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GCSE languages grades being pointless

I'm having a little bit of a mental debate/dilemma with myself and my brother lately about GCSE languages.

Basically, he's not doing amazingly in GCSE French because he hates it (and you won't retain any language that you dislike) but he's learning Polish on his own with me, which he loves and can speak very well.
We're having a problem because his teachers are getting on his back and calling our parents in to tell them all this.

It got me thinking, though - what does a grade in GCSE languages even mean? I have a grade A in GCSE French and I cannot speak French to any degree at all, I've forgotten everything and couldn't function in France.
However, I could have the same grade in GCSE Polish and that would mean a lot because I can have a high-level conversation in Polish, and the same is true with my brother.

So what do you all make of this? Do your GCSE languages grades actually mean anything?
Reply 1
Original post by GC3AT2
I'm having a little bit of a mental debate/dilemma with myself and my brother lately about GCSE languages.

Basically, he's not doing amazingly in GCSE French because he hates it (and you won't retain any language that you dislike) but he's learning Polish on his own with me, which he loves and can speak very well.
We're having a problem because his teachers are getting on his back and calling our parents in to tell them all this.

It got me thinking, though - what does a grade in GCSE languages even mean? I have a grade A in GCSE French and I cannot speak French to any degree at all, I've forgotten everything and couldn't function in France.
However, I could have the same grade in GCSE Polish and that would mean a lot because I can have a high-level conversation in Polish, and the same is true with my brother.

So what do you all make of this? Do your GCSE languages grades actually mean anything?


Doing a Language at GCSE just shows another skill that another subject doesn't, really...

If you got an A in french you must have done well, and I doubt you aren't able to remember anything?
I'm sure if you heard a conversation you'd be able to work out at least some of what the other person is saying.

Maybe you should talk to the school and explain that he is struggling to pick it up.
Is there another language he could try?

At the end of the day, languages are useful, and I'd say that any language GCSE is going to help you in life.

I personally love languages, and feel that it's important to have a good understanding of some :smile:

If he's doing well in Polish, explain this to the school? You could try getting him to sit GCSE Polish somewhere. Maybe that would make the school a bit happier?
Reply 2
Original post by Caitlin_3008
Doing a Language at GCSE just shows another skill that another subject doesn't, really...

If you got an A in french you must have done well, and I doubt you aren't able to remember anything?
I'm sure if you heard a conversation you'd be able to work out at least some of what the other person is saying.

Maybe you should talk to the school and explain that he is struggling to pick it up.
Is there another language he could try?

At the end of the day, languages are useful, and I'd say that any language GCSE is going to help you in life.

I personally love languages, and feel that it's important to have a good understanding of some :smile:

If he's doing well in Polish, explain this to the school? You could try getting him to sit GCSE Polish somewhere. Maybe that would make the school a bit happier?


I really can't remember anything. I mean, I can say 'I'd like a croissant please' and I think that's about it, little words here and there but I honestly know more Russian and Finnish than I know French. It's mainly because I hate the way French sounds.

Of course, they are useful. I just think it's pointless having an A in a language that you can't speak anymore :confused:

Learning languages is fun, isn't it? Especially the first part where you start to decipher conversations.

He could try to work on Polish but the school he goes to is terrible and in a terrible area, they don't listen to anyone (we've tried).
It's not so much the school that bothers me, it's his teacher. She's one of those language teachers where if you don't like her language, she hates you. And she basically just throws sheets of nouns and verbs at him and expects him to memorise them within 30 minutes.
Reply 3
Original post by GC3AT2
I really can't remember anything. I mean, I can say 'I'd like a croissant please' and I think that's about it, little words here and there but I honestly know more Russian and Finnish than I know French. It's mainly because I hate the way French sounds.

Of course, they are useful. I just think it's pointless having an A in a language that you can't speak anymore :confused:

Learning languages is fun, isn't it? Especially the first part where you start to decipher conversations.

He could try to work on Polish but the school he goes to is terrible and in a terrible area, they don't listen to anyone (we've tried).
It's not so much the school that bothers me, it's his teacher. She's one of those language teachers where if you don't like her language, she hates you. And she basically just throws sheets of nouns and verbs at him and expects him to memorise them within 30 minutes.


That's about all you need to know if you're going to France, you'd be fine :wink:

Yes, love it. It's a nice little thing to do in your free time.

Sounds awful :frown: I guess there's not much you can do then.
Maybe just really try to get him to enjoy it? Find fun ways to learn it or something?
Reply 4
They wouldn't make it a compulsory GCSE if it was pointless.
Reply 5
Original post by Caitlin_3008
That's about all you need to know if you're going to France, you'd be fine :wink:

Yes, love it. It's a nice little thing to do in your free time.

Sounds awful :frown: I guess there's not much you can do then.
Maybe just really try to get him to enjoy it? Find fun ways to learn it or something?


Haha, well i've been there, that's all they ever seem to say :tongue:

Which ones have you learned?

Yeah, he's trying to teach himself some, we'll see how that goes.

@BCMFM16 but most people after GCSE, unless they go onto further study of that language, will forget most of what they've learned. Why force it on kids?
Reply 6
Original post by GC3AT2
Haha, well i've been there, that's all they ever seem to say :tongue:

Which ones have you learned?

Yeah, he's trying to teach himself some, we'll see how that goes.


French, German, Spanish, Latin, Italian, Mandarin, Irish, Welsh and a couple of others but not very well :smile:
Yeah I agree with you, GCSE languages grades don't necessarily mean a lot. I just finished GCSE French, so I don't have a grade yet, but I can't speak the language - at best, I just know bits of vocabulary. I did enjoy my French lessons though, and am considering taking it for A-level. I think you *can* get a decent grasp of a language while doing a GCSE in one so it can therefore show that you can speak the language, but that's ultimately up to the individual themselves to extend their interest in it. But this could all be said for other subjects at GCSE too. Someone could revise a few days before an exam, have all of the information in the their short term memory and end up achieving an A, but they could forget all of what they learnt soon after. Therefore their grade won't really mean anything - it won't reflect their ability in that subject. Most GCSEs seem to be about storing tonnes of facts in your memory anyway... anddd I've forgotten what my point was.
Original post by GC3AT2
I'm having a little bit of a mental debate/dilemma with myself and my brother lately about GCSE languages.

Basically, he's not doing amazingly in GCSE French because he hates it (and you won't retain any language that you dislike) but he's learning Polish on his own with me, which he loves and can speak very well.
We're having a problem because his teachers are getting on his back and calling our parents in to tell them all this.

It got me thinking, though - what does a grade in GCSE languages even mean? I have a grade A in GCSE French and I cannot speak French to any degree at all, I've forgotten everything and couldn't function in France.
However, I could have the same grade in GCSE Polish and that would mean a lot because I can have a high-level conversation in Polish, and the same is true with my brother.

So what do you all make of this? Do your GCSE languages grades actually mean anything?


czesc(Hi) are you native polish?

I am planning to learn polish at a higher level and doing a GCSE. I know Polish language to an extent.:smile:
8 years late but languages are not compulsory

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