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MFL (Modern Foreign Languages)

MFL Curriculum Intent

Years 7 and 8 focus on the basic learning blocks of a successful linguist. Key grammar and topic areas are introduced in years 7 and 8 and are later built on at GCSE which we start to teach in Year 9. The teaching of grammar underpins everything that our students learn at Key Stage 3; our intention is to provide them with a solid understanding of the basics before they reach Year 10. Students are set by ability in years 8 and 9 to allow our teaching both to support and to stretch learners more effectively. There is a condensed curriculum for French, Spanish and German dual linguists which allows students to acquire skills in fewer lessons.  The curriculum for the single linguists moves at a slower pace but with more lessons.  In Year 9 a small number of learners who have struggled to access the curriculum in years 7 and 8 are placed in a set with fewer lessons of Modern Foreign Languages, enabling them to focus on progress in core English and Maths skills. These students follow the same curriculum in Spanish or French as their peers, but the curriculum content has been differentiated to meet their needs, allowing them to access key language and more cultural elements which have been included in the topics themselves.


The material taught is designed to be both accessible and challenging in order to engage learners of all abilities. In years 7 and 8 there is a focus on topics relating to students’ lives and experiences allowing them to communicate their interests and things that matter to them. Annual trips to Paris, Barcelona and the German Christmas markets aim to show learners language in action and instil them with a passion to apply what they have learnt and communicate in the target language. In order to increase confidence in students’ speaking and listening, native or fluent conversation assistants regularly support the teachers in and outside the classroom.  Cultural enrichment is embedded into each scheme of work in the form of activities or projects which are completed at appropriate times in the calendar and curriculum.


The Key Stage 3 curriculum is intended to prepare our students with the skills necessary to be confident at the start of Key Stage 4. This includes grammar, vocabulary, exam technique and study skills. Learning how to memorise vocabulary and grammar is addressed, as well as how to improve listening and reading comprehension, setting personal targets that focus on trying out and evaluating different learning strategies. From the outset, students also begin to develop translation skills both into and from the target language. GCSE topics in French and Spanish are started in Year 9 albeit at a slower pace.  In German, GCSE starts in Year 10 because students are selected to start learning German as a second Modern Foreign Language in Year 8.


In years 7 and 8 French and Spanish students focus on developing the skills that underpin the language they are learning. They are taught through topics which are based on the GCSE programme so that vocabulary can be consistently revisited, recycled and developed as they progress.  In Year 9 French and Spanish we start to teach the more accessible topics of the GCSE curriculum, reinforcing the key tenses studied in years 7 and 8. In Term 6 of Year 9 the GCSE topic of customs and festivals is delivered as it is interesting and more engaging especially for those students who have not opted for GCSE languages. German follows the same sequence but starts in Year 8.


The teaching of Modern Foreign Languages actively supports the teaching of literacy across the entire curriculum. We specifically focus on vocabulary and use of grammar that have a bearing on all subjects. The study of languages naturally develops many valuable, transferable skills, notably the ability to communicate both verbally and in writing.  By working outside their comfort zone, students at all levels will be challenged in their learning and yet develop self-confidence in a safe environment.  At the same time the study of Modern Foreign Languages exposes all pupils to different ways of living and different cultures, encouraging them to examine their own experiences and traditions, be tolerant and curious of other cultures and acknowledge how they differ across the world.  Specific lessons focused on cultural capital are embedded in all schemes of work at Key Stage 3. At Key Stages 4 and 5, the curriculum content involves students questioning key issues in society that may be local, regional or global and evaluating them, developing both critical and analytical skills through discussion and debate.


Assessments are designed to inform students and teachers of progress.  Feedback from assessments is intended to signpost students to the next steps in their learning journey. It also allows the teacher to establish whether subsequent lessons need to be adapted to deal with misconceptions or common errors before moving on in the scheme of work. DIRT time is provided for students to reflect and focus on improvements to their work. This allows for differentiation, where all students can focus on their own individual needs and targets.  In accordance with the department marking policy, teachers will provide diagnostic feedback, highlighting key errors as well as indicating how the content of an individual’s work might be improved to gain higher marks.  Assessments are intended to reflect the skills and knowledge needed at GCSE to ensure students have sufficient practice in the different assessment types before they reach Key Stage 4.  Learning surgeries are offered at lunchtimes and after school for students needing more focused support.


Students are regularly tested on vocabulary recall and recognition in Key Stages 3 and 4. They are encouraged to practise on their own using Quizlet and using the vocabulary builder tool on Kerboodle at GCSE. In French and Spanish four of the twelve GCSE topics are introduced in years 7 and 8 (years 8 and 9 in German). Students are reminded regularly that they need to see learning languages as building blocks; without committing the basics to their long-term memory, making real progress in Modern Foreign Languages is challenging. These topics are reintroduced and explored in more detail in years 9 to 11 and students are expected to be able to remember much of what was taught earlier through regular independent revision and practice, both of which are essential for embedding their language learning into their long-term memory.  Grammar, including verbs in key tenses, is constantly re-visited throughout Key Stages 3 and 4, which helps develop an in-depth understanding of how languages work and how to apply grammatical knowledge to new contexts.  Again, students are encouraged to work on their verb conjugations through use of Quizlet and other online applications and students in Key Stage 4 to use their grammar and translation workbooks independently and regularly.  What has been acquired and practised at Key Stages3 and 4 provides the essential building blocks for continued success with languages at Key Stage 5.


By the nature of the subject being taught, pupils are consistently exposed to new cultural experiences be it through the topics delivered, foreign language films and songs.  Cultural capital is explicitly built into the curriculum via schemes of work and extracurricular activities. Trips are organised to the target language countries, which all attract interest from students.  All trips are of educational value and some are of cross-curricular interest.  GCSE and A level students have enjoyed study days organised by Oxford University, which have been designed to support the content of both exam specifications.  For example, the GCSE topic of social and global issues encourages discussion of poverty and homelessness in the UK and abroad as well as environmental issues while at Key Stage 5 topics such as discrimination, marginalisation and racism are studied at greater depth. These topics lend themselves to discussion and debate; the ability to critically and analytically consider literature and film is addressed in the Key Stage 5 scheme of work, as is the ability to research current issues in francophone and Hispanic countries. These skills are all vital for students pursuing post 18 education and are skills which will be valued in the workplace.