Survey of Y8/9 Languages Students to shape option choices

Results of Y8 and Y9 Language Classes Option Survey 2015

280 students completed the survey, however only 100 results are shown here as we do not have professional version of Survey Monkey. Hence also the screen shots used here to show results.

graph 1

graph 3 graph 6 graph 7 graph2 graph4 graph5

graph 8

Analysis of results:


Only 50% of students felt learning a language was important, with the majority choosing not to continue, despite two thirds saying they enjoyed it.  Thus only 31% plan to carry on with this option choice through secondary school.


Less than half students (42%) feel that some subjects should be compulsory, with only 26% saying the four core subjects should be.  This indicates a need for change from the status quo and the desire from client students for more choice in their education.


Surprisingly, 34% would have chosen a language if it ws not compulsory at Y9, more or less the percentage that plan to continue studying language through college.  Most preferred the option of a half year course, while nearly one third expressed the desire for the choice of half or full year.  This would not be difficult to timetable – optional courses – but would need some rejigging of higher level courses to accommodate different levels of pre learning. This is not impossible, as motivation is the key rather than prerequisites, as shown by the Y11 student who began Japanese at Y11 in 2015 and consistently gained Excellence level grades.


The reasons rankings for learning another language are evenly spread, clearly demonstrating that students do understand the different benefits, but rate travel over career.  This reflects the national attitude that learning another language is not an essential, an attitude which fails to reflect the growing impact of globalization, immigration and TTPA agreements on New Zealand’s culture and economy.  We are failing if we cannot ensure that students are better equipped for an international workplace.

From this small number surveyed, the conclusion is that making language not compulsory at Y9 will have no impact on numbers, as the same number of students say they would choose it anyway as would choose to continue the option through college.  This would mean less Y9 classes to staff, enabling just one teacher to take Y9-13, and thus provide a better retention rate and more predictable class sizes for higher levels. Making language non compulsory at Y9 would also mean reducing three taster courses to one.


This should be considered in conjunction with the possiblity of combining the two remaining taster courses at Y7 and Y8, with students having one language taster over the two year period.  Y7 enthusiasm has too often disappeared by Y8 due to overexposure.  Bearing in mind that retention has steadily decreased from the time of induction of Y7 and 8 into the languages program, it is increasingly clear that it is important to manage taster courses to ensure they are effective.



Session 1 Morning PD Aligning class work and assessment at Y9 & 10

Professional Development SessionsTerm 3 2015

Languages Department Orewa College

Session 1

OBJECTIVE; To decide on a specific format for student work that suits our department for Middle School students.  NB Students need a system that allows them to store notes, classroom activities, and publish assessment tasks with video footage.

PD reading to be done before session:

Margaret Murray to demonstrate Showbie by getting us all to create and submit a document to her beforehand.

Digital options for submitting work for Middle School – Showbie, Youtube, Dropbox, Blogs, Wikispaces, Google Docs, CBB or other eBooks.

Paper options: Notebook provided by dept – kept in class? Ownership?

Notebook provided by student

What works in terms of:


Feedback/feed forward

Providing students coherent notes they can use for revision

Motivating students towards a positive digital footprint

Ease of use for both teacher/students

Ensuring editing process is recorded

Minutes Term 4 Language department

Hui start 0820                                                                        Agenda: See above

Present – OL, WL, Btn, My, Sko , TLR                                     Apologies- No apologies

Minutes  – Singa Broughton

Note taking

  • Do we need notes where students can access any topic on the Internet now?
  • What is the best format/platform/app, to use now that we are digital?
  • Should a note- taking book go on stationery list?
  • Could we begin each term with a mini task requiring students to create a [language] folder on their device for notes?
  • Where is the best place to keep notes ie: device or notebook and  the theoretical advantages and disadvantages
  • Students taking photos of teachers whiteboard notes

Had to leave the Note taking discussion to allow time for the next topic on the Agenda

Showbie: Margaret Murray

  • initial problems occured on iPad with a ‘Teacher’ trying to join the class as a Student but was solved
  • A general feeling is that Showbie has similar functions to other platforms such as GoogleDocs but seems to be a lot more personalised
  • Showbie has the capability to  embed videos but we ran out of time to pursue the comparisons between showbie and blogs such as WordPress


Hui ended  – 9 am BUT,  we feel as a department that we didnt  really acchieve what we wanted in the short amount of time… The Department feels  a whole day Department meeting would be more beneficial…

HOD Report on Morning PD #1 Languages Department

A       Notetaking in general

Teachers found readings useful and they sparked off a good discussion on what is note taking, what notes a student might need in languages, note taking skills and their relevance in today’s digital classroom and the latest research on best practice involving learning and notation.

  1. Some notes are useful – verbs, grammar structures, words that come up in class, explanations given by teacher, and in particular, the processing that goes on when students transfer information from one format to another, or put things in their own words, decided us. This is an important aspect of learning not linked to creating, but to memory and processing – the preliminary stages.
  2. Students generally find the time needed to open ipad/laptop, login, wait for Pages to load, or login again to Ultranet and navigate to the appropriate class and folder, or open a search engine and search for the information a poor investment, and resist doing it, so they don’t revisit important information repeatedly as they need to.
  3. Although they need filing skills on their devices, note taking by hand can be a useful adjunct to their digital environment – another tool for our toolbox.
  4. Gillian had trialled with Y9 and Sorrel with Y10 a notebook system last term, with success.

Conclusion: As a department we will consider issuing small 3B1 notebooks to each student in Y9/10 and direct them to process gathered material to produce effective notes. Students who continue a language at  y10will be reissued with these notebooks the following year as a personal revision device.  This is to be revisited at next dept meeting after we have had a time to explore Showbie and evernote  as an option.  If this is a successful initiative in 2016, we will add it to stationery lists for 2017.  Estimated cost at .05c per student @approx 500 students = $25

B          Aligning assessment and note/coursework options for Languages Dept

Showbie, Edublogs were the only two that we had time to discuss. Margaret showcased Showbie, getting us to join a class and we all explored the possibilities.  With Showbie students can join a class and have an individualised folder, like Dropbox, but more visible and therefore more like a virtual class.  Students can submit images, written or video tasks using iPads – not so easy with laptops. Teachers can annotate the work in color for feedback and add voice commentary. We ran out of time to effectively compare options and come to a conclusion.

Conclusion: We would have needed at least 3 hours to effectively compare the two main options and come to a decision as to which suited student, teacher needs and aligned with school goals best.


Select comment SñraOleary
Submitted on 2015/07/30 at 4:46 am

This interaction is at an achieved level, possibly high achieved. If you want to aim for Merit, which I think you should, you need to think in the conditional, future and include past tenses with more developed phrases, even the odd set phrase or modismo in the next interactions!
Los espanoles … como podrian hacer cosas asi…has oido de la manera en que los espanoles se desayunan…Una vez nos dijo nuestro profe que en Espana….
Adonde iras…porque has elegido esta parte de Espana? Que haras aca? Que podras ver? Que te gustaria logar durante tu estancia? etc

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Level 3 Spanish AS91570 Interaction Submission 1: El Dia de San Valentin
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Select comment SñraOleary
Submitted on 2015/06/27 at 6:58 am

Some simple phases would help you here – en comparacion con for example
Good use of interactive strategies – agreement, clarification,
I think with the phrase El otro dia you need to add I heard that
Practice needed – what about that conversation class I mentioned at the beginning of the year?

Level 3 Spanish AS91570 Interact Submission 3: Los espanoles Tori Mcgahon
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Select comment SñraOleary
Submitted on 2015/06/27 at 6:55 am

Good use of future tense througout and good cultural knowledge of Rioja shown. This would be a good piece for submission, instead of the conversation on this topic as you can’t submit the same material for different standards.
Quick edit tips
the future tense uses just the main verb generally – me quedare instead of estare quedandome
Aunque at the start of a sentence
there is/there are = hay, there will be = habra
antes de + infinitive ALWAYS
generally use the infinitive in Spanish instead of the gerund

Level 3 Spanish AS91572 Writing Portfolio Submission 2: Una carta con planes
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Select comment SñraOleary
Submitted on 2015/06/25 at 4:31 am

Excellent use made of model, with good development of each point. One thing you could do is extend each of your intro phrases a bit: Probaras panecillo de queso/podras probar panecillo de queso

Quick edit tips:
It is absolutely esssential to go over this with a fine tooth comb for matching nouns with their articles, nouns with adjectives and finally, verbs with subjects: Una parte de la isla sur es las panecillos de queso. SON iconicos y deberas probarlos.
These errors are consistent and bringing your mark DOWN.
Reminder – venir is irregular in the present.

Literacy Credits

This year I initiated a campaign for literacy credits which is currently being managed by a group of Spanish language teachers. We have worked to research this issue to compare it with overseas trends, to set up meetings and liaise with universities, in particular Canterbury and Auckland, contacted ILEP and NZALT and met with their leaders. Some of the teachers involved are: Carlos Junca; Catherine Attwood; Helen Magasiva; Julia Crawley; Laytee George; Maria Blanco Blanco; Marjorie Juhel; Rosa Guevara; Elena Prado

Currently the issue is being taken forward by NZALT and Catherine Attwood has been asked to join NZALT and become part of  working group to bring this issue to the attention of the MOE during teh NZQA review of languages curriculum early next year.

I have asked to take a less committed view due to personal health issues. My opening email is below with some of the follow up emails.

Sent: Friday, 8 May 2015 5:21 PM
Subject: [ELENZA] no literacy credits for studying language
I would like to bring up the subject of the lack of  literacy credits for senior language NCEA standards in NZ with the Ministry and am keen to know other language teacher’s thoughts on this subject.
Literacy credits are currently offered in subjects such as Drama, Economics, Health & PE, Mathematics, Music, Horticulture, and Te Reo yet not to students who read and write in another language.  In addition, it seems patently unreasonable and hypocritical to not offer literacy credits for learning a second language, when students studying Te Reo Maori (as a second language) are being awarded them for similar assessments.
The argument may have been that native speakers could gain literacy credits through language standards, providing a false picture of their English abilities.  This is an unsubstantiated argument, in particular with regard to the number of literacy credits students are required to provide for course entry, as it would be impossible to get all or even most of these through one or two NCEA language assessments.  In addition, the number of students studying their own language for NCEA credits is negligible, compared to the number of English speaking senior students studying a second language who are being denied literacy credits for becoming more literate through studying language.
With second  language student numbers at an all-time low in new Zealand, it is time the MOE started supporting its own curriculum, where it has placed learning languages as a core strand.  One positive thing we could do is provide literacy credits for students who earn them by studying literature, writing, reading and gaining insights into the functioning of their own language during their second language study.
I look forward to hearing other’s  thoughts on the matter.
Sorrel O’Leary
Ms S O’leary MA, DipTch.
Acting HOD International Languages
Spanish Coordinator
Orewa College
No hay un paso gigante que lo hace. Es una gran cantidad de pequeños pasos.
mailto:ELENZA@LISTSERV.REDIRIS.ES] On Behalf Of Elena Prado
Sent: Saturday, 9 May 2015 2:43 p.m.
Subject: Re: [ELENZA] no literacy credits for studying language
I am glad Sorrel that you have brought up the topic to our attention.
Vocational Pathways is already having a negative impact in students choosing languages as it offers very little credits to target language learners.
In relation to literacy credits something has to be done soon, otherwise students will start seeing no value in target languages learning.
I understand that teaching and learning languages has now a strong focus in communicative purpose however, there is a need to re-evaluate the role of language translation as it has a strong relationship with literacy and it is an important source of employment.
I know of the existence of Google translate but we all know by now that a serious translation job will always require a person behind it who has earned some literacy credits… hopefully.
Translating abstract thinking, literature, poetry, etc., will always require a high level of literacy.
Having a new NCEA standard in where students have to face a translation task of 3 different types of texts, topics level related and from target language to English, could be the way to go.
Maybe without use of resources, it could be one way to acknowledge how target language learning enriches and extend literacy in students and earn them credits.
Or it could be a research project, text resources in target language and then a translation to English, without the use of resources such as dictionaries or else.
Just a thought.
¡¡¡Vivan los idiomas!!
Hello all
I have been chatting to ESOL and English HODs and have discovered some misconceptions about literacy credits.  Firstly, literacy is taken (without stating it anywhere) to mean literacy in English. It appears to have come about as a university initiative.   Secondly, apparently there are no Level 2 literacy credits as such. Students must gain 10 literacy credits at level 1 to gain level 1 NCEA.  Students must gain a further 10 literacy credits at either Level 2 or 3 for university entrance.
This has a bearing on our situation, as we will need to present a strong case for credits at all three levels of language study.
Another argument could be based on the type of answers the new ‘NCEA marking schedule’ for languages is asking from students. Before (I am talking about 3 years ago) it used to be pretty much a translation of the text (listening/reading) to get Excellence whereas now, it is more an interpretation and well explained perspectives and inferences to sit safely in the E category. Anyone who sees the examples of E/M answers in the NCEA webpage will see that this requires a better level of literacy.
Just a thought.
Regarding what is happening in other English speaking countries, it is rather hard to compare the NZ system for University entries to other systems. In England students are required to complete GCSE before going to Uni and some states in Australia have a system based on percentages of all students’ results . So far I haven’t heard of literacy/numeracy credits for University entry.
Deb Ward suggests the following:

The Review and Maintenance Programme (RAMP) will be one of our best ways to have feedback.

This year it is underway for Mathematics and Statistics and Science learning areas. Languages is

on the timeline for the start of 2016. Further information can be found


How can we as teachers have a say in this process? Feeding back through NZALT and your own

language associations is the most important step to take as they then talk directly to MOE.

There is a lot of support for your points from teachers and feeding this voice back is very

important so thank you for raising this in such a clear and concise manner.

 I don’t remember having word of this conference in Wellington, and the first site I tried on looking for information, was The Office of Ethnic Affairs, which I have also never heard of,  and it denied me access.  This conference was apparently a government initiative from this Office aimed at developing policy around languages and language learning, see:

It may be this Office which is also driving the intercultural standards development initiative, which was being researched last year (a standard or standards based on intercultural competency)

Mentoring other teachers

This year I mentored a Spanish language teacher, taking her through the process of planning


In term 2 Caroline Watson of Kingway School in Orewa requested a day with me as part of her school’s out and about program.  She spent the day observing classes and I shared a number of online resources with her by email after her visit.

Yuki Seko is a first year teacher working in Japanese as LTR the second half of 2015 and I am mentoring him as HOD of languages.  I have assisted him with set up and our discipline program, and am helping him with Kamar, Language Perfect, any technology issues and NCEA. We are working together to administer ACL tests online this term and I will be helping him to prepare school examinations for week 6.