Turn on thread page Beta
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Soc)
    A little advantage yes, huge advantage no. Knowing about the culture, media, history and literature of the language, forms two thirds of the A2 part of the course, and its not necessary for every native speaker to know all these things.
    1) Even if what you said is totally true, you still acknowledge that the language itself forms 2/3 of the entire A Level. In other words, a lot.

    2) Presumably native speakers will in general come from a background of the particular country - and thus will also have a natural advantage in knowledge of the culture/literature etc of the country.

    Anyway, I don't think being a native speaker is just 'a little advantage'. It's massive. But I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.




    For "their" courses, which are not necessarily the best courses for everything. Most people doing Sport Science, for example, which from what I know is a pretty rigorous subject, aren't going to be applying to Cambridge anyway.
    Yes but the point is that Cambridge wants the best students for their courses - it doesn't really matter what those courses are. They want general skills - writing, logical thinking, creativity - and don't believe non-traditional subjects adequately provide them. What Cambridge's courses are isn't the point.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kizer)
    Yes but the point is that Cambridge wants the best students for their courses - it doesn't really matter what those courses are. They want general skills - writing, logical thinking, creativity - and don't believe non-traditional subjects adequately provide them. What Cambridge's courses are isn't the point.
    It does, if we're claiming that these are the "easier" subjects.
    Offline

    13
    (Original post by kizer)
    I don't deny IQ is going up (although that article seems to miss the very obvious point that birth control has led to birth rates plummetting among the well off as they delay children later and later).

    I deny that it accounts for the MASSIVE rise in A grades given out.

    And no shame in having rusty maths!
    Thanks for that generous comment.

    If we take all the variables into account ie;

    *'criterion' referencing (which tests knowledge rather than comparison with rest of cohort)
    * availability of familiarisation with what needs to be done to achieve a particular grade
    * increased IQ levels
    * teaching focussed to exam performance
    * plentiful practice on past papers
    * school motivation to higher achievement/attainment because of competetive elements of published league tables
    * modular exam system
    * coursework elements
    * resits
    * ethos of higher aspirations of students...

    ...then it is not really that suprising that much greater success is becoming the norm.

    As I said though, we shall eventually plateau, but not yet.
    Offline

    13
    Royal Holloway, by no means a "top university", though good, rejected my Urdu A level on the assumption that it was my home language. It may or may not have been; I had not alluded to such on personal statement. Even though it was, it is erronous (sp) to assume that because it is a home language, it would be easier, because it was not, it still required more knowledge and understanding than just conversational.
    There is no differentiation on foreign language papers. The same paper is taken by native speakers and non-native speakers.

    However, in English, there is a specific paper for those for whom English is spoken as a foreign language.

    I always thought it extremely unfair that the standards attained in say German A levels were artificially high because many German nationals take them whilst studying here, as all it requires is to register their name. They do not have to study for the exam at all.

    If you look at the results of 'German' A levels, you will see that a large proportion of them are A grades...that's because many of those who get that grade are German nationals.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yawn)
    There is no differentiation on foreign language papers. The same paper is taken by native speakers and non-native speakers.(
    That seems a bit daft.
    Offline

    13
    (Original post by Howard)
    That seems a bit daft.
    It's absolutely nonsensical, imo.

    Do British exam boards think that native speakers will not take exams designed for non-native speakers? :hmmmm:
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    Are exams getting easier? Well the universities and employers have been complaining for years about the skills disappearing from the workforce and how they are now having to set up remedial classes in English, Maths etc to compensate for what is no longer being correctly taught (if taught at all) in schools so judging by the evidence provided by those who have to deal with the product of the education system and simply have absolutely nothing to gain by pretending that standards are falling when they arent yes, they are.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by an Siarach)
    Are exams getting easier? Well the universities and employers have been complaining for years about the skills disappearing from the workforce and how they are now having to set up remedial classes in English, Maths etc to compensate for what is no longer being correctly taught (if taught at all) in schools so judging by the evidence provided by those who have to deal with the product of the education system and simply have absolutely nothing to gain by pretending that standards are falling when they arent yes, they are.
    I don't think that universities have been complaining about skills disappearing from the workforce, somehow. I personally think it is more to do with expectation than standards - more people are receiving a higher level of education now than ever before - this raises the level of expectation and hence it appears that standards are slipping. However, due to the larger number of people gaining more education we do need to raise grade boundaries so that they keep their effectiveness.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Howard)
    That seems a bit daft.
    why?

    the same paper is taken by both native and non-native speakers so therefore it is fair...

    surely the person who is better at the language is the one who gets the higher score on the same paper?

    even if people did have the privilege of knowing the language by growing up with it - the fact that they are still better at it remains unchanged - therefore they should get the higher mark...
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by riux)
    why?

    the same paper is taken by both native and non-native speakers so therefore it is fair...

    surely the person who is better at the language is the one who gets the higher score on the same paper?

    even if people did have the privilege of knowing the language by growing up with it - the fact that they are still better at it remains unchanged - therefore they should get the higher mark...
    I've known universities who won't accept foreign language A-levels from native speakers anyway.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    I've known universities who won't accept foreign language A-levels from native speakers anyway.
    well there you go - if anything is nonsensical it's that.

    even if they are a native speaker taking the paper - they STILL have more skills than someone who wasn't a native speaker and didn't get as high a grade/mark.

    it's like penalising someone who is just naturally good at mathematics just because s/he didn't need to revise as much as someone else for the same test...

    p.s. im saying this as a non-native speaker of any foreign language that is tested by exam boards
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by riux)
    well there you go - if anything is nonsensical it's that.

    even if they are a native speaker taking the paper - they STILL have more skills than someone who wasn't a native speaker and didn't get as high a grade/mark.

    it's like penalising someone who is just naturally good at mathematics just because s/he didn't need to revise as much as someone else for the same test...

    p.s. im saying this as a non-native speaker of any language that is tested by exam boards (bar English which tests the implication of language more than the actual meaning...)
    But it's all about relative level. There is a reason why English A-level is different to another language A-level, isn't there? The point is that for a native speaker of german the german A-level is not of A-level standard (because the native langauge A-level standard is that of the English A-level). You can't prevent these people from taking the exams so universities stop them from using them as a loophole for entrance.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ChemistBoy)
    But it's all about relative level. There is a reason why English A-level is different to another language A-level, isn't there? The point is that for a native speaker of german the german A-level is not of A-level standard (because the native langauge A-level standard is that of the English A-level). You can't prevent these people from taking the exams so universities stop them from using them as a loophole for entrance.
    but it's not about if 'for a native speaker of german the german A-level is not of A-level standard'.

    it's about (or, sorry, should be about) whether or not the native speaker is better at the german language and therefore has more skills than the non-native speaker...

    i just don't understand why they should be penalised simply because they grew up with the language...
    Offline

    13
    The whole point, Riux is that the German A level paper is designed for those who are not native German speakers.

    If native German speakers were to take an A level paper that was designed for native German speakers, rather than non-native speakers, it might present the same sort of challenge to them as the non-native speaker German paper presents to the non-native speaker candidate.

    I don't know how I can explain this point without putting it in another way...although looking at your profile you do not lack the capacity to understand what I am trying to say.

    OK - non-native speakers of English take a special non-native English paper ie "English as a foreign language".

    Native speaking English students take English Language which is challenging for them because it is of a much higher specification than the "English as a foreign language" paper is.

    Do you understand now why it is unfair for native German speakers to take a paper in German which is designed for non-native German speakers...incidentally the same thing applies to Spanish, Italian and French papers (I don't want you to think that I am picking on one particular nationality here)?
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yawn)
    The whole point, Riux is that the German A level paper is designed for those who are not native German speakers.

    If native German speakers were to take an A level paper that was designed for native German speakers, rather than non-native speakers, it might present the same sort of challenge to them as the non-native speaker German paper presents to the non-native speaker candidate.

    I don't know how I can explain this point without putting it in another way...although looking at your profile you do not lack the capacity to understand what I am trying to say.

    OK - non-native speakers of English take a special non-native English paper ie "English as a foreign language".

    Native speaking English students take English Language which is challenging for them because it is of a much higher specification than the "English as a foreign language" paper is.

    Do you understand now why it is unfair for native German speakers to take a paper in German which is designed for non-native German speakers...incidentally the same thing applies to Spanish, Italian and French papers (I don't want you to think that I am picking on one particular nationality here)?
    I don't see how that is unfair. An A-level in German or any other language is not an extraordinary achievement - the innate skill of a person taking any exam doesn't make the exam 'unfair.' It just means that they are better at the subject than other people.

    If someone had studied history all their life because both their parents were historians, does that make it unfair that they have to take the same exam as the people who didn't study history while they were growing up?
    Offline

    13
    I don't see how that is unfair. An A-level in German or any other language is not an extraordinary achievement - the innate skill of a person taking any exam doesn't make the exam 'unfair.' It just means that they are better at the subject than other people.
    Would you want to go to France and take the equivalent of their year 13 paper in French language (as we do here in English language) bearing in mind that they have been speaking their own language since they were able to first talk, whereas you had only been speaking it since you were 12?

    Or, would you expect to take a French paper that is specifically for those who had only been studying it for a short time in comparison.

    If you don't see a difference and inequality regarding 'level playing fields' I'll bang my head against a brick wall! :banghead:
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Soc)
    It does, if we're claiming that these are the "easier" subjects.

    I think you are missing the point. Cambridge want the most intelligent students, no matter what they study at Cambridge. They believe the subjects in that list of theirs do not provide effective preparation for studying their courses.

    Non-euphemistically, they are easier.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yawn)
    Thanks for that generous comment.

    If we take all the variables into account ie;

    *'criterion' referencing (which tests knowledge rather than comparison with rest of cohort)
    * availability of familiarisation with what needs to be done to achieve a particular grade
    * increased IQ levels
    * teaching focussed to exam performance
    * plentiful practice on past papers
    * school motivation to higher achievement/attainment because of competetive elements of published league tables
    * modular exam system
    * coursework elements
    * resits
    * ethos of higher aspirations of students...

    ...then it is not really that suprising that much greater success is becoming the norm.

    As I said though, we shall eventually plateau, but not yet.

    We won't plateau - the government's current solution is just to offer higher grades (which is not in fact that bad an idea).

    Anyway, I will deal with your factors:

    *'criterion' referencing (which tests knowledge rather than comparison with rest of cohort)

    This is the mechanism by which grade inflation is possible, not the reason for it happening.


    * availability of familiarisation with what needs to be done to achieve a particular grade
    * increased IQ levels
    * teaching focussed to exam performance
    * plentiful practice on past papers
    * school motivation to higher achievement/attainment because of competetive elements of published league tables
    * ethos of higher aspirations of students...


    Basically all of these factors are, the students are just better in exams (by being cleverer, better practiced, more motivated, etc). And that's true. But they aren't that much better.

    * modular exam system
    * coursework elements
    * resits


    These factors support my point! They imply that the same level of work will be given a higher grade than previously!
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by yawn)
    Would you want to go to France and take the equivalent of their year 13 paper in French language (as we do here in English language) bearing in mind that they have been speaking their own language since they were able to first talk, whereas you had only been speaking it since you were 12?

    Or, would you expect to take a French paper that is specifically for those who had only been studying it for a short time in comparison.

    If you don't see a difference and inequality regarding 'level playing fields' I'll bang my head against a brick wall! :banghead:
    Oh - seems I misunderstood. I thought you were talking about bilingual people.

    So, a person who speaks both English and Spanish equally well takes a Spanish A-level in the UK. I didn't think that was unfair.
    Offline

    16
    (Original post by yawn)
    Do you understand now why it is unfair for native German speakers to take a paper in German which is designed for non-native German speakers?
    It's not unfair at all.

    As has been, said both native speakers and non-native speakers sit the same paper, and the score they get will be dependent on their skills as judged by the markscheme for the examination. It is entirely fair in this respect.

    What you are suggesting is that the native German speaker who takes a German A-level gains some sort of unfair advantage over the non-native speaker. I will address the possible sources of unfairness:

    1) The native speaker gets an A-level as well as the non-native speaker, despite the non-native speaker having to work harder.
    - Firstly, the implication that the native speaker will have to work significantly less is not entirely true. Studying literature requires a similar amount of work whether you speak the language fluently or not*
    - Secondly, as someone pointed out earlier, just because I grew up with someone who could teach me maths better than anyone I've known, should I be penalised for being more 'fluent' in mathematics, and thus finding the subject easier? No.
    - Essentially, the mere act of finding the A-level easier is not unfair in itself

    2) The native speaker has not had the benefit of studying as hard, and thus has not developed his academic skills as much, and yet will be judged to have this academic development.
    - Well, this is possibly true, if someone was judging a candidate solely on their A-level grades. Luckily, CVs and UCAS applications include a section called 'Education', which if you are a native speaker of German, would probably list your 7 years at the local Gymnasium right next to your 600/600 A-level in German from your Sixth Form college. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence would realise what was going on. No one's pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. Universities will sniff them out.

    3) And if after all this, you still think that a native speaker has a small advantage, is this really disadvantaging anyone else? Does he prevent a non-native speaker from obtaining an A-level? No. In fact, his presence in a class would certainly be a positive thing for his fellow students.

    The only person I can see losing out is the native speaker who spends a quarter of his time in Sixth Form studying a subject that is not benefitting him at all when he could be studying something else that would be broadening his horizons.

    And finally, if you were to stop native speakers taking the A-level exam, how would you decide who is not allowed to take it? There is a sliding scale of fluency:
    - non-speakers
    - people who have been on holiday to a country with the target language
    - people who have lived a while in a target language country
    - people who have a parent(s) who speaks the language
    - people who have lived for an extended period in the target language country

    Where's the cut-off? Where do I stop being good at/enthusiastic about the language and start being too good to take the exam? The answer is that you cannot define this, and it's just not worth the bother for the few people who are getting a cheap A-level, and will probably be found out later on anyway if they tried to use this to their advantage.


    * Oxford University's French language course admitted an acquaintance of mine, despite her upbringing in east Switzerland, where she learned to speak fluent French. Unfair? Not really. The breadth of literature and depth of grammatical technicalities (which not even born and bred French understand totally) means that she has to work just about as hard as anyone else on the course.
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
Turn on thread page Beta
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: September 13, 2007
Poll
Black Friday: Yay or Nay?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.