Isn't this kind of proof that the language teaching system is flawed?

Isn't this kind of proof that the language teaching system is flawed? Topic: Isn't this kind of proof that the language teaching system is flawed?
April 19, 2019 / By Verity
Question: At my school, you have to take both French and Spanish, it's required. You start taking Spanish in the 5th grade and you start taking French in the 7th grade but it isn't a full-time thing, you just have a few classes a week. Anyway, I know this girl who lived in Mexico for around 5 years and just moved back in the 7th grade and came to our school. She speaks Spanish fluently and doesn't have an accent or anything but still she doesn't get above an 80% on any of the Spanish tests. Another friend, a girl who was born in and lived in France up until the 4th grade, didn't even speak a word of English before that, doesn't get above 80% on French tests either. I know these people well, they consider English to be their second language (despite English being the "Mexican" girl's native language, she considers it her second) and I can notice spelling and grammatical mistakes they make as well as their accents are sometimes a little off. They both went to elite schools in Mexico and France and were in AP classes in French and Spanish there. I mean, I could probably get by if someone dropped me off in Mexico and maybe even France but I am nowhere near a native speaker. Like 20% of the class still scores above 80%. Isn't this proof that the system is flawed?
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Best Answers: Isn't this kind of proof that the language teaching system is flawed?

Septima Septima | 7 days ago
The teaching system is flawed in many ways for many students. You may have come across things like "Multiple Intelligence Tests" or "Different Learning Styles" which basically say that every teaching method has a different rate of efficiency for every student. In other words, people learn differently and they also learn at their own pace. But like most other institutions, schools do not have the resources to cater to every individual student's needs. With that said, they often go with the system that benefits as many pupils as possible, and then make considerations whenever possible/practical. That's the basic gist of it. In regards to your Mexican and French friends, I've also encountered the same situation. Most people think that being a native speaker of a language guarantees you to excel in a language class outside the country. But as many people have found out, this is not always the case. I have two friends who speak French fluently and were enrolled in the same advanced French class as me in a Canadian high school (not in Québec). Both of them grew up outside Canada, speaking French in school, at home and in everyday life because it was the official language in both their native countries. Yet they did not do as well as expected in French class. They still got relatively high marks, but many people who could not speak/understand even a fraction of French that those two could got higher marks than them. Why? Because native speakers know too much and because they didn't learn their language the same way others did. At my school, for example, we learned the French verbs that use "être" as an auxiliary in the past tense using the acronym "DR. MRS. VANDERTRAMP". Both of my French friends had never heard of it before since they knew the "être" verbs naturally. So when the class is asked to list down the verbs in DR MRS VANDERTRAMP, it would be like asking a native English speaker to list down all the English verbs that have an irregular past tense. You would know how to use and recognize them, but you probably wouldn't be able to list them all off the top of your head like song lyrics. Many native English speakers cannot even tell you the difference between "present simple", "present progressive", "present perfect" and "present perfect progressive" tenses. Another issue was translation. Say you finished a lesson on a certain verb tense, and for homework, you had to apply that tense in various sentence translations. If you are competent in more than one language, you have probably come across an instance of having more than one way to translate something from one language into another. Although second language students aren't usually aware of this, native speakers are, and often become confused as to what the teacher wants and what they know is the most correct answer. Then you have the teachers. Many language teachers (especially those who teach language outside of universities) are not native speakers of the language they teach. That being said, they often find it hard to adjust their style to suit native speakers, because the way they teach is the way they themselves were taught, and it is often the only way they know. Second-language speakers and teachers also may not know the different nuances in meaning between similar sentences that native speakers can point out with ease, and this can cause some issues again in regards to what is the most correct answer.
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Septima Originally Answered: Should the public school system be teaching children not to fall for scams like homeopathy and astrology?
No, we should be teaching them how to think and come to their own judgement. These might be good case studies where children can research the evidence, learn what reputable evidence is, apply reasoning skills, and maybe learn to make decisions on facts not feelings. But that will not happen. Heck we still have people trying to discredit natural selection based only on their faith, not the available evidence.

Olivia Olivia
Nope. It could be a sign that your teachers are flawed. Or that your friends didn't learn their languages properly in the native countries. Cause, you know, most Spanish and French teachers insist on your knowing the languages from all countries, and properly spelled, and someone who only lived in France until the age of 10 probably didn't get the spelling quite down, and possibly makes many errors in spelling. Cause French spelling is TOUGH! And they don't really teach Spanish spelling well in much of Mexico. So, she might be losing a lot of points on spelling, too. Also, it's possible that your teachers either don't know how to adjust for speakers of different regions than where they learned, OR, they are expecting more of these students, knowing that they are capable of more. They could not have been in "AP" classes in France and Mexico...AP is an American series of courses that are administered by Princeton University, and that are designed for High School students to earn University credit. I doubt very much that elementary students in foreign countries are given those courses. No. I don't think this is proof that your school's system, or any other system is failing. Proof that the system is flawed would be if your whole class, after completing the equivalent of three years of high school, went to Spain, and couldn't hold a conversation after about a month of living there. If you think you could "get by" at your level, you're proof that the system is working. Also, you don't say if you know, and you don't have the expertise to know if they are doing this without being conscious of it, but your two friends, assuming they shouldn't have to work hard at learning their "own" languages, could very well allow themselves to slip, not studying hard enough, and not learning the material they are supposed to. Again, the teachers aren't letting them off, expecting them to work up to THEIR OWN potential, rather than to the potential of people learning the languages from scratch. THAT is the mark of a GOOD teacher.
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Madonna Madonna
All teaching systems are flawed especially languages since you're learning it out of a book. Language is best learned by submersion (moving to France). You're probably tested on rules and proper grammer, they usually wouldn't know that since French and Spanish is natural to both.
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Keren-Happuch Keren-Happuch
It's proof that your school is flawed. The classes are designed for English speakers learning French and Spanish, not for native speakers of those languages. Those people should be exempt from these classes.
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Jackaline Jackaline
OMG i totally agree I think if a school is going to force you a language they should at least have people who actually speak the language. Just like at my school they force you to take at least 1 (Spanish, French or german.) And I am in french and we have a girl who came to our school from france to help with the class and shes like 20 or something and are teacher is constantly saying stuff and many times during class the girl has to correct her or sometimes she doesn't even understand her french so yeah i agree with you!!! Pretty much what I'm saying is they should have professionals not just people who took the language in High School and college.
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Elva Elva
i dont really see how. maybe theyre just poor test takers. you never really said if the tests were scantron or if they are oral. I believe that teachers need to focus more on how the kids can pronounce the words and whether or not they are able to actually have a conversation in the language that they are learning. But spelling is also important. Anyways, yeah. Maybe they just suck at taking tests. or are lazy and dont really care for that class. or even possibly your teacher hates your friends haha
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Elva Originally Answered: Has the school system turned into one huge social caste system and completely failing itself?
As a high school teacher, I know exactly what you mean. Of course there are exceptions, but many kids really don't care about their own education half as much as they care about the things you listed above. Of course, to a degree, this is completely normal, right? Yet, even though we thought about all of those things when I was in high school, my friends and I still focused on our grades or we knew we'd have hell to pay at home! You wouldn't believe the number of kids in each of my classes who don't do any homework at all, and then I have to explain to parents why they aren't passing. Even worse, some teachers have decided not to even assign homework, since kids don't do it anymore! It is very frustrating. Oh, and the other poster made a great point... technology is great, but a huge detriment to kids for the same reasons she mentioned. My department made a policy to collect all cell phones as the kids walked through the door, and to put them in a basket on our desks. Even with a school-wide policy stating there is no cell phone use in the classroom, kids were CONSTANTLY hiding them under their desks, in their bookbags, behind books, etc., so they could sit there and text their buddies a couple of doors down instead of listening to their teachers. Absolutely crazy! To answer your actual question, I don't think uniforms will help much. Kids are very much individuals, and would find ways to put their own spins on them, I think. Besides, they'd only resent us more for making them wear them, and they'd still stick to their own little cliques, etc. Then again, I could be wrong... I've never taught in a school that had them. I see the benefits too, and now that I think about it, I'd love to see firsthand if they did indeed help with any of these issues. I love teaching kids... but the job just keeps getting harder. :)
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