I have been thinking today about a recent letter in The Times. The correspondent lamented the fact that there is a proposal to drop the oral elements of GCSE modern language exams. I hope not AL as well, although as there are so few candidates studying languages to that level, perhaps my concerns belong in cloud cuckoo land. I reflected on the many years I spent working for Edexcel as an AL German oral examiner. I was both a visiting examiner, going to schools to conduct the oral tests, and also a marker, where I listened to exams conducted by the teachers, and made my assessment. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it hugely, and eventually became Principal Examiner for the oral units. I feel that the ability to speak and understand a language is absolutely essential. When I took O Level, there was an oral element but it did not count for much. My spoken German was always better than my spoken French, because I took part in a German exchange but not a French one. These activities are also now almost non existent, killed off by health and safety considerations I am told. The pupils who are currently back in school before the holidays begin (Y10’s) are only studying Maths, English and Science. “Peripheral subjects” like art, music and languages are taking a back seat. Another casualty of lockdown then.
Today’s activity was online Pilates, and a trip to the park with Yannis wielding a tennis racquet. The keep fit equipment is also now freed from its tape and he was very keen to use it and also got me on to the cycling machine. I think we were an unlikely pair and seemed to amuse a couple of guys who were doing some really serious training.
And finally……………….I would like to share with you a photo from a friend, which shows how very seriously the Parisians are taking social distancing: anyone for a teddy bears’ picnic?