MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES CURRICULUM STATEMENT
The Modern Foreign Languages curriculum at King's will aim to give every student the opportunity to develop their communication skills by using oral and written communication in the target language. The purpose of the curriculum is to create confident communicators who will be able to take on the challenges of the exams they sit in the first instance but also the world of work, wherever it may take them. We also aim to create tolerant and reflective world citizens with an awareness of foreign cultures and ways of life and develop students’ curiosity in the cultures outside the British Isles in general and the countries where the Target Language is spoken in particular.
We want students to become confident, effective global communicators and world citizens. In order to achieve this goal, we will give students the opportunity to:
- communicate in the target language through speaking and writing;
- collaborate with others;
- use authentic material;
- develop work ready skills;
- enjoy language learning.
In order to be successful, we would like students to show the following:
- engagement: take part in all activities;
- learn vocabulary regularly – little and often;
- be curious, ask questions, develop your own opinion;
- demonstrate resilience and independence: always have a go;
- work with others, respect all differences.
Students need to develop good learning habits in their MFL lessons. We make sure that learning vocabulary regularly is being encouraged at KS3 so that we have efficient learners at KS4 and beyond. We advise them on techniques for learning earlier on at KS3 so that all students can hone their learning skills before the end of the key stage.
Developing resilience is a must when learning a foreign language. Students become self-motivated and individual leaders of their learning. We encourage students to become more independent when adapting language structures they have learned through grammar lessons. For example, using the past tense in different contexts (different topics). This allows teachers to revisit key grammar points several times throughout every year.
When learning a new language, we offer students the opportunities to view the world through a different set of values and a different point of view. We explore cultural awareness every year but as the students grow older, we increasingly give them the opportunities to challenge themselves with new text types, new points of view (be it from the Francophone or German-Speaking communities’ points of view). Students are given the opportunity to look at different cultures and festivals right from KS3 until KS5.
Throughout their time in MFL, students will have plenty of opportunity to show their personal best; we have formative assessments throughout and a summative assessment at the end of each term / topic. At the end of Year 8 and the beginning of Year 9, we also ask students to have a look at multi-lingualism and multiculturalism with a Unit of work called “We are Multilingual” where they can reflect on the benefits of learning a different language and living in a multicultural society.
At Key Stage 3
Year 7 French and Year 8 German students will gradually go from learnt words, phrases or sentences to understanding and producing longer pieces of language including opinions and contrasting ideas introduced by different conjunctions. We start with the study of the present tense which is developed throughout the year (starting with high frequency verbs, regular verbs, reflexive verbs and high frequency irregular verbs). By the end of the year, we start introducing the near future tense in the last term as they have practiced the verb 'aller' at that point in Year 7 French.
In Year 8, we continue our work on the future tense and start the past tense (in both languages). Again, students are working through increasingly difficult texts using some of the conjunctions they have learnt previously and applying they knowledge of verbs and tenses.
In Year 9, students revisit some of the topics studied in previous years making sure they expand their vocabulary by introducing another dimension to the topic. For example, they have studied the topic of 'my town' in Year 7 French and Year 8 German, and they revisit the topic at the start of Year 9 (in both languages), also discussing the environmental problems there might be in their town. They will revisit the topics of sport and food with a particular focus on healthy living and habits. Finally, they will revisit the topic of leisure activities with an emphasis on the digital world and the pros and cons of the cyber society.
At Key Stage 4
By the time they start at KS4, all of the topics studied for GCSE have already been introduced and students have had the opportunity to practise grammar in all three time frames, and are familiar with the necessity to vary vocabulary in their own production.
In Year 10, we start with the opportunity to revise all three major tenses (the present tense of regular verbs and some high frequency irregulars, the perfect tense, the near future and the future simple). Higher students at that point might start using the imperfect tense with increasing awareness of the nuances between the perfect and the imperfect.
The AQA GCSE specification is divided into three main subject areas called themes. Our schemes of Learning are divided up in the same way. Each theme is divided into four topics, making a total of twelve topics to study during the two-year course. Each topic taught will include activities for the students to practise and increase confidence in the following:
- learning vocabulary
- translation skills
- building grammar knowledge
- dealing with authentic texts
The exam is divided up according to the four language skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each one of these has its own separate exam in the form of an end of course paper.
At Key Stage 5
The AQA A-Level specification is divided into four themes. Each theme is divided into three sub-themes making a total of twelve sub-themes to study over the two years. Themes 1 and 2 are studied in Year 12 and themes 3 and 4 are studied in Year 13.
Each sub-theme will include activities for students to practise their skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Some of the preparation for the speaking exam will be done with our French assistant. However, speaking activities will also feature in lessons with the teachers.
The coverage of the sub-themes will usually include:
- some anecdotal insight into facts / figures relating to each sub themes;
- grammar explanations, examples and practice taught in the context of the sub-theme;
- some key vocabulary (although students will be encouraged to explore families of words and synonyms independently);
- practice of translation skills into English and into the target language;
- practice of exam style questions.
Alongside the sub-themes, students will also study a film and a novel in the target language. Currently in French, students are studying 'La Haine' (a film by M. Kassovitz) and 'Un Sac De Billes' (a novel by Joseph Joffo). In German, students study 'Good Bye Lenin!' (a film by Wolfgang Becker) and a play by Dürrenmatt called 'Der Besuch der alten Dame'. Between Year 12 and 13, students are encouraged to read a novel on their own to work on their “reading stamina”.
Students enjoy studying languages at King’s and some students enjoy great success. In the last few years, numbers have been declining; however, the numbers of students opting to study a language at GCSE were good this year and have increased in September, with students who had opted to drop their language changing their mind at the start of Year 10. More number analysis will be carried out in the spring term to see if the residential we have put in place in order to increase motivation has had an impact on numbers.
Residential visits to France and Germany are a popular choice at KS3. Our original numbers for the Opal Coast trip had to be increased, and we still had a waiting list of students. We took 48 Year 9 French students to France in October 2022. Feedback from the students (and their parents) has been extremely positive. The German residential to Aachen at the end of the autumn term is taking 43 which is half of the students studying German.
Our KS4 and KS5 residential in Montpellier is also a popular option for our Year 10 and 12 students studying French.
Every year we organise competitions at all levels to increase students’ awareness of multiculturalism. Our bake-off competition in September has shown, for the first time, engagement from student at all Key Stages. Last year, Year 9 were very keen to take part in a recipe challenge in January.
Mr Arnaud Mandin (AGM): Head of Modern Languages Department and Teacher of French & German
Mrs Tina Streeter (THS): Head of KS3&4 German and Teacher of French
Mrs Fiona Attwell (FAA): Teacher of German
Mrs Emma Clarke (EJC): Teacher of French
Mrs Fiona Hopkins (FJH): Teacher of French
Mrs Jane Wilson (JLW): Teacher of French
Mrs Veronique Smyth (VLS): Foreign Language Assistant (French)