MLAC condemns 4th year exam proposals – Palatinate | Rare Techy
By Emily Doty
Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC) finalists could be set to face individual exams for the first time in their university careers after the department revealed plans to fully take exams in languages classified as “hard” and “super hard”. – Person.
The proposals mean exams in “easy” languages including French, Italian and Spanish will continue to be held online this year, while exams for languages including Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Japanese will be held in person.
Many students were outraged by the decision, many of whom said the proposal was “absolutely harmful”. Another student said: “The university/department cannot justify this unfair treatment as it has the best interests of the students at heart.”
For many finalists, these assessments will be the first individual exam since their A-levels. said one finalist Palatinate: “We haven’t taken a timed exam since A-levels and it’s completely unfair to put this pressure on top of already having to do our finals.”
Another student said the decision would “badly affect our degrees” after 2.5 years of online classes, which are of lower quality than physical classes.
Many students are questioning why those who took the exams only online during their time at university are being allowed to take the exams in person for the first time this year. One person summed up their feelings by saying that “the most important year of our degree is at stake when the university decides to hold the first individual exams that some of us have taken in 4-5 years”.
The furore led to many students being “punished” for doing tough language, with one finalist calling the decision against tough subjects “discriminatory”. One student said, “Discrimination against hard, non-European languages is insulting. Students in tough subjects should not be punished in this way.
Some students also claim that there were conversations between students and senior figures in the MLAC department before the move was made online due to Covid-19. Students say these conversations indicated that these subjects have long been moving to online exams, meaning they were surprised by plans for in-person assessments.
This anger was fueled by the fact that many students were not encouraged to maintain their written language skills these days, one finalist said. Palatinate They now have to relearn their chosen language on top of all their other third year commitments.
Also, one Japanese language finalist wrote in an open letter to the MLAC department, “A handwriting test will not allow us to demonstrate our ability to recognize kanji, the only form of kanji we have been taught and evaluated for the past 3 years. ‘. She went on to say, “Our inability to write kanji is not our own fault.”
Students are also frustrated as many taking “hard” and “super hard” languages may face disruption during their year abroad, and many students of these languages are unable to go abroad due to various travel restrictions.
A Japanese student said Palatinate Noting that a year abroad had affected their language skills, the student questioned how the MLAC department could see their language skills on par with previous years’ students: “How are we expected to reach the same level of performance. Had we gone to Japan?”
A Russian language student said, “My language skills are definitely not on par with people who were able to go to Russia before the war; The difference between the peers who couldn’t go and the people who were able to go and the people who were able to go was incredibly large. They went on to say that the department was trying to “fail” them.
Another student claimed that there was “such (a) disparity in levels of writing” between those who had been abroad and those who had not, while another student placed the source of their concern in the MLAC department, who “continually emphasized that the year abroad is the most important year for learning a language,” without which the student felt at a disadvantage.
After the instructions were released, a survey was conducted by a Japanese language finalist, and 79% of the Japanese studies finalists who responded to the survey found that 100% disagreed with the current exam instruction.
The impact of the announcement also affected students’ mental health, says a student Palatinate They have seen a “significant decline in mental health” among their friends, and many students have spoken to them and said they “want to drop out” of their course.
In a Zoom call, MLAC students said the department’s decision was justified, with staff explaining that they suspected plagiarism among students in the online exams, while the written components of “easy” languages were “easy and hence less likely to be cheated”.
However, many students have criticized the department’s classification of languages, with one student saying: “A language, an organism of culture, can be objectively compared and brought to difficult levels.” In a separate open letter to the MLAC department, one student said the decision was an “absurd implication” and based on “a strange logic.”
Others questioned the MLAC department’s justification for not being able to detect plagiarism in difficult exams, asking, “How can language experts not detect plagiarism?” A student asks.
In a statement PalatinateProfessor David Cowling, Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University, said: “We take the welfare and well-being of students very seriously and we fully understand students’ concerns, particularly when their studies are disrupted by external factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is important to say that no final decision has been taken regarding the end-of-year language exams. All cultural modules are tested online.
We have engaged in a comprehensive, constructive and ongoing consultation process with students, staff and senior members of the school. We have also taken into account the views of external examiners who provide quality assurance reviews of our examination process.
Consequently, the school will submit a proposal to a panel of senior university academic staff, which will also include student representation.
“That panel will take a final decision on the format of the year-end language exams in due course. Ultimately, assessments are designed to test the learning outcomes of modules and should be considered alongside student preference.
“We also note that some students have had disruptions in their year abroad due to external factors and are concerned about the effect this may have on the development of their language skills.
“We have processes in place to mitigate the impact this disruption may have on our students’ learning and will share detailed information about this with students as soon as possible. We would ask any students with concerns to speak to the school or their college support network who will be happy to help them.
Image: Amana Moore