Complaints mount over German exam

20:35, Nov 21 2012

Eighteen teachers have laid official complaints about a German exam that contained a sexually suggestive song.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has received three complaints about the NCEA German level 2 exam, two from individuals and one on behalf of 16 teachers.

Teachers are criticising the exam content, which included a song, and a rap.

Christchurch Girls' High School head of German Natasha Smith said songs had never been included in NCEA exams before and NZQA staff had said "exams will look pretty much the same as they did last year".

German-language teachers nationwide are calling for NZQA markers to treat the exam sympathetically.

NZQA deputy chief executive Richard Thornton said the complaints would be "reviewed as part of NZQA's continuous improvement process" to ensure "issues are not repeated in following years".


The inclusion of the song by German group Wise Guys has drawn heated criticism because of sexual connotations.

However, teachers are also concerned the song significantly deviated from the curriculum.

Thornton said the specifications for the listening exam state pupils must "demonstrate understanding of a variety of spoken German texts on familiar matters".

"The song was chosen as the spoken passage as it was felt it would engage the candidates."

But Smith said: "There is a very big difference to German being spoken compared to when it is being sung."

And in every language exam, a few words that students would not know are translated for them.

A number of words in a rap played to pupils in the listening section were incorrectly translated, Smith said.

Thornton said three native German speakers were on the team who wrote the exam.

This prompted Smith to say she was "speechless" native speakers endorsed the exam and did not pick up on the incorrect translations.

Three Christchurch pupils told The Press they felt "ripped off" by the exam.

They all said nothing could have prepared them for last week's exam, which asked questions on topics they had not studied and gave incorrect translations of some German words.

One said: "I love learning German and the exam did not allow me to show the markers my ability and be tested fairly."

"I felt as if I was in a bad dream, thinking what has just happened, a song and a rap in the exam, I cannot believe that NZQA could do this to us."

The Press