FRI: ¡Escúchame! GCSE Spanish Audios (Sonia Pardos)
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16 January 2019
Language learning in mainstream schools focuses on developing four different skills, reading, writing, listening and speaking. These four skills that students develop during their lessons are the same skills that languages teachers use to assess their students’ progress; the same skills that GCSE examining boards use to set their exams.
In England, teaching a modern language in primary schools became compulsory in 2014. Meantime, most schools in the UK teach at least one foreign language at secondary level. A document named Language teaching in schools (Long and Danechi, 2018) states that by September 2022 75% of Year 10 pupils would have taken a GCSE in a modern foreign language, following Government plans released in December 2018.
Meanwhile figures show that the number of students taking GCSE Spanish exams has increased over the past few years, becoming Spanish students’ favourite language (British Council, 2018), the number of students wanting to study modern foreign languages has declined (Adams, 2015; Kershaw, 2017). Two of the main reasons for this decline are the low confidence levels of speaking a different language and the difficulty in understanding what is being said by native speakers of the target language (Young, 2014).
Exam results confirm that the most challenging part of the GCSE languages exam is the listening component, where many students fail despite of achieving high marks in their reading and writing tests. Listening exams create high levels of anxiety amongst students who desperately ask for advice in online forums. At the same time, teachers advise to their students that the best way to practice listening skills is by listening to the target language as much as possible. But, what should I listen to? students ask (The Student Room, 2017). As Fuertes (2019) said ‘Lo que más falta hace es, desde mi punto de vista, recursos auditivos y orales que sigan la estructura del examen’ (What we need the most, from my point of view, are audio and verbal resources which follow the same structure as the exams).
Therefore, this project titled ¡Escúchame! (Listen to me!) will focus on developing Spanish listening skills. The project is a response to teachers’ demands, based on their experiences and my own, as Spanish educational writer. Using a multimedia format, I have designed a website where Spanish audios, recorded by myself previously, will be stored and freely accessible to Spanish GCSE teachers and students.
¡Escúchame! is aiming to ‘cover’ the gap that exists online for free listening resources. The audios are based on topics that students are already studying in the classroom. And as these audios compile everyday life topics, they will also be useful to anyone wanting to practise their Spanish.
Finally, the audios will allow students to learn-on-the-go. Something that is becoming increasingly popular amongst students, being able to learn from their smartphone or tablet whilst they are commuting or doing different tasks (StudyBlue, 2011 ; Foti, 2014).
The audio resources will be demonstrated during the conference presentation, along with the story behind its creation.
Adams, R. (2015) ‘GCSE results: fall in number taking foreign languages ‘a cause for concern’, The Guardian, 20 August [online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/aug/20/gcse-results-fall-numbers-foreign-languages (Accessed 13 December 2018).
British Council (2018) The British Council on GCSE languages 2018 [online] Available at https://www.britishcouncil.org/organisation/press/british-council-comments-gcse-languages-2018 (Accessed 3 January 2016).
Foti, M. K. (2014) ‘Mobile Learning: How students use mobile devices to support their learning’ Mobile of Literacy and Technology, Vol. 15, no. 3 [online]. Available at http://www.literacyandtechnology.org/uploads/1/3/6/8/136889/jlt_v15_foti.pdf (Accessed 7 January 2019).
Fuertes, U. (2019) Email to Sonia Pardos, 6 January
Kershaw, A. (2017) ‘Fall in number of students taking up foreign languages prompts Brexit concerns’, The Independent, 5 August [online]. Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/fall-in-number-of-students-taking-modern-foreign-languages-brexit-british-council-prompts-concerns-a7877491.html (Accessed 1 November 2018).
Long, R. and Danechi, S. (2018) Language teaching in schools (England) [online] House of Commons library. Available at file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/CBP-7388.pdf(Accessed 5 January 2019).
Study Blue (2011) Students who study in smartphones are better prepared for class [online]. Available at https://www.cblohm.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/SB_MobileStudying_30Nov11.pdf(Accessed 19 December 2018)
The Student Room (2017). ‘How do I get better at Spanish listening exams?’ forum [online] The Student Room. Available at https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=5011934(Accessed 21 December 2018)
Young, H. (2014) ‘Do young people care about learning a foreign language?’ The Guardian, 7 November. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/nov/07/-sp-do-young-people-care-about-learning-foreign-languages-data(Accessed 19 December 2018)
23:09 on 16 January 2019