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Any MFL teachers around?

(10 Posts)
GreenPencil Fri 07-Nov-14 12:21:08

I'm in my third year of a four year undergraduate degree and I'm thinking about future careers. There are huge financial incentives at the moment for graduates of Modern Languages to go into teaching, which is something I'm considering, but am slightly apprehensive/undecided.

When I was at school, languages were compulsory to GCSE and the kids who didn't want to be there would play up and make the MFL teachers' lives hellish, and I'm not sure the uninspiring curriculum helped. I'm concerned by these aspects, but still see teaching as a potentially hugely rewarding career - my teachers were fantastic and really got me engaged in languages, for which I'm hugely grateful.

So can anyone give me a bit of an insight into what it's like to teach MFL in secondary schools at the moment? smile

Primrose123 Fri 07-Nov-14 12:32:58

I didn't become an MFL teacher, but I did do a degree in French and German quite a few years ago. We were told that there were brilliant opportunities for MFL teachers. I started a PGCE but it wasn't right for me. I was disappointed by the terrible behaviour of many of the pupils, although there were lovely ones too. I went into industry, where I used my languages. I gave up after a while to look after my children, and have now retrained as an ESOL lecturer, (teaching adults) and start my first job in the next few weeks.

One of my friends trained as a French teacher about ten years ago, having been told that there was a shortage of language teachers. Since then, she has not been able to get a job as a full time teacher. She has done supply, maternity cover, and is now doing some sort of job where she is employed by a school to cover lessons where the teacher is absent. She loves teaching but is disappointed by the lack of jobs available. It may be very different for you - perhaps it is the situation in our area, or perhaps there is something about her that has stopped her getting a job, I don't know.

I'm sure there are many MFL teachers who love their jobs though. I think if you want to work in a secondary school, you need to be very confident and have a very thick skin!

chilephilly Sat 08-Nov-14 08:26:55

Simples. Don't. No vastly inflated salary ( I'm on nowhere near the much vaunted 65k, and I've been in the game for 24 years) will ever make up for the stress of ridiculous targets, constantly moving goal posts, an insurmountable workload, Ofsted, unreasonable parents and management who live in cloud cuckoo land. Really; don't.

chilephilly Sat 08-Nov-14 08:51:58

Don't get me wrong: being in the classroom with the kids is the best. It's all the other shite that gets in the way.

fussychica Sun 09-Nov-14 17:47:27

DS is currently considering doing the same following his graduation in June. He can offer several languages (Spanish, French and German)so hoping that gives him a good edge over some others employment wise.

He worked in a French secondary school on his year abroad and has done several weeks observation in the UK so kids wise he knows what he's letting himself in for (he has a very thick skin) but I'm not sure he's ready for all the other shite that gets in the way of teaching.
So many of the posts on here and other forums are scary. It seems very few teachers still enjoy their job.

Olivo Tue 11-Nov-14 17:23:08

I agree with chile. Don't do it. The children I teach are mostly great, but my love of languages has been killed by all the 'other stuff' . As for £65k salaries...... Not me despite additional responsibilities and over 15 years experience hmm

DontGotoRoehampton Tue 11-Nov-14 17:59:11

Another one who says don't do it.
However thick your skin, the classroom is not the problem - being in the classroom is the best bit, regardless of behaviour.
But the other stuff does grind you down, and the curriculum is just as uninspiring, however much MFL teachers jump through hoops to entertain, the actual stuff to learn is dire.
I trained as an MFL teacher, got a 20 k bursary -which is not a huge incentive when you have to live, and also pay 9k in fees. I now teach science.
btw - French and German are withering on the vine - it is the older teachers who tend to offer those, and more prevalent in indie schools. in state, the groundswell is towards Spanish, which is much easier, loads of people available to teach it, and much easier to 'sell' to parents.

bronya Tue 11-Nov-14 18:05:58

Teaching is lots of fun and very rewarding when you're single. It's a nightmare trying to meet the ever changing goalposts when you have a family, because you either satisfy school and almost totally ignore your children, or attempt to satisfy both and really please neither of them. I wouldn't recommend it, unless your long-term plan was to be a SAHM when you settle down and have children!!

wtffgs Tue 11-Nov-14 18:07:12

There's a reason there is a hefty financial incentive - they can't keep anyone! It could suck the very life out of your love for languages! Primary might be better but the workload is worse.

Brookville Wed 12-Nov-14 21:15:28

I posted this recently on another thread:
I trained at 26 and have been in the game for 10yrs. I'm looking to get out.
1. the sheer amount of lesson planning that I end up doing at night after my (pre-school) kids are in bed because I haven't got any time during school days or days with my kids. Yes, I have been teaching a long time but I'm still planning afresh because the curriculum keeps changing.
2. There is huge daily pressure to deliver 'good/outstanding' lessons. This isn't just about lesson planning but also good relationships with students, behaviour management, exceptional organization (all your sheets copied, glue sticks at the ready etc) and more.
3. Inspections and lesson observations seem never ending and I never EVER feel I'm good enough or that my work is appreciated, either by pupils, colleagues or SLT.
4. I feel constantly frazzled and rushed because I teach in about 7 different classrooms with different seating arrangements, some with books, some not, some with scissors, some not, some with rubbish computers, broken projectors etc. So even if I'm mainly organised something else is out there to thwart the success of the lesson!
5. The marking....especially GCSE & A Level, not to mention classes of 30 Y8 books. When do you fit all that in and enjoy your weekend? Increasingly schools are adapting more complex marking policies whereby the teacher has a 'conversation' with the pupil and pupil must respond in writing to show they have interacted with the marking. Very time consuming. Effective? Jury's out...
6. Performance Management is a real time-consuming pain. Meant to encourage people to better their practice but the admin is massive. And there is also a mild threat of people who don't meet their targets getting sidelined.

What I will miss:
1. it's great if you love your subject. Not many other jobs allow you to use what you studied at Uni in your work
2. most kids are nice and can cheer you up.
3. Holidays/pension
4. The day goes quickly

I would say, a lot of how you take to teaching depends on your self confidence, resilience and levels of anxiety. If you are a perfectionist it is very hard because you find you are never 'good' enough and will beat yourself up. If you can be happy with 'good enough' then you might do really well. Equally if you are in a good department with support, that can help. But staff turnover can be high.

In terms of money, it's not great at all. You earn about 12k more I think being a Head of Dept but that's really tough and not something (I think) anyone feels they can sustain for long. I was on about £40k at one point as HoD but since having kids I've slithered down to barely nothing once childcare is paid.

I think the thing with teaching is that the holidays are good but the term is hellish. Maybe less so if you're in a school where the behaviour is excellent as that's not as draining. But there is very little guarantee of getting such a post given competition for jobs.

And right now, I'd love to be watching the Apprentice but I've got planning for the rest of the week to do so instead I'm frittering time on MN

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