Modern Language Learning & # 39; under threat of solid exams & # 39; | Education


The exams regulator in England, Octaval, is "killing off" modern languages ​​by failing to transform the excessive difficulty of language GCSE and A level exams, according to more than 150 academics.

In a letter published in the Guardian, the 152 academics – from 36 universities – warn that the exams are graded too severely and the pressure for pupils is "disproportionate".

"They will have to endure very difficult exams and accept that their opinion may be end-to-end," says the letter. "Where is the incentive to choose a language if you are systematically made to feel missed?"

In England's past 15 years, UK GCSEs entries have fallen by 48%, down 65% and down French by 62%. The coup was quickly passed after 2004, when these languages ​​were made non-compulsory subjects at Gxe.

The introduction of the English BackArabate (EBack) in 2010, a group of more traditional subjects at Gxe that includes a compulsory language, was meant to help the decline in languages. The government wants 75% of its students to adopt a modern GCSE language by 2022.


But after an improvement over the introduction of the introduction, the proportion of GCSE language teachers has dropped to 46% in 2018 over the past two years. Overall, only 5.5% of GCSE UK entries in 2018 were a modern foreign language (MFL), according to the Joint Council for Qualifications.

At A-level, the situation is even stronger, declining more than one-third in French and 45% in Germany since 2010. As a result, the number went on to study university languages ​​in the UK also fell 12% since 2013 , Causing growing numbers of universities to cut back or even scrap language degrees.

Part of the reason for these declines is both the difficulty of languages ​​compared to other subjects and many experts believe is solid marking. This means that in the GCSE sphere, the journal has moved virtually more strongly than other Apple causes. And the introduction of new GCSEs has made the problem worse.


As a result, GCSE languages ​​are increasingly elite subjects, said Susan Gram, a professor of language and education at reading university. "GCSE Modern Foreign Language Entities tend to be highest in independent, selective schools and converter academies, and lowest in schools into more challenging economic circumstances and those with lower levels of achievement overall," she said. "Low pharmacy of languages ​​is especially acute among those of more economically disadvantaged backgrounds or those with special educational needs."

And a third of England's schools allow children to appreciate the languages ​​of the year nine, according to the figures of the Jewish language trends survey.

"The causal link between the problems and falling numbers is a non-brainer," said Katrin Koch, a German professor at the University of Oxford. "If the exams make students race through too many hard texts and do too many tasks at the time available, and the grades are lower than those in other subjects, that ultimately negatively affects every aspect of their teacher experience and Competence like Linguistics. "

But the letter Signatories – all language specialists – say the link between difficulty and the decline in student learning languages ​​is ignored.

Despite clarifying "the potential to remind grades severity to emphasize the budget confidence" of the language A levels, Okkwal decided in November 2018 there is no "sufficient compelling case" to change the boundary boundaries to make languages ​​more comparable with other subjects.

"Okquam is killing off the subject in schools and universities by ignoring the evidence," the letter said. "Exams that are in some cases more difficult than first-year university language exams; rigorous and unreliable grading; and Assistance statistics that take inadequate account of native speaker participation – have long been critical in driving demoralized learners and subject teachers. "

The 152 letter-to-letter signatures call Offkwal to take action in French, German and Spanish Gxs. "This time, Ovalval must hear," the letter states. "We … call on outcom to urgently adjust degree boundaries and implement proper quality control for mfl exs. No rescue mission can otherwise keep learners voting with their feet.

Lady Kussins, the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, said the issue needed to be eliminated urgently. "The government has shown repeatable support for languages ​​in some of its policies, such as the EBACK and primary school languages, but unfair marking is a goal that all but guarantees the government will fail to reach its own mfile Targets.

French graph

Suzanne O & # 39; Farrell, a modern language consultant for the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We do not have confidence in the grading or MFL at GCSE while this harsh grading exists.

"A student should have the right to expect them to be judged more harshly in languages ​​than in other subjects."

Offline spokeswoman said his primary responsibility was to ensure that standards were placed year-round and between exam boards. "We take serious concerns expressed by subject experts and are now conducting a comprehensive review of the grading standards in GSSE French, German and Spanish," she said.


"We see statistical results, contextual data, including the numbers that take up the subjects, and the quality of students looking at how Gxe grades relate to the common European framework of reference for languages ​​(Sephr) to see if It is compelling case for an adjustment to grading standards in subjects. We are talking to subject experts and we welcome ideas and contributions. We are right to report on this work in the fall. "

A Department of Education spokesperson said: "Giving more young people the opportunity to teach foreign languages ​​help broaden their horizons and will ensure the country remains an outward soup, global nation. Therefore, we have made the study of a modern or ancient foreign language In the 2014 National Curriculum for Primary Schools and in which we have included languages ​​in the English Backgammon Performance Measure.

"Since 2010, when we introduced the English Bachelor's degree, the proportion of children taking a language in GCSE has risen from 40% to 46% by 2018. We are determined to see this rise further, and ensuring students become interested in languages. Of primary school will help achieve this. "

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