Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Becoming more attractive.

Before you start to get worried, this post is not about my impending visit to the plastic surgeon, but rather some thoughts on improving the way in which students at my school view modern languages.

I've recently started a new job in a much nicer, bigger school. The staff are friendly enough and the students are mostly keen and well behaved. The department is well managed and the students achieve well, right through to A level.

I'm really enjoying it.

This week, though, I discovered something which worried me. I found out that languages is the most unpopular subject in the school among the current Key Stage 3 students (11-14 years old).

You don't look surprised to hear this, but I was genuinely shocked. After all, Key Stage 3 students are the Key Stage 4 students of tomorrow. Without Key Stage 4 there won't be a department.

So, I have made it my mission to improve the way in which students view the subject and I'm also going to continue to try to get my departmental colleagues to do the same.

Using ICT is a no-no because the school system isn't up to the job. We still have IE6 and we aren't even able to install Flash (or download anything) onto the computers.

Most web2.0 tools are blocked and mobile phones are banned.
(Yes, I know. I wasn't going to mention phones again, was I? Did I tell you about the BBC? Oh, I did. Sorry.)

I don't want to worry you but you might want to sit down for this next statement. Ready? OK, here goes....a modern languages lesson in ICT usually involves students using Powerpoint or Word to redraft work.

We can't go on like this.

I already have some ideas for next term (thanks to Joanna Pickering et al) and I hope to pick up some advice from MFL Show and Tell next week.

I'll share my improvements with you as and when.

Watch this space. We might both learn something.


bootleian said...

I can only sigh. With the Tory, sorry, Coalition government threatening to raid the national ICT budget to fund free schools and academies I am moved frequently to go outside and howl ferociously at the moon. Gove & Gibb seem hell-bent on bombing schools back to the Stone Age of "Cripes, yaroo you rotters" as fags (original meaning) gently toast crumpets before the fire in the dorm. Don't they understand that we don't live in the 1950s anymore? Have they not seen the "Shift happens" presentation? I don't know what the answer is, but having lived through the worst excesses of Thatcherism I fear for the future, with a regime of unreconstructed fascists at the helm in Sanctuary House. Languages will always struggle if we can't harness the technologies that our pupils use on a daily basis. Qhat's worse is that our deputy Prime Minister, for once, is a polyglot, which is more than you can say for our Foreign Secretary! I think we should target Nick Clegg mercilessly - he of all people should be aware of the advantages of speaking more than one language, and he should be going in to bat for us. Let's not forget - monolingualism is a disease for which we have the cure.

aliceayel said...

I look forward to reading what you come up with to become more attractive. I have the same kinds of issues at my school where IT resources are very limited and the Internet is very slow, which make it difficult to use web 2.0 tools! Also, it feels like I am the only one concerned about the lack of IT! So let's see how you improve this at your new school! Best of luck :)

Dom said...

Thanks for your comments bootlian and alice. They are much appreciated and food for thought. I shall certainly feed back my successes and failures, and try my very best to attract as many students to MFL as I can.

Anonymous said...

Howdy Dom,

man do I feel for you, buddy. The one good thing about not being in the classroom this year is the number of teachers I've got to meet across the country and talk to them about their issues and this is the one that I've come across the most. Yes, you and I know that our pupils have moved forward and our teaching needs to reflect that, but do so many SLTs? NOOOOOOOOOOO. But they've moved forward in more than just ICT and that's something we all need to address. The content we're expecting them to deal with is so ridiculously unappealing and unstimulating. We're forever asking them to give us a precise answer and to ALL give us the same answer give or take an inch. How can you be creative if you're just endeavouring to work out the answer that's in the teacher's head? And unfortunately although ICT can help alleviate that issue, until we look at the core of what we're doing it will only be masking existing structural weaknesses. Grr. But alas ICT's often easier to put in place quickly.

But bud so much of it also comes from the right teacher- which is why they're so lucky to have you!