Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Ecouter et répéter

I was going to write an entry at length about why I am fully in favour of the removal of GCSE MFL oral exams, which has been in the news recently; thankfully, this article from The Telegraph pretty much says everything I was going to argue, so if you want to know why I am fully in favour of the change to oral assessment (or indeed are interested as to the theory behind the change) then I urge you to read that.

I will say this though: we had a day on my PGCE course a couple of weeks ago where we worked with the Chief Examiner of English for the AQA exam board, John Nield. Basically he had a wealth of experience behind him, talked an inordinately large amount of sense, and gave me a little more faith in the people who set the exams that at times seem to govern everything a teacher does. His emphasis was very much on teaching skills, rather than "teaching to the exam", which was comforting to hear. One thing that he suggested, which I immediately thought of when reading about the change to MFL orals, was to not assess the 'Speaking & Listening' part of the English National Curriculum through a predetermined and artificial presentation or some other activity involving talk. He emphasised how these situations rarely benefit the pupils, which I was inclined to agree with. He suggested instead that, should a pupil perform well during one lesson in a speaking and listening context, assess them for that through that lesson. Even if you see them speaking and listening outside of a class, you can still use that to assess their speaking and listening skills. It was one of the most sensible suggestions I've heard on the course so far.

On an almost completely unrelated note - it does involve language, although the profane variety specifically - George brought this story about vulgarities included on a restaurant bill to my attention and it made me chuckle. At least according to the bill they weren't charged for the insult.

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