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Learners’ perceptions of being identified as very able: Insights from Modern Foreign Languages and Physical Education

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While learners’ attitudes to Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) and to Physical Education (PE) in the UK have been widely investigated in previous research, an under-explored area is learners’ feelings about being highly able in these subjects. The present study explored this issue, among 78 learners (aged 12–13) from two schools in England, a Specialist Language College, and a Specialist Sports College. Learners completed a questionnaire exploring their feelings about the prospect of being identified as gifted/talented in these subjects, and their perceptions of the characteristics of highly able learners in MFL and PE. Questionnaires were chosen as the data collection method to encourage more open responses from these young learners than might have been elicited in an interview. While learners were enthusiastic about the idea of being highly able in both subjects, this enthusiasm was more muted for MFL. School specialism was related to learners’ enthusiasm only in the Sports College. Learners expressed fairly stereotypical views of the characteristics of the highly able in MFL and PE. The relevance of these findings for motivation and curriculum design within both subjects is discussed.
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Keywords: ability; giftedness; modern foreign languages; motivation; physical education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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