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Language GCSEs reformed to appeal to today's pupils

14/04/2015 Joanna
Youngsters are to be encouraged to learn modern languages by focusing on more 'inspiring' topics such as tattoos and music festivals.

Exam board OCR has announced a shake-up of its French, German and Spanish GCSEs, dispensing with 'uninspiring' subjects such as 'ma trousse' (pencil case), and 'le tank top' in favour of more age-appropriate content.

The new draft German GCSE includes a film review of the thriller Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run), while the Spanish GCSE features tweets on the Olympic Games. 

As well as making its content more contemporary, the exam board's new draft GCSE will focus on bringing back skills such as grammar as components of an indispensable language 'toolkit', and putting science and fun into vocabulary learning.

The emphasis on the development of linguistic skills will be inspired by English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching, which has enjoyed substantial global success.

Katherine Smith, who is leading on modern foreign language GCSE and A level reforms at OCR, said: "This entails moving away from working too long on a cliched topic until a student is bored with it to working on more appealing subjects, and with an all-important shift in emphasis on the skills that they can transfer across content."

The change reflects concerns voiced by teachers, employers and universities that the focus on topics is leading to a disappearance of skills. 

These neglected skills include grammatical structures such as tenses, connectives, asking and answering questions and infinitive constructions, which can be learned frequently and revisited throughout the new course.

Other techniques imported from EFL include reading methods such as skimming and scanning, as well as speaking and conversing skills such as asking speakers to repeat themselves.

Inflexible vocabulary lists will also be ditched and replaced by a new app called Memrise, enabling pupils to spend a few minutes a day learning words.

Short extracts from foreign literature will feature in OCR's GCSEs for the first time, at the request of the Department for Education. 

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801783468-ADNFCR
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