Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)
Modern foreign languages (MFL) is studied by all students in year 7 to 9. French is taught in year 7, 8 and 9 and Spanish is taught in year 8 and 9. Students can choose to study a language further in year 10 and 11, as one or two of their GCSE option choices.
Reason for sequencing the curriculum for every year group in the way it is, and the subject specific/pedagogical approach taken:
Learning a language is a life-skill of which the underpinning values are tolerance and respect. Tolerance: because pupils learn about different cultures and gain an understanding of how we are all different and can live together in a harmonious manner. Respect: because pupils learn respectful ways of communicating with different people and learn to accept other peoples’ languages and cultures. To support these values, the MFL curriculum is designed to allow equal coverage of the four key skills areas (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in every year group. The skills and topics that are covered in each year are filtered down into Key Stage 3 from the GCSE requirements (such as learning to describe a photograph and reading and translating literary texts.) There is repetition of the skills and topics throughout the learning journey, but the work becomes progressively more challenging each year to allow for a greater depth of knowledge and understanding.
Grammatical skills are introduced in year 7 in French and developed throughout the following years. Students begin Spanish lessons in year 8 but will have formed a level of confidence when learning a new language whilst studying French.
In the classroom, interactive resources and ICT are used to vary teaching and learning. To help and support pupils gain both confidence and knowledge, we do a range of activities including the following: language games, group work, paired work, music, video clips, research-based projects, trips.
The emphasis is on everyday communication in areas which directly relate to young people. For example, topics include Media, Music, Festivals, School, Future plans, Work experience and the Environment. The GCSE text book is used as a basis for topic requirements alongside other resources, such as media clips.
In year 7, students become more confident with the language and the aim is to build their confidence in all skills areas. In year 8, elements of the foundation and higher examination are introduced, with all subjects studying foundation topics and higher topics are used to stretch and challenge students.
In year 9 students are provided with access to the GCSE text books. They also work in small groups to develop their understanding of the key topics. This allows them to develop their confidence in the speaking and listening skills areas and shows them that the GCSE is attainable, accessible and enjoyable. It also allows them for a greater depth of vocabulary choices.
The new GCSE has brought increased reading opportunities via short or longer texts, including literary, for every stage of each topic. The use of authentic texts is encouraged, though the language may be simplified. In addition to this, pupils are introduced to some poetry in year 7 French, and have access to words of songs and recipes, among others. This can make the language learning process more meaningful.
How we build on prior learning:
The knowledge that students arrive with from primary schools can be variable and is usually limited to greetings and items. Therefore, we provide students with a quiz to complete in their first French lesson to determine what topics have been covered and what words they know; this is used to inform teaching in the following lessons.
All students will complete an assessment in French and Spanish at the end of each half term to test what skills need further development.
How we prepare students for the future:
Studying French and Spanish allows students to develop their communication skills, which is vital for the world of work. We also learn about additional cultures which broadens their horizons and teaches them to be more tolerant and understanding citizens.
The GCSE allows for a smoother transition into A Level French and/or Spanish as it provides more challenge and greater development of skills.
In French and Spanish, we also discuss how the learning will impact career choices and will benefit them in the future.
In addition, learning a new language may help develop the following skills: adaptability, communication, critical thinking, independence, problem solving, leadership and listening skills.
Additional provision to support learning:
In order to help our students develop confidence when learning a language, we offer support in a number of ways:
- Year 7 trip to France
- GCSE residential to France
- Lunchtime clubs to develop speaking skills
- Revision clubs for GCSE students
- Suggested wider reading texts in French and Spanish