The days of walking past a French classroom and hearing children reciting “où est la plage?” (where is the beach?) and “quelle age as-tu?” (What age are you?) might all be a thing of the past. The OCR, one of the UK’s leading exam boards believes that these phrases are outdated and no longer apply to the current generation. So they have decided to rewrite the GCSE language phrase book with questions and phrases that are more relevant.
The BBC reports that instead of learning how to ask “ou est la bibliotheque?” (where is the library?), children will be encouraged to talk about tattoos, music festivals and other topics that are seen as more relevant in their German, Spanish and French GCSE lessons. “Students aren’t going to go meet up with someone in a café in Paris and discuss their entire family” a teacher told the OCR exam board. But are they right?
It is proposed that this will be implemented next year, kicking out the out-dated phrases such as “il y a toutes de belles chose dans les vitrines!” (there are many beautiful things in the shop windows!) not a saying you here many 15-16 year olds saying and replacing them with phrases such as “A mon auis un tatouge discret est une expression de ta personnalite” (in my opinion a discreet tattoo is an expression of your personality).
This overhaul comes at a time student numbers for modern languages has never been lower. The Guardian reports that statistics are showing the number of British Universities offering French degrees has fallen by a total of 40% since 1998, and halved for German degrees. It has been revealed that the new curriculum could ask German students to complete a film review of Lola Rennt (Run Lola run), whilst the new Spanish course includes tweets on the Olympics. Katherine Smith, in charge of the new education board believes that this allows the language lessons to move away from the old clichés.
But where will this leave our modern language teachers? Should children need to have the ability to converse about tattoos and rap to pass their GCSE tests? The main concerns for teachers will be the changing curriculum. How much will this add to their already excessive workload? Let us know what you think…