MFL Y10 CA's - Learning long tracts of it by heart...why?

(48 Posts)
Tansie Mon 17-Mar-14 19:43:38

If there are any MFL teachers around, can anyone explain the point of a DC learning, by heart, 1 and a half sides of an A4 sheet of written language (by themselves) so as to regurgitate it over an hour under exam conditions in a couple of weeks' time?

I genuinely don't know what it's supposed to test! I mean, I could learn a couple of pages of Arabic, given enough time (though admittedly I wouldn't have written the original myself! grin)- but even though DC wrote it (and had it corrected before being committed to memory) how does this help in their understanding of the MFL and what aspect of ability in that MFL does it test?

Next, if you can help me here, what's the best way for a DC to actually learn it? By remembering the first word of each sentence as a prompt? By 'learning' the English, like, say, if it were French, learn 'What is it that it is?' in order to translate it into the MFL?

TeenAndTween Mon 17-Mar-14 21:01:38

I think it's crazy too.

But my DD1 is doing 2 MFLs partly based on how they are examined - she isn't good at inventing stuff on the spot, so the prepare in advance system for CAs helps, plus she is good at learning lines for drama so we hope she'll be able to learn the CA stuff too.

SlowlorisIncognito Mon 17-Mar-14 21:26:02

I remember doing something similar for my GCSE French oral exam several years ago (although this was before it was called a controlled assessment). I think practising writing long passages in french taught me a bit (although not much that was useful). I suppose the learning it off by heart tests pronouciation, expression and fluency. We also had to answer questions about the text at the end, so as well as the long piece there were spontaneous answers of a couple of sentences needed too. It was only one part of the speaking exam.

Do remember that the teachers don't set the exam themselves, they are just trying to help your child get the best mark that they can.

For mine, I just tried to learn it by rote. I broke it down into small chunks at first, learning a paragraph at a time and then practised stringing the whole thing together. I don't think learning it in English is neccessarily helpful, as the grammar can be different in French.

Snargaluff Mon 17-Mar-14 21:28:10

Am an MFL teacher. There is no point, we all hate it.
However, separate it into paragraphs and try learning paragraphs. Stick them up around house. Some of mine write it out over and over on mini whiteboards.

Tansie Mon 17-Mar-14 21:28:29

DC has to sit down and write it all out for the CA, not speak it.

For the record, I do get that the teachers administer the exam, not set it- I was just wondering what they believe the exam boards' justifications are- seeing as I doubted I'd get an exam-setter on MN to tell me!

Tansie Mon 17-Mar-14 21:29:17

Ta, snarg! Cross posted with you.

Snargaluff Mon 17-Mar-14 21:30:09

I think it's ridiculous and sucks all the fun out of an MFL. It can be extremely stressful for students.

ohtowinthelottery Mon 17-Mar-14 21:31:51

I found it difficult to see the point in this too, when DS did his last year. It just seemed like an exercise in who had the best memory rather than who was best at understanding and speaking a language. I think MFL teaching is very different from how I was taught French at O level many years ago. I couldn't get over the amount of stuff they learnt French/German to English rather than English to French/German.

EasyCompadre Mon 17-Mar-14 21:40:50

Agree with snarg... As an MFL teacher I find utterly ridiculous, as an exercise it's as far from what learning a language should be about as it possibly could be.

Try writing the fist letter of each word in the first sentence as a 'language ladder' e.g.
'I am learning my French controlled assessment piece today' would be I A L M F C A P T and when you can say/write that sentence from memory without looking at the language ladder then add on the next sentence.. Only when they can write the full paragraph with nothing to aid them do they move onto the next paragraph. Check spellings, grammar, accents etc each time and keep repeating until it's all correct.

MrsBartlet Tue 18-Mar-14 06:29:20

It is ridiculous and doesn't seem to be an effective way of teaching a language. Dd is doing French AS currently and has really struggled with the jump up, despite getting an A* for her GCSE. She finds it very difficult to speak French spontaneously. In fact, I can string a sentence together better than she can and I last studied French 25 years ago!

stillenacht Tue 18-Mar-14 06:41:01

I think its awful as do all my colleagues in mfl. However I remember learning 23 A4 sides in English the translation of the Aneid (sp?) for Latin GCSE in 1989.

meditrina Tue 18-Mar-14 06:42:36

It's dreadful - teaching to the test not teaching the language. And imposing a rote learning burden when none was intended.

LordPalmerston Tue 18-Mar-14 06:57:08

I'm doing exactly the same with s1. Wirst type of test. We have learned one writing and two spoken so far

Snargaluff Tue 18-Mar-14 06:58:45

We do a writing and a speaking after each module so for them it seems so neverending and I hate it too.

bigTillyMint Tue 18-Mar-14 07:00:54

So agree with all the above - DD is doing two languages and seems to have a CA every week.

Will they go with Gove's new reforms?

Snargaluff Tue 18-Mar-14 07:07:24

I think so, due to go back to a written test at end of year 11. Which I would prefer to be honest.
We never did coursework at my school but I hear that was much better than CA (although I expect easier to cheat!!)

bigTillyMint Tue 18-Mar-14 07:14:22

No coursework for any of my O'levels back in the Dark Ages. I would have hated the continuous pressure with CA's much better to just cram it the night before wink

wordfactory Tue 18-Mar-14 08:58:14

I haven't met a MFL teacher yet who thought there was much point to it!

DD has done some CAs in MFL and English and frankly they're a joke.

wordfactory Tue 18-Mar-14 09:00:52

Mrsbartlett the jump in MFL is notorious...

DD's French teacher has introduced iGCSE for the top set this year to help with the jump to AS.

cory Tue 18-Mar-14 09:55:11

stupid, stupid, stupid

my dd actually had a decent level of French but couldn't cope with learning by heart as her memory was suffering due to MH issues

ds otoh has very little understanding of French but will no doubt be able to learn to parrot a page of written prose; it's just that it wouldn't make any difference to him if it were written in gobbledygook hmm

Cnix Tue 18-Mar-14 11:49:57

As an Mfl teacher I hate what we make our students do. It's not what I went into teaching for. Added to the fact we keep making them do it again and again until they hit their target grade. Of course some never do and have nervous breakdowns. I doubt many students finish their gcse with any love of languages.

Tansie Tue 18-Mar-14 13:08:04

I am 'pleased' to see how many MFL teachers also think it's a waste of time and uses up valuable lesson time that could be used to imbue more skills in how to use the language!

Nocomet Tue 18-Mar-14 15:55:15

English doesn't seem much better, do a practice essay with"almost" the same title, Write it again with the suggested improvements for the real thing.

wordfactory Tue 18-Mar-14 15:58:59

I think they're being phased out - which has got to be right!

Kez100 Tue 18-Mar-14 17:33:34

The problem is some students then take A level and can't cope. I had a friend and she and a mate both got A grade at GCSE. She couldn't cope with A level and her mate could, so the GCSE obviously didn't differentiate. She dropped it but not before it was too difficult to pick up another A level. In fact, it got her down so much, she almost pulled out of College entirely.

My daughter worked really hard to get a C grade and did. Two years later, she cannot string a sentence together. I got a C grade O level in 1983 - I'm certainly no expert but I could make a pretty decent effort at writing a letter or conversing in basic French if I were to go there.

It's not the teachers fault!

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