Real men do French

20th April 2007 at 01:00
Modern languages are for the girls. That at least is the perception among too many boys, who thereby handicap themselves in the global jobs market from the start.

The notion that girls are naturally better than boys is a myth, says Linda Christie, Lenzie Academy's modern languages principal teacher. But it's one that can be self-perpetuating, unless teachers take a hand.

"Simple things can make a big difference. When I first came to this school the top set in French was all girls and just one boy, and the bottom set was the other way around.

"At first, what I did was about discipline as much as anything else. I didn't want to face a roomful of teenage boys. It wasn't good for them or me."

So a little positive discrimination was started. "I put the best 15 girls and the best 15 boys in the top set, rather than the best 30 pupils.

"Before that you would have boys who were really good at maths in the third set for French. It was about attitude rather than ability. If a boy can do maths he can do French. We have policies to raise boys' attainment. But that one thing has been the most effective, I think. It altered the whole attitude that real men don't take languages.

"This year for the first time our boys' attainment in French is better than the girls'."

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