Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Languages options in KS4.

A senior colleague asked me this week what I was planning to do to attract Year 9 students to choose French as one of their option subjects in KS4 (14-16 years old).

I replied, "Nothing."

You might think that that was a very flippant answer. And, replaying the conversation back in my mind later, I realised that, you are right, and it's little wonder that one or two of my colleagues regard me as an arrogant jerk. (The others just plain don't like me.)

What I should have said was, "I try to make the language learning experience as positive and enjoyable as possible for all students, starting in year 7 and continuing through year 8 and 9, so that they will choose to study Languages of their own volition, without my colleagues and me resorting to some kind of embarrassing "all singing all dancing" display on Options Evening."

Admittedly, some of the other subjects on offer may seem more attractive. I can see the benefits of some students wanting to learn hairdressing or completing a course in catering, or ICT, or history, or drama, but they could do languages as well, couldn't they?

We can all do something about attracting students by offering a positive learning environment to all of them. Show them the value of language learning. It's never too late to improve their learning experiences or improve our own teaching. If they choose not to study French or Spanish or German, we can at least leave them with a set of very good, useful, transferable skills and a happy experience of their time in KS3.

Too many Modern Languages teachers complain that not enough students choose to study their subject.

Who's fault is that?


Clare Seccombe said...

Whose fault is that ?

In my experience, SMT's ! They would much rather coax the kids who want to do a language into a really useful Diploma course or BTEC or something which is shiny and makes the school look good.

Dom said...

I totally agree. It certainly helped my school attain it's best ever results this year, while MFL results were the worst in many years.

aliceayel said...

I totally agree with you and with Clare. Every year we have to come up with "fun" ideas to make year 9 choose languages. Then they come to year 10 and say "I thought it was going to be fun but it's boring!". The way GCSE exams are set with the same boring topics they already learnt in KS3 "my bedroom", "my town"... and those boring courseworks they have to write doesn't help either!