School English lessons increasingly frustrating

116 posts in this topic

'As far as I know my daughter will have this teacher until she finishes school.'

 

That's the first thing I would check. With us Class 10 is now (since Abi in 12yrs) a bridging class to the Oberstufe. Jahrgang 11 is a whole new world of courses, not classes, the staff are all re-jigged, and pretty much everything has changed from last year. Your school may be entirely different.

 

If your daughter is confident in her own use of language, then there is probably no point arguing - the weight of experience which I have read here on TT leads to this conclusion. Teachers do mark the Abitur, but as I understand it, and someone like Westvan whose kids have done it recently would be able to comment more accurately here, by then these types of exercises are well in the past, and the youngsters are writing essays on complicated topics.

 

I must say, I have openly expected my kids to be good at English, and have only given the warning that sometimes they mis-pronounce because they all read widely and sometimes they add a word to their vocabularies without ever having heard it said, which can be hilarious. I have presented my native speakers as an asset to the class, and offered to send in extra work if they get bored or cheeky. And then we get moments like this one...

 

 

Today's laugh in our house - kid#2 had himself a 1 in English last week because he told the story of the Boston Tea Party to his (Hauptschule) class. His source - the Beano - has the colonialists sending an undercover ship to India to fetch their own tea, and it got sunk on the way back. He did get the bit about the taxes...

 

 

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Go talk to the teacher and take that exercise with you. She won't bite.

 

You don't need to make her wrong - just help her.

 

If she resists, go above her head.

 

I agree. Don't let your child be the 'heavy'.

 

When I tutored a teen in Germany, I saw multiple mistakes by the teacher in both English and Spanish. He looked terrified, saying "I can't tell her!" And if we'd corrected the answers, she would have marked him wrong. <_< Teachers, probably particularly German ones :P, don't like to be told they're wrong. Tread lightly.

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She might not bite me, but she might get even more annoyed with having my daughter in the class. I think I might mention something this time, though, as I really would like to remind her to check the answers to the tests she gives! Trouble is I'll have to say why her answers are wrong and that's not that easy to explain: just "I know because I'm English" will not impress her.

 

I missed the last parents' evening, but someone else just gave me the notes they took during the discussion and it says they are keeping the English teacher "despite the criticism", so evidently I'm not the only one who's not keen.

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To be fair to the teacher, the answer key might be wrong. There have been many times I have seen answers from textbooks here that blatantly wrong, I know several of my colleagues have had me look at tests because the given answer "sounds odd" and more than 70% of the time in those cases, it was the answer key that was wrong. That is why I always read through the answer key before grading something with it, but her English might not be good enough to do that. Trust me, there are some English teachers with not great English because it has been awhile since they learnt it and they don't practice it outside of school.

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I'd try talking to the headmaster about changing classes and about this teacher in particular. If she's very defensive it's most likely she knows that her English is not as good as it should be.

Will your daughter change to Oberstufe and course-system next year?

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Go and see the teacher...

 

Suggest that she uses your daughter as a "stooge" for example...

 

Get her to bounce the ideas off your daughter and "use her to the teachers advantage"...

 

Confrontation would probably only make it worse!

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Or just play by their rules and get her through school, since you'd probably end up fighting a losing battle. You know her English is better anyway. I've also seen textbooks with wrong answers, even wrong words in the tasks. When I did Nachhilfe, I used to pencil in correct answers in the kids' exercise books, just for fun. Never heard anything back though. I recently went to the teacher fair Didacta, received a free copy of a new German - English primary school dictionary that was full of basic vocabulary mistakes and subsequently wrote to the publisher, pointing them out. They wrote back with thanks :lol:

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The problem with taking that tack is that if this teacher does mark the child's Abi exams, the child could well end up with a lower mark as a result. Friends of mine have had kids in this position and it has never ended well. It's incredibly frustrating and discouraging for the child and for the parents, who can do nothing to help (short of getting them into another class or sending them to another school).

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That's the first thing I would check. With us Class 10 is now (since Abi in 12yrs) a bridging class to the Oberstufe. Jahrgang 11 is a whole new world of courses, not classes, the staff are all re-jigged, and pretty much everything has changed from last year.

 

Same with the school our younger son attends. He is in grade 11 at a G8 Gymnasium and grades 9 and 10 were the Qualifikationsphase. 11 and 12 are the Oberstufe and he has completely different teachers this year. In English class they are pretty much done with grammar exercises and instead read and analyze novels, short stories, texts etc and are expected to be able write well-structured essays.

 

I have to admit I don't know much about how the Abitur exams are marked but Wikipedia explains the Zentralabitur. Looks like the exams are marked by chosen teachers from the school and then anonymized and sent on to be marked a second and third time somewhere else.

 

As for being frustrated about English class, I think sometimes it is better to just tough it out BUT I would perhaps talk to the teacher about the errors mentioned because it's clear that she has not grasped the grammar concept that was being presented. Do you know how the other kids scored on those particular questions? It's unfortunate that she seems to feel threatended by having a native speaker in the class. We didn't really experience that and my kids were seen more as allies and helpers.

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Hmmm, perhaps the different Länder education systems might be influencing the different experiences described ...

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To be fair to the teacher, the answer key might be wrong. There have been many times I have seen answers from textbooks here that blatantly wrong, I know several of my colleagues have had me look at tests because the given answer "sounds odd" and more than 70% of the time in those cases, it was the answer key that was wrong...

 

This is certainly the case with most German books I have. I'm not big on studying languages, I'd rather just "absorb" them. I've lived in Germany for nearly 5 years this time (4 years in the military before) and I've absorbed a lot that really needs to be polished. It seems that every time I bring myself to look up a rule or learn something specific, I can't go 5 minutes without stumbling across something that just isn't right--usually just a sample sentence, sometimes the explanations themselves. Filled with self-doubt, I ask my wife if it's right and she just looks at me like I'm crazy and says, "you know that's wrong!" Then I explain that it's an example from the book and show her and she can't believe it. This happens so often that I worry about all the mistakes that I don't recognize which means I'm learning it wrong.

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If I were you I would go and talk to the teacher, extremely politely asking her to show the key. I would also take some good grammar book with me (the samples above are excellent too, but a book has more authority). Again very politely I would try to make the teacher understand that I know what I am talking about.

 

All this because unfortunately as far as I know the teachers in the Oberstufe do mark the Abitur exams themselves and having a teacher like this makes is virtually impossible to get the mark your daughter obviously deserves.

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The second is wrong in this case because the rule for allow is "verb + gerund" OR "verb + PERSON + to-infinitive"

My mother doesn't allow reading at the table during breakfast.

My mother doesn't allow me to read the table during breakfast.

 

Thanks clickety6, that is a nice simple explanation. I was concentrating too much on how to explain it in German, and there isn't an equivalent for these two examples that makes the difference clear.

 

Hm, so far the books they use have been OK, but this is a photocopy so maybe it comes from a rubbish one. That might be a good way to start the conversation, anyway!

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My daughter is now in Year 10 at school and she showed me an exercise they went over in class today. The children had to choose whether to use the infinitive (to do) or the gerund (doing). Out of 12 examples the teacher corrected her on three:

 

Are you allowed to go to the cinema tonight? --> changed to "going"

I meant to mention it to Mum last night. --> changed to "mentioning"

I remember talking about it, but I forgot to put the date in my diary. --> changed to "putting"

 

In all three cases the teacher's answer is incorrect. The exercise is a photocopy from a textbook, so I can only assume that either she does not have the key, or she did not bother to check it. My daughter tried to explain her choices, but the teacher did not listen to the explanation. In the last case, for example, the teacher "explained" to her that you mean you can't remember the activity of putting the date in your diary (in which case, however, "forget" would be in the present tense in British English, the language used in the book).

 

Examples like this make me wonder what, if anything, my daughter is getting out of English lessons. What a waste of time. I don't expect the teacher to know all the answers, but I do expect her to have/use the keys to exercises - and ideally I would like her to at least spend a moment thinking about my daughter's suggestions, knowing as she does that she's grown up with English. This is a school with a languages profile, which I chose specially because I thought it would be good for my daughter, who likes languages. But the teacher is extremely defensive and up tight about having her in the class, so can't relax enough to admit she might ever be wrong.

 

As far as I know my daughter will have this teacher until she finishes school. (Will this teacher even mark the Abitur exams or do they do that externally, does anyone know?) I've only spoken to the teacher at a parents' evening once, during which I tried to make her feel better about having a native speaker there, saying that I didn't expect my daughter to get top marks or to know it all better. I'd feel very uncomfortable now telling her to check her answers better - and it would hardly make things easier for my daughter. What action wouuld others take in this situation?

 

 

 

My daughter just did her Abitur this year, and we never had any problems in the higher grades. Only once or twice in the lower grades, where she lost points for writing American English instead of British English. For example "He has got brown hair. In AE, we'd leave out the "got".

 

We did have a few humorous incidents though, like her fourth grade teacher reading a story about the beer in the woods That teacher was really nice, and even chuckled when my daughter pointed out that she probably meant a bear, not "beer".

 

This kind of stuff is why I originally was going to speak Spanish to my kids.

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