Janine Turner, NCELP Resource Developer for German, shares her thoughts on how the NCELP approach promotes a ‘refreshing change’ in the way we teach languages.
I joined NCELP earlier this year, in the role of German Resource Developer and I spent – the summer of 2022 – understanding the rationale behind the NCELP curriculum. I have discovered how to profile texts according to word frequency, – this is something that I have never done in all my years of teaching German – I have researched current and historical themes relating to German-speaking culture, I have created reading texts for the new GCSE content, and assisted in the production of clever and thought-provoking lesson resources to use in the classroom.
It was a full summer! And I really enjoyed myself. Throughout my time at NCELP I have felt supported and, despite working remotely, I have felt part of a mutually supportive team.
Most importantly, the last few months have reinforced my initial instinct about the NCELP curriculum; that its unique features will help and promote the cause of excellent teaching and learning in Languages – thus helping and promoting the uptake of German in UK schools.
I have taught German, French, and Spanish in British schools for forty years. I have lived through changing tides of pedagogy, known Languages for All, seen Languages drop to non-compulsory status, and encouraged my students to apply for EU-funded grants to explore the countries of origin of their chosen Languages. I have also recognised how strong an influence the curriculum and examination structure can have upon the choices my students make.
When I chose German as one of my options at school, I was taught by vivacious Miss Hinde, whose love-affair with German was very clear in our all-girl class. We had a traditional textbook, we must have talked in German in our lessons, although I cannot recall any “oral practice” as such. Then came the exam day, no Miss Hinde for our German oral exam, just a visiting examiner, who turned out to be a man. I remember going into a room and talking with him non-stop for 15 minutes – on anything and everything.
In 2022, this is what we want to happen in our GCSE speaking exams. Somewhere along the line, our national curriculum and exam board requirements have required us to set up a different model, whereby our pupils learn to say things by heart and are “frozen” about speaking spontaneously. For years, I ran German drama clubs, where we did learn lines of plays and sketches by heart, so I know that rote learning has its place, however, we all know that we would like our learners to chat, not recite.
Now I have experienced how the unique features of the NCELP curriculum may be able to promote a refreshing change in the way we teach Languages. Revisiting words systematically, providing culture-rich texts, building in speaking interaction in a meaningful way, and processing grammar systematically, will all enhance enjoyment and lend direction to the language learning process.
Language learners and Language-lovers inevitably develop empathy. I truly believe that the NCELP route will help nurture confident communicators, who want to understand how other nations of the world think and live.