Modern Foreign Languages

Mission Statement

The MFL department are passionate about languages and language learning. Through the delivery of our French, German and Spanish curricula we aspire to develop not only academic knowledge and skills, but also to promote character education and values. It is our intent to:

  • Empower students to communicate effectively in both spoken and written language.
  • Ensure that students are able to interpret listening and reading stimuli and successfully deduce meaning from comprehension texts.
  • Instil an interest in language learning and target language speaking countries and cultures.
  • Develop student knowledge and awareness of and engagement with the wider world.
  • Foster an environment centred around mutual respect and understanding of others, in which open-mindedness and tolerance are explicitly promoted.

The Four Pillars

Skills

As each new topic is covered students learn additional vocabulary, along with grammatical structures enabling them to understand and communicate effectively in the four skills areas (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Further to this, students also develop a range of transferrable, cross-curricular skills through the study of MFL. These include but are not limited to; cultural awareness, literacy, phonics, numeracy, memorisation techniques, description, narration and inferring meaning.

Character

A number of character traits are developed through the study of MFL. For example, language learning requires a great deal of open-mindedness. Students are exposed to the culture of target language speaking countries, encouraging them not only to be well-informed global citizens, but also respectful and tolerant of the many cultural differences apparent in today’s society. Additionally, languages instil resilience in students and allow them to take risks in their learning. Even in their mother tongue they make errors with their use of language, therefore accepting this as both a natural and important part of the learning process is essential.

Experiences

Every student will experience a curriculum that helps them linguistically but also culturally. Students will have exposure to authentic materials through a variety of stimuli which may include video clips, music, pen pal exchanges, native speaking teachers and educational visits. There are also numerous opportunities to be involved in extra-curricular activities and competitions, which again may include: Language Leaders Award, European Day of Languages events, the MFL spelling and translation bees and other national competitions.

Criticality

Through the study of languages students are encouraged to think in a variety of ways. They must think logically and analytically to apply their knowledge of grammatical patterns to help them deduce meaning in reading, listening and translation tasks. Moreover, they must think creatively, to use and manipulate the structures and vocabulary they have learnt, to express themselves clearly in spoken and written work.

Overview of Years 7 and 8

Throughout Year 7 and 8, students develop a basic understanding of key grammatical structures and vocabulary in a range of contexts. There is also a focus on language learning skills and metacognition, to empower students to cope with the challenges of learning a new language. The tables below indicate the topics taught in each language across year 7 and year 8.

Year 7

Aut 1 Aut 2 Spr 1 Spr 2 Sum 1 Sum 2
French My world Friends & family School Town & hobbies Holidays Project
German My world Friends & family Hobbies School Town Project
Spanish My world Hobbies School Family & friends Future plans Project

 Year 8

Aut 1 Aut 2 Spr 1 Spr 2 Sum 1 Sum 2
French Media Trips Identity and relationships House & home Celebrations & festivals Project
German Holidays Media Food & drink Daily routine Project
Spanish Holidays Media Food & drink Out & about Project

Parents can find more information on the specific topics covered in each unit by looking at the learning overviews that are stuck into students’ books at the start of each half term.

Overview of Year 9

During Year 9 students will consolidate and extend their knowledge of vocabulary, linguistic concepts, grammatical structures, and target language speaking culture in readiness for the GCSE course. This includes:

  • Consolidation of key grammar structures (including use of past, present and future tenses)
  • Extension of grammatical understanding through exposure to more complex structures (e.g. conditional tense, imperfect tense, comparative and superlatives)
  • Expansion of core vocabulary to include more interesting and unusual language through the study of a range of topics.
  • Learning to develop answers though use of qualifiers, connectives and justified opinions.
  • Further practice of metacognition strategies to enhance language learning skills, ability to cope with unfamiliar or challenging language and improve assessment technique.
Aut 1 Aut 2 Spr 1 Spr 2 Sum 1 Sum 2
French School & work Healthy living Holidays Free time & media Home & local environment Transitional skills
German Healthy living Music The environment Work Customs & festivals Transitional skills
Spanish Free time Healthy living Town Customs & festivals Rights & responsibilities Transitional skills

Parents can find more information on the specific topics covered in each unit by looking at the learning overviews that are stuck into students’ books at the start of each half term.

Overview of Years 10 and 11

The GCSE course in French, German or Spanish will provide students with:

  • An understanding of the language in a variety of contexts
  • The ability to communicate effectively in the language studied
  • A knowledge of important vocabulary and grammatical structures
  • An insight into the culture of the target language speaking countries

Students study topics from three key themes, which are assessed in all four examinations in the final GCSE.

  • Theme 1: Identity and Culture (Family and relationships, technology in everyday life and free-time activities).
  • Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest (Home, town and region, charity / voluntary work, healthy / unhealthy living, the environment, poverty / homelessness, travel and tourism)
  • Theme 3: Current and future study and employment (My studies and life at school, education post 16, jobs, career choices and ambitions)

Building on the KS3 curriculum students now progress to approach topics in greater depth. For example, under the umbrella of identity and culture, rather than just giving a basic description of their family as they would have done in KS3, students will now discuss and justify their relationships with family members, as well as tackling more challenging concepts such as the qualities of a good friend and the pros and cons of marriage.

We follow the AQA specification at GCSE. A comprehensive overview of the GCSE course curriculum can be accessed at the link below – simply choose the relevant language from the bottom of the website page:

https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages

Year 10

Aut 1 Aut 2 Spr 1 Spr 2 Sum 1 Sum 2
French Family & relationships Customs & festivals Home, town & region School Travel & tourism
German School Family & relationships Customs & festivals Home, town & region Free time & technology
Spanish Travel & tourism School Family & relationships Customs & festivals Free time & technology

Year 11

Aut 1 Aut 2 Spr 1 Spr 2 Sum 1 Sum 2
French The world of work Free time & technology Social issues Global issues Revision & final preparation for exams in all four skills (listening, speaking, reading & writing)
German Travel & tourism The world of work Social issues Global issues
Spanish The world of work Home, town & region Social issues Global issues

Parents can find more information on the specific topics covered in each unit by looking at the learning overviews that are stuck into students’ books at the start of each half term.

Assessment 

The course is assessed through 100% terminal examinations in summer of year 11. Students will be entered for either foundation or higher tier for all four papers. There will be an emphasis on grammatical knowledge, creativity and the student’s ability to manipulate the language accurately and spontaneously.

Paper 1: Listening (25%) 

Comprehension questions and answers both in English and in target language.

Paper 2: Speaking (25%)

Role play, photo card and general conversation.

Paper 3: Reading (25%) 

Comprehension questions and answers both in English and in target language. Translation from target language into English.

Paper 4: Writing (25%) 

Response to a photo (foundation only), short passage (foundation only), translation from English into target language (both foundation and higher), structured writing task (both foundation and higher) and open-ended writing task (higher only).

Extra-curricular Opportunities

There is a wealth of extra-curricular opportunities on offer within MFL, including visits, clubs and competitions. This includes but is not limited to theatre and university visits, overseas trips, visiting native speakers, the Language Leader Award, careers events, Mary Glasgow magazines, European Day of Languages events, poster and poetry competitions and the foreign language spelling bee. The MFL department are continuously seeking out further opportunities to enhance the language learning experience in the classroom. Therefore, this list represents just a snapshot of the provision currently available.