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PGCE Primary vs Primary with MFL Specialism

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    • Thread Starter

    Hi all,

    I'm undecided whether I should go for the standard PGCE Primary course or the one with the MFL specialism. I like the fact that I would be able to offer something more if I do the MFL course... I'm not sure though if it is that much more beneficial. I have always enjoyed learning languages, but I haven't done so since A Level which is a very long time ago. I'd have to definitely brush up on my language skills this summer if I were to apply and the major downside is that no universities local to me offer this route - it seems the majority are in London and, having done my degree there, I'm not sure I want to accumulate more debt due to living costs.

    My main reasons for applying for the standard route would be the proximity of universities and also the fact that I am a bit rusty on the languages front so I'm not sure if many universities would accept me.

    Any enlightenment from anyone who has experience of, or is in the process of applying to, the MFL specialism course would be much appreciated. I'd just like to know whether it does differ, in terms of opportunities and career development, from the standard primary course. Also, which language - out of French and Spanish - would be best to go for? I'd be quite happy teaching either.


    Hi! Not sure if you still need this info as this is over a month old.

    I haven't started my PGCE yet, but I originally applied to do the general Primary PGCE but when I sent off my application one of the universities (Chichester) asked if I'd like to interviewed for the MFL route at the same time! I asked whether just having AS level French was good enough and she said it was no problem - bear in mind that you won't be doing anything that hard in KS1/KS2 lessons, she said you'd be lucky if you did anything other than present tense, so I'm sure skill wise you'll be fine!

    I've been told by NQT's that students with MFL tended to get jobs quicker, but that's not to say the general route students were left with no jobs of course it's all down to you as a teacher - but I think there's a shortage of language specialists so I think you would have the edge there.

    Out of French and Spanish I honestly don't think it matters; my interviewer spoke both (amazing!) and asked what one I preferred to teach, they are both in demand languages so it doesn't matter. I will also point out that she asked me 2/3 questions in French and I didn't answer them that well and she still seemed very enthusiastic so you don't need to be fluent by any means! I think you also have a slightly busier timetable where they fit in language sessions and there are opportunities to teach abroad if that's what you fancy.

    I too didn't want to commute far to uni so I applied to 3 all within half an hour of me; luckily they offered the MFL route. I think this mostly depends on how much you want to study languages to be honest because I totally understand not wanting to go too far for it so you have to decide whether that's more important than the MFL route.

    Sorry, rambled on a bit there - but in summary I think you may have a slight edge when it comes to job offers if you take the MFL route but if other circumstances stop you from that then it's not the end of the world. Good luck!

    On my course, I don't think people who took the MFL route had a significant advantage over anyone else. A lot of schools in my area employ specialists to teach MFL (I have worked in four schools thus far: three employ a French teacher to come in to teach every KS2 class and one has a PPA cover teacher who is fluent in French so employing a separate teacher isn't necessary) so an MFL specialism is unlikely to be given much weighting when considering an NQT's suitability for a position in most of the schools where I am. Of course things may be very different where you are and having a specialism is certainly better than none at all, particularly for the future.

    Personally, I would prioritise applying for courses in the areas in which you could see yourself working. I think finding an NQT position is slightly more challenging if you haven't trained in the area because you lack connections with local schools (it's quite common for NQTs to be hired by one of their placement schools) and schools aren't familiar with the quality of the training you have received or the schools in which you worked during your training. Of course there are undoubtedly a lot of people who land jobs miles away from where they trained, but I like to avoid creating even the smallest of obstacles for myself and, where I am, an MFL specialism wouldn't make a big difference. It's more of a nice bonus that may create opportunities in the future.

    If you are passionate about languages and want to go for the MFL route, don't let your rustiness stop you. There is such a big drive from the government to get more people with knowledge of MFL into primary schools that course providers won't mind it.
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