Interview with experienced LOTE teacher and examiner!
This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.
Tom is a LOTE teacher with decades of experience. He has also been an examiner. Read on for an interview with him to find out a bit more about what he’s learnt from his experience, and for his tips for students!
What are some of the most common mistakes students make in LOTE?
One common mistake is to avoid mistakes! Not being afraid of making mistakes is an important characteristic of a good language learner. Of course, it would be helpful to then make the most of understanding where you have made errors, but at first it is vital to try out a language. Another issue is the using of Google Translate or machine translators – this is occasionally okay, but most often, it is a lazy way to translate which gives lots of errors itself. It would be far better to try to use the strategies you develop in class to think about how language works and how to translate or how to say something in the LOTE. Another related issue is maybe writing something in English and then trying to put it into the LOTE. It might be better to just start writing in the LOTE.
Can you get low grades in Year 11 and still do well in Year 12?
Learning a language takes time. I would say it is hard to do well in a language in Year 12 if you get low grades in Year 11. The demands of a language include copious vocabulary, usually learnt within topics and units, and receptive skills such as listening and reading, plus productive skills such as speaking and writing. So, rather than working on improving in Year 12, far better to put in the effort in Year 11! That said, if you can figure out why you are not doing well and focus on areas which need improvement, it is possible to improve significantly. Also, at university, units are covered far more quickly and with less time to practise. So, it is possible to make some big changes and do a good job in Year 12.
What makes a student stand out in the oral exam (in a good way)?
Students who have approached a topic differently to other people would stand out in the oral examination. So, if you have a topic which many students are doing, try to think about it from a different angle. What is something that would not be expected, but would be an opportunity to show the breadth of your language learning? What vocabulary, grammar and clauses could you use which may not be often used by students in the exam? Ask your teacher to help you to develop these ideas. I would be impressed in the oral exam if the student listens well to questions and clarifies when they are not sure about what they have been asked. Also, if the student elaborates, adding to an answer, rather than stopping at the first opportunity, I think this helps the student to stand out.
Can you do well in LOTE if you aren’t a native speaker?
Of course! The expectation of examiners is that each student has studied the LOTE for six years at high school, and so they expect the student to have the skills of someone who has learnt the language in that context. Actually, native speakers sometimes have issues when they do Year 12 oral examinations because they do not understand the criteria for assessment very well. You can definitely learn strategies to keep communication open and to ask if you do not understand vocabulary or a question. Also, many examiners are teachers themselves and will have a good idea of what level the students will be. The oral examination is only 15 minutes so you have to perform for a length of time, and you would be surprised how quickly this time can go, as long as you have done the preparation.
Why did you decide to become a LOTE (language other than English) teacher?
I decided to become a LOTE teacher because I love crossing cultures and the best way to cross a culture is to learn a language. Rather than expecting other people to speak your language, learning theirs helps to break down barriers and to open up new worlds. My love of different cultures probably comes from living overseas as a child, traveling around the world and later living overseas as an adult! So sharing what I have learnt about another language is also a way of keeping alive in me the language skills I have learnt.
If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: When You’re Your Own Worst Enemy in Year 12 ,Knowledge And Practical Advice For The Final Year Of School : An Interview With A Third Year Music And Japanese Student At University and Tips on Studying for Exams – LearnMate Tutoring.
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