Curriculum Rationale in: MFL
Learning a Modern Foreign Language (MFL) is a crucial part of a child’s academic and social development, enabling them to become more knowledgeable about the world in which they live. Within the MFL department we celebrate culture and diversity which complements our school motto: All Different, All Equal, All Achieving. The MFL department provides pupils with an opportunity to develop their skills and confidence in the wider world. Learning a language provides students with academic and cultural capital that will enable them to be well-educated citizens in a global society.
Many of our young people have not had exposure to people from other cultures, and many more have not travelled abroad. This is sometimes because of the context in which they grow up. We teach our pupils about the impact that comes from a lack of understanding of foreign languages, cultures and practices, which can form a barrier to experiencing new cultures and making the most of opportunities around the world, or within their own community. Learning a language is often the first step in acknowledging difference and equality, therefore developing a more open-minded attitude to the world, recognising that people live differently in other countries, and that any difference can be positive are important foundations for our learners.
In addition to the cultural aspect of learning a language, there are a number of challenging academic concepts that students must master when learning a new language, and as such the regular study of French, Mandarin and Spanish within the curriculum plays an important role in developing the diverse academic capital of students at AMA. An integral part of language learning is being able to recognise and manipulate a range of linguistic and grammatical structures, which often supports pupils’ understanding of English. The same is true for the development of reading and listening skills in the target language.
Pupils need to develop their confidence and skills when communicating with others, especially when communication is difficult or there is a barrier. By studying MFL, pupils develop confidence, resilience and the skills needed to communicate with others in a range of formal and informal settings, placing them on an equal footing with their worldwide counterparts. Learning a MFL reinforces and often explicitly teaches the skills needed to communicate effectively [no matter what the language] for example, by considering how to understand a question and give an appropriate response, or by using accurate syntax to communicate an idea clearly.
We align our SoW the national curriculum aims for MFL, which are below:
– Understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
– Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
– Can write at varying lengths, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
– Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied. Students will be able to:
– Recognise and use an appropriate range of vocabulary linked to topics studied
– Engage with authentic text in the target language and respond appropriately
– Listen to native speakers of French/ Spanish and understand them
– Speak confidently in French/ Spanish, using accurate pronunciation and intonation
– Communicate their ideas clearly in written and spoken format
– Apply grammatical rules and structures to a range of contexts
– Discuss different cultural aspects related to French speaking countries.
At AMA, we also recongise that the curriculum must meet the contextual needs of our students, and have therefore developed the following curriculum aims:
– To promote a love of reading, and improve students’ vocabulary acquisition;
– Students learn grammatical forms and make etymological links between words used in English and foreign vocabulary learning;
– To promote cultural capital by teaching students a broad range of knowledge, which exposes them to the best that has been said and thought throughout history. We do this in MFL by exposing children to authentic French/ Spanish sources and cultural resources from French/ Spanish speaking countries;
– To develop students into global citizens by supporting them to develop outstanding character and to engage with education and the wider world responsibly and with curiosity. We do this in MFL by teaching pupils about the culture, traditions and customs of French/ Spanish speaking countries and other countries around the world.
The MFL curriculum actively promotes British Values and there is a strong emphasis on promoting cultural values and traditions of other countries and global citizenship. By gaining an appreciation of the countries where the language the students are studying is spoken, students are encouraged to reflect on other cultures and ways of life and embrace socio-cultural and economic differences and contexts. This ensures that they remain open to the world around them and have a better grasp of the links and connections between countries and societies. This in turn, emphasises the need for tolerance and justice, and through their studies, our pupils come to value the rule of law and democratic systems that European countries and countries further afield enjoy, despite the varied customs, festivals and national characteristics that makes every society so unique.
Language learning is very demanding and requires resilience and perseverance; students are explicitly taught the need for continual practice to develop their skills as a linguist. Although teachers and students will strive for accuracy, mistakes are an integral part of learning a language and students are encouraged to learn from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others, which must be done in a mutually respectful way.
Key Stage 3 builds on the foundations of foreign language learning that have been taught at Key Stage 2. Pupils can relate easily to discussing themselves, their family, school, leisure, holidays, technology and town. These topics provide opportunities for free expression and creativity and activities which should motivate and stimulate pupils. There is also an opportunity to begin to examine the differences in the languages both culturally and linguistically. Furthermore, these topics are studied in more detail at GCSE which enables the ability to progress when moving onto KS4.
Pupils move from just talking about themselves in the present tense in Year 7 to being able to talk about others and in different tenses into Year 8. The topics are more challenging as students’ progress, but it is expected that pupils can recall and use knowledge from previous terms/years when completing extended writing. For example, by the end of Year 8, pupils should be able to do a piece of extended writing covering elements of themselves, family, leisure, school, town and holidays, whilst using a range of tenses. Teachers at Key Stage 3 will ensure that previous knowledge is built upon and is not forgotten.
Year 7: By the end of Year 7 students will use the present tense with regular and key irregular verbs. Pupils need to know a range of basics well including numbers, days, months, time, opinions and reasons and can confidently talk about themselves in detail.
Year 8: By the end of Year 8 students will have a good knowledge of how to form the near future and basic perfect tense. They will be able to discuss holidays and how to describe a future and past trip. This relates to the Year 8 France residential that pupils can attend. Pupils will also be able to discuss technology and how they spend their time with their friends. They begin to be able to speak French in more authentic settings e.g. directions, ordering in a shop and tourist information.
Pupils begin study of the GCSE programme of study in Year 9. This is to allow time for pupils to cover most of the content in Year 9 and 10 and allows for more focus on the linguistic skills in Year 11. This ensures our students are prepared for further study of a language at A Level and beyond.
At Key Stage 4 the course follows the course textbook. The topics run in order of the course book thematically and become more challenging as pupils move through the course. Pupils focus on certain modules for different skills. For example, presentations on Module 1 and strong speaking focus in modules 4,5, 6 and 7. Being tactical about which modules to focus on orally gives pupils a better chance of success in the speaking exam. At times pupils are taught skills and they learn to apply them across a range of themes. This mirrors the rigour they will need when sitting their exams.
Pupils will be taught to:
– Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding;
– Explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words;
– Engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help;
– Speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures;
– Develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases;
– Present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences;
– Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing;
– Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language;
– Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary;
– Write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
– Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing;
– Understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.
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