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The reality of teaching MFL?

(8 Posts)
BonnesVacances Wed 07-Jun-17 08:03:40

I'm considering training to teach MFL. I have a degree which is 50% French/Spanish so should be ok to get on a PGCE/SCITT, though the provider may insist on SKE. Also some teaching experience; 2 years TEFL and a year teaching Spanish after school in a primary school.

DH is a teacher so I'm know all about the trial and tribulations of being a teacher, the first three years etc., but he teaches Science. So I wondered specifically what it's like teaching MFL. I wondered how it is not being a core subject as such but is now included in the EBacc and how that has changed teaching it?

Also I know that there's a £25k bursary for Languages which implies there is a shortage of teachers, but is that really the case? I would be taking a pay cut to teach and not being able to get a job when qualified would be a problem.

Ironically DH was going to speak to the head of MFL at his school but hasn't had time to do that!

fussychica Wed 07-Jun-17 09:50:41

DS teaches MFL. He did a pgce. He got his job at an outstanding school on his first application. He was able to offer Spanish, French and basic German but has only taught Spanish so far despite the advert asking for Spanish and French.
Have a look at TES vacancy section. There are currently around 100 MFL jobs on there. Where you live is probably going to have the biggest effect on your employment prospects.

voobylooby Wed 07-Jun-17 09:55:57

I'm an mfl head of department and we struggle to recruit good teachers with good subject knowledge.

My school is reducing numbers who study mfl currently though, so there may be fewer vacancies nationwide?

To be honest the who,e political football thing makes it difficult to predict!

sleepingonthesparebed Wed 07-Jun-17 10:04:43

There is a massive shortage of MFL teachers in rural areas in particular and even more so in German so many schools are looking to ditch it or cut down on availability. As a Sp/Fr teacher your skills should be in high demand, especially as you could potentially offer both to KS5.

Despite that, decent MFL supply teachers are few and far between so if you wanted live experience to see whether it was for you then doing some supply will give you a realistic view (you're welcome to have my Friday afternoon yr 8s for example!!) and plenty of crowd control experience which would put you in good stead for future training.

Whilst the profile of MFL has by and large been helped by Ebacc, in reality it also means an almost return to the days of compulsory MFL for the very vast majority, even the very reluctant and low ability which means that especially with the new style GCSE 9-1 specification there is going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears on all sides.

There are plenty of jobs out there and TES is the best place to start.

I would strongly recommend getting experience somewhere before your course starts, even as a volunteer language assistant, for a few weeks this summer if at all possible. Lots of schools are doing yr 10 mocks and speaking mocks under the new GCSE specs in the next few weeks so it would be a useful time to see what it's all about.

There are also several FB groups for MFL teaching: just search secondary MFL and see what crops up.

FWIW I am Ge/Fr to KS5 and KS3 Sp and there's never a dull moment. smile

Good luck!

BonnesVacances Wed 07-Jun-17 15:37:30

Thank you. That's really helpful.

I will go into a school and observe a few lessons. I know there's a difference too between hearing DH talk about it and actually experiencing it.

MatchsticksForMyEyes Thu 08-Jun-17 20:16:05

Another head of MFL here. Teaching languages is challenging. Even more able pupils find it one of their most challenging subjects. It is perceived as a difficult subject and that brings problems of motivation. Depending on your area, parental support can be variable.
I do love teaching it, but hate having my results compared with other departments, considering that in MFL nationally pupils attain around half a grade lower than other subjects.

CauliflowerSqueeze Sun 11-Jun-17 14:22:36

The new gcse MFL is a massive leap up from the previous one.

Eolian Sun 11-Jun-17 14:42:40

I've been an MFL teacher for 20 years but these days I'm mainly a cover supervisor and do an hour a week of primary MFL, an adult class and a bit of private tutoring. I would hate to go back to being a proper classroom teacher.

I personally wouldn't advise anybody to go into teaching in state schools atm, whatever their subject. I won't elaborate on that - you must know what a train-wreck the education system is if your dh is a teacher. But MFL is probably one of the hardest to teach. It's undervalued by kids and parents, and is also seen as difficult. It is also a subject which is often hard to align with the current teaching trends because it inherently requires a lot of teacher input in class to model speaking the language.

I've also slowly accepted that language learning is inherently unsuited to being done in a couple of one hour chunks twice a week. Half an hour every day would be so much better - little and often. People are often scathing about kids passing an MFL GCSE but being utterly incapable of actually conversing in the language. This is largely true, I'm afraid, but it's an inevitable consequence if trying to learn a language with no immersion, infrequent lessons and also a total lack of knowledge of English grammar to base anything on.

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