up others if you need them.
You're DD could take Spanish for example and then if she really feels she needs a second language, just pick it up again as an adult.

I took French to A level but in my adult life had to learn Spanish for work and managed it in about 6 months.

pombal Sun 30-Apr-17 09:46:14

Your not you're

Desertdweller1 Sun 30-Apr-17 09:47:16

And what she and our kids are actually going to take in the future is of more relevance than what things were like however many years ago!

I'm concerned that the new GCSE is harder than what we did many moons ago.
I did O levels. Is it going to be even harder Darkblueskies?

The kids are going to get a nasty shock. There is no rote learning of grammar/verbs/vocabulary anymore, as you know.
How will they have the foundations to take a more rigorous qualification?
Maybe the way languages are now taught will have to change again.

Desertdweller1 Sun 30-Apr-17 09:53:13

Agree Pombal and Rioja.
I only did French and Latin at O level, then Italian at evening classes with my A levels then ab initio Spanish at university. Once you have the grounding it's doable. Latin's useful for that though, but then I'm very old and old fashioned!

I think the likelihood is she will choose just Spanish. Hard choice though as she does well
In both but slightly better in French. Ive said do the language you prefer.
Not sure she has enough enthusiasm or work ethos any more to take on two if Im honest. DH wants her to do both to stop her doing what he calls non subjects like media studies!

floraeasy Sun 30-Apr-17 09:59:14

I did French and German O'Level - got A passes in both. I carried them on and did A levels in both (as well as others of course) and I added an Italian O'Level while I did that.

It was all on an exam in those days. Coursework didn't go towards your mark.

Perfectly possible, I would say.

I don't know a thing about the GCSEs today though.

pombal Sun 30-Apr-17 10:05:49

I honestly think one language to a good level is better than two not so good grades.

It's highly unlikely that DD will need to speak 2 foreign languages in her adult life and if she does she'll have the foundation to pick up another.

ShanghaiDiva Sun 30-Apr-17 10:13:41

Agree that it is doable. I took French and German as o levels as did many of my friends. Ds took German and mandarin - igcse so all exam based and got excellent grades, although IMO standard much lower than o level - no translation, no dictation. Looked at some past GCSE papers when Ds had his exams and for the lower level paper the standard was really low. Dh has very basic German and could correctly guess a lot of the answers.

Ontopofthesunset Sun 30-Apr-17 10:16:46

Trying not to sound too trite, languages aren't difficult if you're good at them. If you're good at languages, 2 GCSEs is a doddle - much easier than adding Geography or History. I don't know the new GCSE specification but it will probably still not be particularly hard for linguists. Some people find maths intutitively easy, some people find writing creatively much easier than others and some people find learning languages easy. I would always encourage a good natural linguist to take two languages at GCSE - but then I have an MFL degree so am biased.

katronfon Sun 30-Apr-17 10:17:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nancy75 Sun 30-Apr-17 10:20:21

I did French, Spanish & Italian, got A for each at GCSE, I had more exams than people doing other subjects but it was fine

flibberdy Sun 30-Apr-17 10:21:15

I did French and German and found it easy because I enjoyed them both. If she wants to then she should!

OhTheRoses Sun 30-Apr-17 10:21:17


DS, French, Latin, Mandarin all A*
DD, French, Spanish, Latin all A*

Think all languages were IGCE.
DH refused to consider any school that did not offer Latin. Took out most state schools where we lived.

Naty1 Sun 30-Apr-17 10:26:16

Take the subject she is good at. Media isnt going to be easier for everyone.
I took gcses in 95 and got As in latin and french.
I took gcse spanish in about 2007 and got an A*. And alevel 2 yrs later getting an A. The exams were significantly easier than back in 1995 as i managed to do well on only like 2hrs of evening classes compared to 6hrs a week at school. (While working full time too). So the difficulty does vary a lot.
I took science alevels and think i should have gone with what i was better at. The difference between gcse and alevel has been so large it was hard to know what alevels to take as you get the same grade in all of them.
Its easy enough to practise the grammar yourself using the fill in the gaps grammar books.
For the Alevel i pretty much just learnt the aqa books vocab etc.

AndNoneForGretchenWieners Sun 30-Apr-17 10:28:43

I did 3 languages for both GCSE and A Level. I found they complemented each other. I did French, German and Latin.

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