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French - Year 8(12 Posts)
DS is currently revising for a Yr8 French writing assessment after the Easter holidays. From what I can gather it is basically just memorising a few paragraphs he has put together. He has notes to say including a past and future tense and an opinion (j'adore....!!) get extra marks. Does this sound right to others? Is MFL study really just rote learning like this?
Sorry, posted too soon.
My son is in year 7 learning Spanish and this is exactly his experience. He has a fantastic memory, so aces vocab and written tests, but doesn't do so well on anything that requires understanding because he hasn't had to understand!
Sadly, the current MFL syllabus doesn't really test the ability to use the language, on paper or in speech. DS, no linguist and massively dyslectic in any language managed a grade C in French (thanks to his teacher) but more or less learned it by rote. His oral got an A, but he had spent a reasonable amount of time in France on holiday so could understand and speak it, but not write or read well.
Despite going on holiday to France every May half term for several years listening is his weakest area but this is quite normal according to his French teacher. We will try to work on this next month!!
MFL teacher here.
In year 7 and year 8 we encourage students to memorise quite a lot of vocabulary and set phrases. This is to help them build a good foundation in whatever language they study. The set phrases that they learn can later on be manipulated or developed. Also, it's super helpful to students who find languages difficult.
I have a very weak year 8 group. They too have an assessment right after the holidays. I gave them the questions beforehand. Those who care enough will spend time preparing the answers and maybe even memorising them. Nothing bad about that. In the end, they will have learnt something and will probably even do well in the assessment. This, in turn, will give them a sense of achievement.
It's not all rote learning though. Year 9-11 are a different story.
@OCSockOrphanage I disagree. The NEW gcse is all about testing the ability to use the language. Students are required to answer questions on the spot in the speaking exam rather than just churn out what they memorised. The controlled assessments have been scrapped and students have to produce short pieces of writing under exam conditions. The new GCSE is incredibly demanding but I like it because it allows you to REALLY learn the language!
In view of what you say about the new spec, I would agree with you. This was three years ago, and then GCSE wasn't, IMHO, very much use.
For coping in France, with French people in everyday life, was what I meant. Surely the point of language?
@OCSockOrphanage and this is what I understood my y11 and y10 have just come back from a trip to Spain buzzing about how easy it was to communicate with the locals. And more than anything, they loved the fact that they understood what was being said to them!
My DS is in a lower set for French although he did learn it pre Yr7 too, obviously only basic food, colours, animals type vocab.
I do see that there must be a lot of learning / memorising vocab etc but it's just the learning of whole set paragraphs that seems odd. Anyway at least what he is doing seems to be in line with the norm for yr8.
Thanks for the responses all
Although it might seem like a lot of rote learning now, students in Y7-9 need to build up a “stock” of vocabulary and structures. With time, they will be able to switch things around and it will become more “natural”.
If you think back to first language acquisition it’s quite similar. Children need to endlessly practice and repeat, they go from very simple to more and more sophisticated and larger “chunks” of language that they can manipulate.
If you want to start playing around, you can try to add “interest” by not just saying “I went to Paris. It was nice.” but saying “Last year I went to Paris with my parents. It was nice, but when we saw the Eiffel Tower it rained. That was not great.”
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