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Theme of the week is: Celebration

Modern Foreign Languages (French/German/Spanish)

With the growth in travel and communications between the United Kingdom and the continent, knowledge of a modern foreign language is becoming a necessity. Under the European Union initiatives there are opportunities for students in Higher Education to spend a year or a part of a year of their studies in an EU country. And now that the borders with our EU countries are open, there exist opportunities to work abroad and so a qualification in a language is increasingly essential.


In the UK, some educational establishments are now asking for a GCSE in a foreign language before accepting students on certain courses. This may become standard if the English Baccalaureate becomes more widely recognised.


Our current year 9 students are working towards the FCSE award in the language they have been learning from Year 7. Throughout the year they are being assessed on the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. This qualification will be graded at Pass, Merit and Distinction levels and is an accredited national qualification which serves as an excellent springboard to GCSE. Students who are doing well on this course are thus well on the way to learning the skills they need to be successful at GCSE.


We are offering students a choice of options in Years 10 and 11:

  1. to continue with their current language – it is hoped that more able students would be able to complete their GCSE by the end of term 3 of Year 11 and thus start extension work that approaches AS level;
  2. to study a second language with a view to taking the GCSE in two years. However this can only run if sufficient students opt for it.
  3. We have a number of very strong linguists whom we would strongly encourage to continue with their language study at KS4, and who would thrive under the challenge of starting A level a year early.


The teaching and learning of all modern foreign language at GCSE are identical. Each covers the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Below is a summary of the assessment programme:

Unit 1: Listening

  • External exam, 20% of total mark
  • Range of question types based on pre-recorded spoken material in French
  • Student may enter either:
    Foundation Tier (C–G) 30 min (+ 5 min reading time) 35 marks 
    Higher Tier (A*–D) 40 min (+ 5 min reading time) 40 marks


Unit 2: Reading

  • External exam, 20% of total mark
  • Range of question types based on written material in French
  • Student may enter either:
    Foundation Tier (C–G) 30 min, 35 marks 
    Higher Tier (A*–D) 50 min, 45 marks


Unit 3: Speaking

  • Controlled assessment
  • 60 marks: 30% of total mark
  • Marks for two tasks submitted for moderation (recording for one task submitted for moderation)
  • Last stage of each task lasts 4–6 min


Unit 4: Writing

  • Controlled assessment
  • 60 marks: 30% of total mark
  • Two tasks submitted for marking
  • Last stage of each task occurs in one single session of no longer than 1 hour
  • Word guidance: 200–350 words (D–G) or 400–600 words (A*–C) across both tasks

Units 1 and 2 are taken at the end of Year 11, with Units 3 and 4 being taken at the teachers’ discretion throughout the two years, when they feel the students are ready.


The subject matter is the same in all languages and is theme-based:

  • Lifestyle (covering health, relationships and choices);
  • Leisure (covering free time, media and holidays);
  • Home and Environment (covering home, local area and environmental issues);
  • Work and Education (covering school/college, future plans, current and future jobs).

The courses are based on authentic materials which include a recently updated textbook that students can take home. They are also expected to use ICT for independent study – the school subscribes to a number of foreign language-specific websites, and there are many freely available on the web.


Why learn a foreign language?

  • 94% of the world’s population do not have English as their native language and 75% of the world’s population speaks no English at all
  • It can improve your English as it heightens your awareness of structure and grammar.
  • Having a language at GCSE can be of benefit as many jobs requiring languages skills need them as a secondary qualification.
  • 60% of Britain’s exports go to non-English speaking countries and 20% of UK exports are adversely affected by barriers in language or cultural ignorance.
  • Language graduates are more employable than science, business studies or ICT graduates.
  • Over 20% of employers say that they need employees who are more competent in languages.
  • University entrants have a better chance of getting on a languages course than in any other subject
  • It can make you a more tolerant and open-minded person as it offers an insight into other cultures.
  • It opens doors and creates opportunities.
  • It can make travel and leisure more exciting and interesting.


Occupations involving Languages:

  • Computer programmer
  • Credit controller
  • Customer support adviser
  • Executive search consultant
  • Cultural briefing consultant
  • Interpreter
  • Teacher
  • Language trainer
  • Translator
  • Engineering
  • Banking
  • Civil service
  • Travel and tourism
  • Secretary/PA
  • Marketing
  • Public relations
  • Pharmaceutical work
  • Journalism and media
  • Transport and distribution
  • Website localiser