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Should a language be compulsory at GCSE?

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    It kinda is. My sister is applying for Imperial or UCL, I'm not sure and according to her, they require atleast a C in a Modern Foreign Language at GCSE level. I'm not sure though.
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    (Original post by Claire888)
    NO, my school had French as a compulsory subject when I did GCSEs, they have now changed it to French or Spanish or German. But anyway I came out with a B because I did no revision, I didn't care how I did as I knew that it wouldn't help me in the long run. I should be good at french because I had learnt it for so many years but still had no grasp of the basics and can remember virtually none now (2 years on). The way it is taught in British schools is awful, it doesn't teach you how to speak it properly, which in the long run, for future use is the most important part. It mainly concentrates on grammar which wouldn't be used often or things which just wouldn't come up in an ordinary conversation.

    My additional two years taught me very little and I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't interested, although it does sound like A-level is worthwhile (from friends who love it) as you learn how to use the language in perspective, read literature and articles in the language, rather than concentrating on things of little importance.
    As much as i hate to say it, getting something in the right tense (ie grammar) is pretty important though?
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    It's compulsory at my school, but I go to a high-achieving Grammar school where a lot of students go on to the top universities, so that might have something to do with it.
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    (Original post by burgerrr)
    As much as i hate to say it, getting something in the right tense (ie grammar) is pretty important though?
    Well yes, of course your right, but I have to say that was the most poorly taught part of the course for me at least, I never learnt it properly and now never will. The smallest part was actually about speaking it, ie getting pronunciation right, so I think that should have been pushed much more. If it had been a more transferable skill to real life, ie working in France, visiting or just learning about french culture (as A-level seems to be) I think I would have enjoyed it, sadly I hated it and gave up as soon as my school would let me
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    It's the same across the board past GCSE at A Level or IB. Languages are useless in that country. Currently I'm doing racism and cultural diversity in my French lessons at school but realistically when I visit my family in Quebec I won't discuss racism or cultural diversity at the dinner table. Languages need to be taught to be more practical.
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    I think that it's great to have a language, but really my GCSE Spanish would get me nowhere in Spain because they teach topics that you are never going to talk about realistically. I do however believe that the A-Level is worthwhile because although the topics aren't particularly helpful, the skills you develop would allow you to get around fairly easily...like I am so much better at listening and speaking than before, in GCSE you just memorised answers to questions you knew in advance whereas A-Level speaking is like 20mins of spontaneous speaking.
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    Yes it should be compulsory. I think students who don't leave school with at least one foreign language are missing out on an awful lot. Learning a second language opens up new and exciting possibilities. You learn about another country, its customs and its culture, study its history and learning another language makes you more critical of how you use your first language. I mentioned this in another similar thread, but in a modern world there is no excuse for not studying two languages. Perhaps the reason for some would be that the economic prospects offered by having a second language is advantageous. Other young people in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Germany, Holland and Belgium leave school with two or three languages, including English. What is our excuse?
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    (Original post by Dalek1099)
    Google Translator doesn't work because it is non-human translator my teacher said,so they will lose a lot of marks for incorrect grammar and tenses because Google can only translate word for word.
    not necessarily. Google translate is definately better now than it was when I was 11.
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    I think a second language should definitely be compulsory at GSCE. As I'm a complete idiot I've taken Latin at GCSE, which was stupid. Because of timetabling issues at my school, I couldn't take French and didn't know any Spanish or German so didn't take a modern language. Then I discover that UCL require a modern language at GCSE level. *facepalm*

    As a country, we seem very lazy at languages. Most other countries are far ahead of us in terms of languages. I wish I had been pushed to do a language at GCSE as it would have been really worth it, and a language A level is very well respected. I'm trying to make up for my lack of language skills by taking a beginner's language course at college next year, but Farnborough only offer Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Greek and Spanish. No French! (I'm taking Spanish)
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    I think that a language should definitely be compulsory at GCSE.

    I agree that the system needs tweaking - for example for writing and speaking assessments, you should be given longer, but you shouldn't have been able to prepare prior to that assessment. Some people I know just memorise texts written out by their parents and regurgitate them in the speaking and writing assessments! Listening and Reading exams should also be made harder.

    However; from research it's absolutely proven that learning a language keeps your mind healthy (delays the onset of dementia), it is good for holidaying (locals really do appreciate someone just attempting the language, albeit simple words, phrases and sentences!).
    Another reason is employers value it! - It's needed for business and what not...

    As someone else has already pointed out, Universities are now starting to require it at GCSE level. If we don't make it compulsory, vast numbers of potentially very academic children will miss out on University, because they wanted less work when they were young and ill-informed.
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    (Original post by TenOfThem)

    There are plenty of students who need to focus on learning English to an appropriate level with it having to do an additional language
    Including yourself.

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    I got 98% in Int 2 French (scottish equivalent of GCSE) including full marks in the speaking. If a French person had come up to me the day after the speaking exam, I could not have held a conversation with them.

    I still enjoyed Int 2 French and I'm glad I did it, but languages at GCSE level are not useful enough to merit making them compulsory.
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    (Original post by ummm)
    I didn't do a language at GCSE, which means I can't apply to UCL now. But no, I don't think it should be made compulsory - most of the people at my school who did it don't really know a word of the language and just used google translate, and memorised stuff for their speaking exams, and writing exams. I could do that now with my year-9 level knowledge of french. Pretty pointless really. I hated languages, so was glad I didn't have to take one.
    You can apply to UCL , i did , they just ask you if you get an offer to do a summer school , take a half unit while doing a degree, and i can't remember the last option
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    (Original post by falcon pluse)
    You can apply to UCL , i did , they just ask you if you get an offer to do a summer school , take a half unit while doing a degree, and i can't remember the last option
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    (Original post by falcon pluse)
    You can apply to UCL , i did , they just ask you if you get an offer to do a summer school , take a half unit while doing a degree, and i can't remember the last option
    Really? I might email them about it then! Because if I like the university, then I won't really mind doing a half-unit or whatever. Thank you!
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    (Original post by burgerrr)
    So you wouldn't encourage Latin, (which is an amazing langauge to learn)?
    No, I wouldn't. There are only so many hours in the day devoted to teaching, and I think these would be better spent teaching maths, English and sciences. I also think that a complex and time consuming language like Latin would be very unsuitable for many students in secondary education.
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    I am doing a german GCSE .
    My lanaguage teacher said that they are going to make to compulsory in a few years time.
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    I do believe that there are not enough students in the UK learning languages. But I think if GCSE students are being forced to learn a language, they will not want to learn it.

    My main problem is that GCSE languages need to be harder. They are too easy and the gap between GCSE and A level is too big. Which discourages students from taking a language at A level as they believe it to be too hard.
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    I think in theory that to make a language compulsory is a great idea but in practice, it's disastrous. I could only take french for GCSE as it was the only option and out of the 15 of us (it was an extra as nobody wanted to take it on timetable), 5 dropped out and the rest of us, apart from me (I'm doing A-Level) have only stuck it out because it looks good on a uni application. The sad truth is it's forgotten the day after the exam and it will never come in useful for most. It should be an option but only because nobody wants to do it, which is a sad state of affairs which I can only put down to years of poor teaching across the board.
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    I think it should be encouraged but not compulsory.

    Last year, my school made it compulsory to take a language (Spanish or French).
    In my french teacher's 25 years of teaching, none of her students had ever achieved under a C, as soon as they made it compulsory, 5 people got Ds and under. She was devastated for them. They hated it and were forced to do it and so didn't try at all.

    I think it should be encouraged very much so though. I was apprehensive about doing French GCSE and it's now my favourite subject and I will be carrying it on for A-Level.
    I was especially worried because I started off getting Bs and I didn't think I could work myself up but I'm getting A*s now. It's also improved my language awareness and has, oddly, helped improve my English skills.


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Updated: April 11, 2012
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