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'Less harsh' marking for GCSE German and French

(74 Posts)
StaronAinthorpe Tue 05-Nov-19 14:33:56

Interesting news. Clearly many other problems to overcome with languages teaching though.

OP’s posts: |
Comefromaway Tue 05-Nov-19 14:51:59

Interesting. Dd wanted to study a language but ended up regretting it as she got a 6 for French but got 8/9 for everything else.

LIZS Tue 05-Nov-19 15:00:17

Doesn't tackle the issue at A level where native speakers are at a clear advantage and fewer non native speakers are taking mfl as a result.

BubblesBuddy Tue 05-Nov-19 15:25:17

They have an advantage at university too. This needs to be addressed.

Witchend Tue 05-Nov-19 15:32:56

The dc's school is looking into MFL uptake. Apparently on average pupils get 1 grade lower in MFL than other subjects.

gleegeek Wed 06-Nov-19 09:21:23

My dd did double languages gcse in German and French. She is clearly good at languages but the gcse put her off, making her feel she wasn't good enough to do a language A-level☹. She came out with an 8 in German (was a full option) and a 7 in French.
I welcome the news the gcse will be looked at but it's too late for my ddangry

cakeisalwaystheanswer Wed 06-Nov-19 10:57:09

I so wish that they had made a similar announcement about A levels. DD has just dropped French because of the difficulty of getting a decent grade and I'm quite angry about it. That the govt has done nothing doesn't surprise me but the unis could have offered at least a one possibly 2 grade discount to any offer that included a language, that would have helped a lot.

DonkeyHotty Wed 06-Nov-19 10:59:07

This couldn’t come too soon.

GrumpyHoonMain Wed 06-Nov-19 11:03:06

The aim of a GCSE should be to build basic conversation skills that can be added to later. That means a focus on ‘real life’ communication skills rather than grammar. It’s so easy to get lost in the grammar in French and German to the point where even A grade students like me then struggle to communicate in the languages. Students who get good grades in GCSE Spanish, Gujarati / Hindi, and Mandarin GCSEs tend to retain their language skills for longer even though they can be a lot easier to pass (for example you can use an English word or two in the verbal to make yourself understood, and still get an A).

clary Wed 06-Nov-19 16:17:09

@gleegeek well quite. About time but yes, what about the people now in yr 12 and 13?

Well done to your Dd tho, a v bright friend of my dd did the first swathe of numbers and got almost all 9s: I know she was great at German as I did a bit of work with her and I told her that her 8 in it was equal to a 9 in just about anything else. Seems like I was right!

pointythings Wed 06-Nov-19 21:18:24

My DD did French GCSE this year and got an 8. This will really, really annoy her, especially since she taught herself the syllabus throughout Yr 9 and Yr 10 because of teacher illness. We aren't native speakers, though I do speak fluent French. All that hard work and next year's students will get easier marking...

Yolande7 Wed 06-Nov-19 22:01:40

Children who play instruments are at an advantage in music, children who do lots of sports do better in PE, children who do art class are at an advantage in art, children whose parents are scientists do better in science and children who speak a different language at home are at an advantage in that language. There is no way to factor all of that in.

Very few bilingual children truly have native speaker competence in two languages. I know of a bilingual school which tests the entire year group each year for language competency. In the past 3 years only one girl was considered native speaker level in both languages. There is a big difference between speaking a language at home ("Can you pass me the butter please?") and reading the classical literature or spell words correctly in that language.

I think the much bigger problem is the quality of MFL teaching in this country.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Wed 06-Nov-19 22:22:39

I love it when the parents of native speaking DCs claim there is no advantage for them in sitting these exams. If true I'm surprised that the exam boards don't let English children have a crack at the "English as a Foreign Language" A level instead of Eng Lit.

An A level is meant to test what a pupil can learn over the course of 2 years. A native speaker who already knows the language should sit an Int A level for native speakers of that language.

derbur17 Thu 07-Nov-19 08:39:23

I am pleased to hear this but agree with others that they should deal with the A level/native speaker problem.

One of my DC is doing two MFL at A level (Year 13). He got 2 x 9s at GCSE, is fluent in one (not a native speaker), and in the other he is probably C2 level. However he is only predicted As which he is having to work extremely hard for (far harder than his other subject). The girl who is a native speaker in one of his subjects is predicted A*. In another subject, he would easily be getting A*s for his level of competency so whilst As are good, it still pisses me off that his talents aren't recognised in MFL as they would be in other subjects.

Fortunately regarding his university applications this doesn't seem to matter as pretty much every university he visited made it clear they would be flexible about the grades especially as he is doing an EPQ as well. These were Russell Group universities btw, not Oxbridge. In all likelihood he should achieve the standard AAB but it is still nice to know that at least universities appear to recognise the disadvantages for non-native speaking MFL students in this country.

I think it just a shame for A level MFL generally. One of the 6th forms we visited last night for my DD, who also wants to do an MFL A level, told us last year there was 1 student in Year 12 and this year there are 4.

BubblesBuddy Thu 07-Nov-19 09:01:06

None of the skills mentioned by Yolande7 are taught by parents from birth. MFL is in a dual lingual house. All the foreign parents I know have taught their DC their language dir cultural reasons and speaking to grandparents etc. Honing a skill in maths or sport isn’t the same. Languages are practiced every day in the home as a natural part of life. Books are read. TV and films are watched. It’s very different and does confer an advantage.

BubblesBuddy Thu 07-Nov-19 09:05:23

Thankfully Oxford requires AAA. A recognition that A* is ultra difficult maybe? For Polish they expect beginners but those with experience are welcome to apply. So that course essentially welcomes native speakers!

oreomum Thu 07-Nov-19 09:11:16

Of course bilingual students have an edge! I'm bilingual and did the A-levelin my other language and got an A back in the day. I literally did 3 practice papers a month before the exam. I guess that I've been speaking and writing the language for years before the exam but it's a massive advantage nonetheless.

My dd did GCSE German last summer and got a 7. Shame that she couldn't benefit from this new policy.

oreomum Thu 07-Nov-19 09:15:58

Yolande7- my language A-level didn't have a speaking section. It was purely translation and creative writing in a modern language that was not as difficult in vocabulary as say a newspaper. Therefore I wouldn't say that native competency is necessary anyway.

Kokeshi123 Thu 07-Nov-19 09:24:17

I agree with BubblesBuddy.The advantages of "playing sport outside school" in terms of PE, are absolutely nothing compared with the advantages conferred by speaking a language at home.

We are a bilingual family and I am in favor of kids who speak foreign languages at home sitting a different, harder set of qualifications. If we were in the UK, I would not want my daughter to be taking GCSE Japanese at 16 and A-level Japanese at 18. I'd want her to work her way through the JLPT exams.

Kokeshi123 Thu 07-Nov-19 09:28:19

I mean, apart from anything else, don't native speakers and their families WANT to sit different and harder exams?

Sitting an exam in your native language that is supposedly pitched at the level that a non native speaker can attain with a few years of study, is really not a good look IMO (unless, of course, you are deliberately taking it several years earlier than usual). It has a strong whiff of a) wanting an easy A and b) deliberately limiting your horizons, if you are doing it instead of another subject which you might otherwise have done.

If we were in the UK, I would not expect my daughter to be fully "grade level" in Japanese literacy, but I'd be pretty embarrassed if she could do no better than GCSE and A-level by 16 and 18.

Trewser Thu 07-Nov-19 09:29:02

Just a friendly head wobble to the posters who's dcs are frustrated and annoyed about getting 7s and 8s!

We really must nip this absurd obsession with 9s in the bud.

I have a 13 year old dd who likes French. If she ends up passing with a 6 I'd be delighted. Why wouldn't you be?

Jocasta2018 Thu 07-Nov-19 09:30:55

I did modern languages at a Russell Group university and around 50% of the students were bilingual, living between the UK & their native country. Bit like me going abroad and studying English...
To say it gave them an advantage was an understatement and the professors didn't seem to take into account the edge these students had over the rest of us. It was very disheartening.

ShanghaiDiva Thu 07-Nov-19 09:34:32

I think this is one of the advantages of the IB - those who are native speakers cannot be entered for language B exams (non-native) and must take language A - making the B exams fairer for all candidates.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Thu 07-Nov-19 09:40:00

I think Kokeshi has nailed it and that is what I don't understand. Most of the students continuing with languages for A level at DD's school are native speakers and are taking it as an easy option. So in effect the parents are paying £25k pa for their DCs to learn 2 subjects for A level. I would want to see a lot more for my money but then IME 6th form at private school is a bit of a waste of money anyway.

plantainchips Thu 07-Nov-19 09:40:53

Personally, I don’t think there is as of a massive advantage to having native speakers at home. This same “advantage” applies to other subjects as well- music, art, biology:

DD & DS both did German, French and Spanish GCSES. Their father is Korean/Chinese and so they also sat Mandarin GCSE. Yes, they did well (9s and A*s) but that’s came from their hard work. They had to study for it just like everybody else.

DD also takes mandarin a-level and honestly, there is so much more than being fluent in passing an A-level. Literature etc. A lot of young people with speakers at home aren’t actually that great at writing & can sometimes struggle with formal speech.

There’s a reason why universities (a lot of them) haven’t made a change to requirements for young people with speakers at home. Has no impact on performance, at all

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