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Choosing only German as a modern language

(28 Posts)
MrsMuddle Thu 26-Mar-09 20:11:24

DS2 is choosing his standard grade options, and for his modern language he wants to do German rather than French.

He's only done German in S2, whereas he's been doing French since P5 (ie 5 years).

In my day (blah blah blah), you could only do German if you did French too.

I somehow don't feel German is as useful as French, (MrsMuddle dons tin hat, and prepares for onslaught!) especially as we go to France for holidays a lot.

He's made his decision, and I respect that, but I'd welcome opinions from modern language teachers..

sachertorte Thu 26-Mar-09 20:27:49

It seems to me that he´s made a decision based on interest and this ís fine. Motivation is the key to language learning and I know through personal experience how I instinctively get on better with some languages whereas others need more work.

To be frank, which language is the most useful doesn´t really come into it IMO. Is he rebelling against YOUR interests btw, or could he be concerend about having his language skills tested regularly on holiday? ; )

mrsgboring Thu 26-Mar-09 20:34:59

If he prefers German, let him do German. I'm pretty sure German is more widely spoken than French (though French is a UN lang. and German isn't). It's also very handy for Russian or Ancient Greek, should he be interested in the future.

mrsgboring Thu 26-Mar-09 20:36:18

Also, try Germany for holidays - we had a fabulous time last year in Germany. smile

pillowcase Thu 26-Mar-09 20:44:09

I studied both German and French at uni. German seemed easier to begin with as it's so much easier to pronounce. But the grammar is very difficult. Does he realise this?

Perhaps he feels that after 5 yrs he'll never master French and wants to try sth different?

For future use I've rarely had need for German, but married a French man and live in France, so French has been quite useful grin

I still don't regret learning German though.

What to advise your DS? I would say talk about why he wants to learn German. If he genuinely shows an interest, in travelling to Germany etc, let him go ahead with that.

If he's opting 'out' of French and trying German for a change, let him go with it anyway.

Best result: he learns German and still gets to practise French on hols!

MrsMuddle Thu 26-Mar-09 20:49:12

Sachertorte, I'm glad you said that usefulness shouldn't be considered.

He is v motivated in German, less so in French. He actually finds German really really easy, whereas I found it much harder than French - I still don't understand cases! And he gets on really well with the German teachers, so that makes a difference too.

mrsgboring, he's desperate to go to Germany and talk German, so we'll do that next year. Where did you go?

mrsgboring Thu 26-Mar-09 21:01:04

We crossed to Denmark and then drove Eastwards from there most of the way across the top of Germany to visit some friends who live in the NE corner of Germany. It is gorgeous coastline all the way along. Highlight of our trip was Lubeck and Travemunde - Lubeck is a lovely medieval city with marzipan shops and Travemunde is a seaside resort nearby. We stayed in Travemunde (at the Hotel Charlotte if you're interested - would recommend) and did day trips into Lubeck. It's quite a German resort: no-one in the hotel really spoke English much so it would be great for your DS to practise. We were travelling with a toddler though: couldn't really speak to whether it's a teenager's cup of tea.

My best friend preferred German to French and I couldn't understand it either though I can sort of do both. Speaking and listening-wise I'm now rusty in both languages and on last year's holiday had no difficulty talking and understanding in shops etc. on our trip. But I have appalling difficulties talking French these days, even though I can read a novel in French fairly comfortably (but would struggle in German)

If he's v. motivated in German that's really good. If he's very good at it too, it might be worth reconsidering only taking one modern foreign language - would get some careers advice if there's a possibility he might want to do German at university for example, as having another language to Higher level might help for getting onto a course.

Right, I must stop waffling and go to bed.

cat64 Thu 26-Mar-09 21:10:56

Message withdrawn

cat64 Thu 26-Mar-09 21:11:59

Message withdrawn

christywhisty Thu 26-Mar-09 21:38:34

I only did german at school back in the 70's, we didn't get a choice to do french until we took o'levels.
I have used it in Crete while watching england v germany in the world cup in a bar full of germans,and found it useful in the Netherlands, where we often go on holiday as some of the words are similar.
I didn't have a prolbem with the grammer but remembering which der, die or das the noun was, because I got that wrong it sometimes looked like I got the grammer wrong, when it wasn't IYSWIM.

LongDroopyBoobyLady Thu 26-Mar-09 21:46:10

I think it's really important he chooses the options he really likes and is good at but would look at what other options he's proposing to take with German.

MrsMuddle Thu 26-Mar-09 23:02:53

Thanks everyone.

He does enjoy it and is good at it, and he's a pedant like his mum interested in grammar too, so it will suit him.

Everyone has to take maths, English, a social subject (history, geography and modern studies) and a modern language. That's non negotiable. He wants to study medicine or maybe forensics / pathology, so he's doing 3 sciences too, and the last one has to be creative/technical.

Babbity Thu 26-Mar-09 23:13:00

I did German and not French for Higher (though I did do Standard Grade French). Everyone raised an eyebrow; I'm not sure why. I always loved German and was much better at it than French, and even now my knowledge of German comes in useful now and again - the grammar particularly. I never found it hard btw - it so much more logical than English and French, and so easier to learn. I'm a pedant too.

Summersoon Fri 27-Mar-09 13:41:56

Dear MrsMuddle,

I think that, if possible, your son should do both languages. If he is allowed to choose only one, I think that he is doing the right thing choosing German. This is particulary true if he intends to continue learning the language to A-level standard and possibly beyond, precisely because it is a less popular choice for British pupils. If he can learn to speak and read German to business standard, I believe that it will considerably enhance his prospects in the job market later. In our company, we are always looking to hire German-speakers and it is not easy!

Regards, Summersoon

Hawkmoth Fri 27-Mar-09 13:44:36

I chose German at school and had tuition for French. One hour a week, £20 and did the exam a year early. The school let me sit it there, but were pretty pissed off because I got the best mark by far.

Like him, I couldn't do two languages and three sciences.

Hawkmoth Fri 27-Mar-09 13:45:51

Er, BTW, lessons only in term time, and not for the whole year either. I can't remember the textbook but it made it seem ludicrously easy.

choochoochaboogie Sat 28-Mar-09 21:50:42

I think German is a brilliant language, much better than French and I speak a few. More important than anything is that he enjoys whatever he choses - if you try and make him try and change his mind you will pay the price everytime he struggles over homework....
Let him go for it!
Viel Glueck

MrsMuddle Sat 28-Mar-09 22:29:59

Thanks everyone. He's handed in his form to do German only, and we're both very happy with the decision - there was such a lot of positivity towards German on this thread that it's put my mind at rest.

Interestingly, out of appx 250 pupils, there are only 7 that are doing only German. There will probaly be about 30 or so that are doing both, and the rest are all doing French. I was at parents night on Thursday, and the German teacher said that the ones that are doing German are all really keen and committed, and she's really looking forward to teaching them for the next two years. smile

Summersoon, I may send him in your direction in 4 years time for a job!

risingstar Mon 30-Mar-09 01:53:24

my dd has chosen to do German- her language teacher takes her for both and wanted her to do both, but conceded that given that they only had 4 free choices, it was going to be one or the other. he felt she would be fine doing German, i think that if she has a thing for lanuages, she can pick up French/spanish later on.

Isn't it a releif once the form is in!

hellywobs Sun 19-Apr-09 19:22:43

Just because he's only doing German now, doesn't mean he won't pick up other languages later. I did German to post-grad degree level but learnt French in Germany and also at work, and did GCSE Italian at night school. You don't need to worry about having a second language for degrees in the vast majority of cases.

Try Germany (or Austria) for a holiday too - you may find you love it more than France! Hamburg is a lovely city and you can then go to places like Lübeck; also the Black Forest and Rhine Valley are great places. The "best" German is spoken in the Hanover area; Berlin would be a great place to visit too. Lake Constance is also a great place away from British tourists and Vienna is a fantastic city.

German is much easier than French as well - phonetic language so easier to write and understand and they speak more slowly - the grammar really isn't that bad but it depends how your brain works - so if he has an affinity with German let him do it as he may struggle with French - I found German and Italian very easy and French and Spanish much harder.

German used to be very useful in Eastern Europe but they tend to speak English now. It's an EU language but not a UN one, as someone else mentioned. But ultimately it doesn't have to be useful, you just have to like it and like the people/country/lifestyle which I do. But I ended up marrying an Englishman against the odds and so live in Blighty.

frenchteacher2 Sun 19-Apr-09 21:55:16

Good to here this as the number of British students offering any German is frighteningly low and his grammar interest will be vital.

Haven't taught Gcse German for over 12 yrs but shouldn't think much has changed ... you can certainly get them to pass and now even possibly with an A especially if coursework is done without much of a real clue about endings at all but without the grammar being taught in good old fashioned way (i.e. not using the target language!!) it can be very difficult for the teacher to get them through the written summative papers and those for whom choosing it was a mistake can really struggle by YR 11

Don't know what text books are like but we always relied on Malvern Languages guides which are now still only £4 or £5 to support getting kids through.

The other shock they can get by YR 10 /11 is that the Haus/house Maus/Mouse Kirche/ Kirk easy vocab is swiftly replaced by it becoming much more challenging though this might appeal if he has a good eye for problem solving as if you break the words down they mean the same as the French which for same reason becomes easier in terms of vocab

environnement = Umwelt (around the world)
éducation = Erziehen pulling out rather than leading out!!
excellent = ausgezeichnet = marked out
télévision (apparently 'an ugly greek latin hybrid' according to classics friend!! ) fernsehen (far seeing)

etc etc

To be frank it will depend on the teacher being able to spend time addressing how the language works

frenchteacher2 Sun 19-Apr-09 22:12:08

Sorry didn't mean to post that without saying that, as others have, he can still continue with French whereas will find it harder the other way round but had gone to locate german dictionary from where it has been agathering dust for many a year and got carried away until alerted by smell of potatoes bolied away to the teflon 11. Thanks all for good idea /points and have renewed interest in German holiday idea for next year

hulabula Mon 20-Apr-09 13:56:50

We just had a lovely skiing holiday in Austria, but have also been to the Austrian Alps in the summer - very beautiful and very family friendly!

Good luck with your son's German!

annasmami Wed 22-Apr-09 13:07:50

You might find this list of global languages spoken helpful:

The following list is from George Weber’s article “Top Languages: The World’s 10 Most Influential Languages” in Language Today:
(number of native speakers in parentheses)

Mandarin Chinese (1.1 billion)
English (330 million)
Spanish (300 million)
Hindi/Urdu (250 million)
Arabic (200 million)
Bengali (185 million)
Portuguese (160 million)
Russian (160 million)
Japanese (125 million)
German (100 million)
Punjabi (90 million)
Javanese (80 million)
French (75 million)

qumquat Sun 26-Jul-09 11:04:56

Good for your son! I loved German at school and went on to do a degree in it! I never enjoyed French half as much. I'm so pleased he's really motivated in German as it's sucha great language and there's so many beautiful and exciting places to explore in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The literature and history and hugely fascinating too. (not that I'm biased!). I took up Spanish from scratch as the second language for my degree, most universities offer this option, so there's no need to feel he's limiting himself if he wants to go on to do a languages degree.

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