independent schools’ modern languages association ?· chairman’s message on the page opposite...

Download Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association ?· Chairman’s message on the page opposite by…

Post on 15-Feb-2019




0 download

Embed Size (px)


ISMLAISMLA NEWS L E T T ERN EWS L E T T ER Independent Schools Modern Languages AssociationIndependent Schools Modern Languages Association

No.47 Autumn 2009

activities check course department

development exchange foreign french gcse german head host

language learning level modules online order programme project

pupils school students study

teachers teaching textbook texts work year


Chairman Nick Mair, Dulwich College Tel: 020 8693 3601 Vice Chairman and Membership Secretary Geoffrey Plow, University College School Tel: 020 7433 2302 Treasurer Peter Ansell, Stonyhurst College Tel: 01254 826345 Secretary Jenny Davey, Glenalmond College uk Liaison with prep schools Gillian Forte. St Christophers School, Hove Tel: 01273 735404 Exhibitions Organiser David Cragg-James Newsletter Editor Peter Langdale, North London Collegiate School Tel: 020 8952 0912 Reviews Editor Patrick Le Berre, Highgate School Tel: 020 8340 1524 uk Website Editor Thomas Underwood, University College School Tel: 020 7435 2215

Liaison with ALL, ISMLA representative on Executive Council Kevin Dunne, Ampleforth College Tel: 01439 766000 ISMLA Representative on AQA consultative committee Patrick Thom, The Manchester Grammar School Tel: 0161 2247201 Regional Co-ordinator (East) Julia Whyte, St Francis' College Tel: 01462 670511 Other members Astrid McAuliffe, Colfe's School (Responsibility for German) Tel: 020 8852 2283 Helena Gonzalez, Mount St. Mary's College (Responsibility for Spanish) Tel: 01246 433388 Duncan Byrne, Haberdashers Askes Boys School Tel: 020 8266 1787 Alex Frazer, Hampton School Tel: 020 8979 5526 Richard Oates, Sherborne School Tel: 01935 812249

Contact the Committee



From the Chairman Page 4

From the Editor Goodbye to all that? Page 6

Helen Wright To (I)GCSE or not to (I)GCSE ... is this the

question? Page 9

Duncan Byrne School exchanges under threat? Page 13

Mark Beet Language Exchanges . Why carry on? Page 15

Lydia Morey Japanese and Chinese in UK Schools Page 19

Arnd Witte Schule im Wandel Page 21

Nicholas Harrison E-Learning in Action Page 24

Teresa Rodrguez Reconocimiento Institucional a Las

Brigadas Internacionales Page 26

Announcements Page 28

Practical Ideas Page 30

Reviews Page 31


But back to where I started. The new AS results have not emerged without causing some consternation. Many teachers have contacted us to say that they can see no reason for the disappointing grades awarded to good linguists who, in other years, would have performed well. Quite what has occurred is difficult to fathom. Have teachers misunder-stood the new requirements? Has marking been erratic? Are exam boards scared of grade inflation?

ISMLA, in conjunction with ALL-London, has set up an online survey and would welcome information from as many schools as possible. We are keen that schools with better than expected results should also contrib-ute and that this should not be seen as an exam-board-bashing exercise. Results will be made available to participating schools and, should they wish it, exam boards. Whatever may have happened, we hope you will support any initiative that helps pupils receive appropriate grades. The link to the survey can be found on the ISMLA website. Please take part.

On a brighter note, as pupils prepare UCAS applications we would like to suggest those taking a gap year consider the excellent Anglo-Omani and Prime Ministers Global Fellow-ship schemes, links to which can be found on the ISMLA website. May your specification be with you. Nick Mair

You may expect me to start with the new AS/A2 exam results, but I think that there is something else looming large in the world of modern lan-guages.

Significant changes were proposed by QCA in the Modern Languages National Curriculum Level Descrip-tors which apply across KS2 and KS3 (not to be confused with the recently published non-statutory framework). ISMLA members and other modern language teachers have responded, raising their concerns about these changes in an online consultation which finished on 24th July 1.

But what were these concerns? The proposal was to combine the four separate skills (Listening/Reading / Speaking/Writing) into two mega-skills (Speaking and Listening, Writ-ing and Reading) and to add a third called Intercultural Understanding. Remember that these are the skills to be assessed and, later, examined.

Why worry? Are we not all commit-ted to Intercultural Understanding? Indeed we are (even if did disappear from A level) but this version of Intercultural Understanding is re-garded by the government as com-prising two distinct strands one is a concept of social cohesion, the other the avoidance of violent ex-tremism (or, more pithily, terror-ism). ISMLA encourages you to ex-press your reservation to QCA re the proposed changes to come into force. Quelle machine infernale! .

From the Chairman


1 QCA's deadline to submit their report with all analyses of consultation data is the end of September. DCSF will then decide when to publish. In the

case of the Level Descriptors consultation the report will definitely be pub-

lished, as this was a Section 96 consultation (relating to statutory orders).

We very much hope that QCA will respond to the major concerns raised.

You can participate in the survey regarding the AS results mentioned in the

Chairmans message on the page opposite by going to the ISMLA website:

The ISMLA website is now an integral part of what the association offers its members. On it you can find:

Announcements Factsheets Back numbers of the Newsletter in .pdf form Reviews Materials from the last conference Committee and membership lists How to join Links to other bodies ... and much more.

If you have any suggestions or material for inclusion, the Website Editor,

Tom Underwood, will be happy to hear from you.


Goodbye to All That?

As the 2009 A level exam session came to a close this year, I was hit by a simple and blinding revelation. I had taught my very last set text. Ever since I started teaching, one of the most challenging and rewarding part of my work has been the de-tailed study of literary texts in the Sixth Form.

So I put away my files on Racine (Andromaque, Phdre, Britannicus), Moliere (Tartuffe, LAvare, lEcole des Femmes), Rimbaud (Posies), Primo Levi (Se questo un uomo) and Pirandello (Sei personaggi in cerca dautore), to name but a few, and said goodbye to preparing stu-dents for demanding questions on theme, style and characterisation.

From now on (with the exception of the Welsh and Northern Irish) we can expect from exam boards gener-alised questions such as these, taken from the French Specimen Papers:

valuez le rle et limportance dun personnage dans le livre, le film ou la pice que vous avez choisi/choisie. Lauteur/le metteur en scne a-t-il fait un bon portrait de ce personnage? Justifiez votre rponse. (Edexcel Research-Based Essay, 240-270 words !)

Choisissez un livre/une collection de contes et analysez ce que lau-teur invite le lecteur/la lectrice

considrer en ce qui concerne les rapports personnels. (AQA Cul-tural Topics, Luvre dun auteur franais, minimum 250 words)

OCRs new syllabus contains no dis-cernable invitation to detailed study of literary text at all, and I look for-ward to admiring the ingenuity of question setters in coming up with original questions in the years to come.

For many decades students were asked to reflect and write about sin-gle texts in English, but then the new orthodoxy of the 1990s required them to write about them in the target language. I recall the con-cerns at the time as to whether this would lead to a dilution of the intel-lectual content of courses and in-deed one distinguished colleague was so disillusioned by the move that he abandoned modern language teaching altogether and was wel-comed with open arms by a grateful English department. Personally, I came to terms with the new pre-scription largely because my own students responded admirably and the very best of them were able to write about literary matters in French or Italian with great aplomb.

What all this reflects is the major shift in the last 15 to 20 years in what our subject actually is. If I think back to why I and my contem-poraries of the 1970s chose to read Modern Languages at University, it was for the most part in order to

From the Editor


modern language courses as they will not for the most part have ac-quired the necessary critical skills at A level under the new language syl-labuses. Some of these concerns certainly emerged in the survey of students at University contained in the last edition (No. 46).

The central question is whether the study of literary texts in the lan-guages we teach is central enough to be pursued in our schools. The answer is undoubtedly yes. The writ-ings of writers and


View more >