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Languages at secondary level(24 Posts)
Are languages from year 7 part of the National curriculum? If so does it specify which language or a specific number of languages?
Asking as we’re overseas and want to know if year 7 is comparable to UK......
I suspect this will depend on the school.
State schools will generally offer 1 language from Year 7 (some do offer more) but there's no prescribed language (DC's school offers choice of French or Spanish; another local school offers French or German).
That said, children needing additional support at DC's school don't study a language at all. (Additional support seems to cover a wide range of types of support as well!)
At a private school you are more likely to be studying 2 or 3 languages, likely with Latin thrown in as well. (though that said, I was interested to note that my private educated niece might have learnt 3 languages in year 7, but the total time spent on language teaching was the same as on the 1 language for my DC in a state school).
It used to be compulsory for most children (with the exception of children needing additional support with English) to study an additional language during secondary education. There was never any statutory requirement for it to be any one specific language. French was traditional and the one most teachers had themselves learnt at school, but many schools offered Spanish and German in addition. In some cases children were made to rotate between languages
to ensure they didn't learn any very well
The foreign language requirement was dropped for several years. I wonder whether it has come back in with the new GCSEs though?
Really varies from school to school. Most schools I know of offer French but often large year groups are split in two and half might learn French and the other half Spanish. There is often little choice as to which half you are in unless you are fluent in French then you might be put in Spanish half. Some schools offer more languages but often more academic schools.
The secondary DD will go to has compulsory 2 languages from years 7 to 9. All do French and then they are randomly allocated German or Spanish. They then are expected to take one through to GCSE, although not compulsory.
Bog standard comp.
A language counts towards the EBacc which rates schools which is maybe why they tend to only offer one now, in the hope that the students will be really proficient in that one language. I think it is UCL which asks either for a language GCSE or enrolment in a MFL course but for most universities it is not a requirement so for the child there is no requirement to do well in languages.
There is of course the international baccalaureate which means some schools require a language is taken up to age 18.
It will depend on whether the school is doing the EBaac route-if so then yes, a language is compulsory barring additional needs. In DS’s school this is only French from Yr7 but those they judge good at language are introduced to German in Yr8-they then choose between the two for their GCSEs but no one can opt out.
My daughter goes to a 'normal' state school (albeit a top non selective) and she has to choose 2 languages for years 7-9 from French, Spanish and Latin. One of the schools in our town also runs music and humanities classes in a foreign language for those in the top sets.
Thanks for the responses, seems it’s not one set rule then.......
Mine do learn a language but it’s a really tricky one and the teaching isn’t done well, DS1 in year 6 (has been learning since reception) still only knows a very limited amount. I am approaching the school about adding in another language for year 7 so wanted to use some examples of what UK are doing.
Language teaching in primary in most schools, rightly or wrongly is really more about exposure to the language than anything else.
Most teachers in year 7 start teaching from the point of view that the pupils have no prior knowledge.
At DS's school, French compulsory years 7-9, with a second (choice of German or Spanish) years 8-9. No MFL is compulsory to GCSE level and they've just announced they're not starting any more MFL courses at A level from next year due to lack of take-up (Only 4 in German and 5 in French just started this September, so not viable).
My Ds did French at primary.
Secondary he is doing German . School is split into German and French.
If you look at how English (and later additional foreign languages) is (later are) taught in European countries who do it well you might find a better model. The native English speaking areas of the UK are rightly or wrongly world renowned for being terrible at teaching languages! It's really not the most obvious choice of role model in this specific area!
At DDs grammar it was 2 from year 7 of French / German / Latin. Now at comp and either French or Spanish from y7, can take both at GCSE. Also can study bits of other languages in spare time from y9.
DS has compulsory French in years 7-9 although can change to Spanish in year 9. He also has to do Welsh up to GCSE level but not actually take it if he doesn't want to.
Our school offer French and Spanish in year 7 - 9. They used to offer German and Latin too but funding cuts.
After that they can do 0, 1 or the two languages.
I wouldn't worry too much. I have recently retired from teaching MFL in a large comprehensive with an extensive number of feeder schools, and the knowledge of a foreign language on the part of Year 7 entrants is generally minimal (native speakers aside). We set a baseline assessment for Year 7 entrants, and the results of the test are generally very low.
Going to put a different spin on this.
We are abroad too.
The local language is taught from reception. They add in French at year 3. Both languages continue until GCSE choices. Only native speakers are allowed to take the local language GCSE.
Looking at secondaries near me, norm seems to be French or Spanish from Y7, then can add the other or Italian/Russian/Mandarin in Y7/8/9. Sadly out of a dozen likely schools not one offers German.
My kids have been in French lessons at primary from Y1 but seem to have picked up almost no words but a reasonable accent over 5 years. Conversely I have a lot of vocab and an excruciating accent...
DD’s Grammar did Latin and French in Y7, then Latin became a paid for optional from Y8. They then had to add either Spanish or German from Y8 whilst continuing French. DD is in Y9 now and doing French, German and Mandarin. Mandarin is a twilight class taught at lunchtime (another option is Japanese) and after school as that way the school is allowed to charge for a curriculum option they say they otherwise can not afford to offer. Not a perfect solution but there are funds for those who want to do it but are on limited budgets.
I think that many uk children are not well prepared for languages in secondary school when they are in primary education but good secondary teaching can put that right.
Sadly there isn’t a huge amount of good secondary teaching about and it’s patchy. My DD1 has no primary languages at all but was still offered a place at Oxford to read MFL. Good teaching and ability made up for zero teaching at primary.
At DS's school (local comp), it's two out of Spanish, French and German for yrs 7,8,9, and they are encouraged to take at least one language for GCSE.
@Autumn101: a modern foreign language is compulsory in the national curriculum in key stage 3 (years 7-9). A language is also compulsory in key stage 2 (years 3-6). It is up to school to decide which language(s) to offer (though at key stage it has to be modern one, which it doesn't at key stage 2).
Academies don't have to follow the national curriculum, though. And most secondary schools are now academies.
Thanks for all the responses, it’s been great to get a feel of what’s on offer in the UK
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