At The Whitehaven Academy, we teach French, German and Spanish at KS3.
Modern Foreign Languages are compulsory at KS3 and KS4 are offered as a GCSE subject.
Why study Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)?
Language learning is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences. In our language lessons, we not only learn a language, but we also learn social skills, team work skills, communication skills, confidence and flexibility to name but a few. These are all key attributes that future employers will look for. When applying for jobs, speaking another language is very advantageous – you are more likely to be successful and get the job you have always dreamed of!
We want our students to be able to communicate with people from around the world as well as develop an understanding of different cultures. Students are taught about the cultures of countries where their language is spoken and are actively encouraged to spend time researching this themselves. We want to ensure that languages are accessible, yet challenging, so more students opt to study languages past the compulsory years. As a result, our curriculum is ambitious; our students are taught complex grammar and structures from year 7 onwards in an engaging and scaffolded manner.
Key Stage 3
In Years 7-9 students learn the necessary skills to be able to communicate in either French, German or Spanish. Our curriculum is planned as a five-year course, based upon research by key professionals in the MFL field.
We focus on core phonological sounds to ensure that our students feel confident in speaking the foreign language. We then introduce parallel texts and sentence builders to support students and build up their reading, writing and speaking skills. The aim of this is to expose students to language in a similar way to when they were babies- they learn through repetition and accurate modelling. We learn vocabulary in chunks, rather than individual words (we try to avoid traditional style grammar lessons at this stage) – this is to help aid the retention of the language through memorisation.
All our lessons and homework involve retrieval practice, to aid in the retention of this key language. Our parallel texts focus on key language and structures. Students are repeatedly exposed to these key structures so they can commit this to memory and prepare them for GCSE and beyond.
Key Stage 4
In Years 10 and 11 we regularly interleave all of the topics covered in KS3 with the AQA GCSE specification content, so that students can see a use to all language in a range of topics. We teach our students using parallel texts and sentence builders, as well as through using a range of GCSE style tasks, where language is repeated and recycled. At this stage, we have grammar lessons where we explicitly teach the grammar. However, this is done through texts and audios in which this grammar can be seen in practice.
A range of topics are covered under the three themes of: Identity and Culture; Local, national, international and global areas of interest and Current and future study and employment.
All four skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) will be assessed at the end of Year 11. Students can be entered for either Foundation (grades 1-5) or Higher tier (grades 4-9), but must enter the same tier for all four skills. Each exam is worth 25%, meaning all exams are equally weighted.
Each language has specific allocated marking points throughout the year. All members of staff teaching the same language will give students the same assessment at the same time. This is so that we can moderate within and across languages, so that we can maintain high standards and ensure these are being achieved in the different skills.
Possible Career Pathways
Learning a language at GCSE opens doors to further and higher education. There are lots of different careers in which knowing a language is a great advantage, for example: interpreter, translator, teacher, political risk analyst, language analyst at GCHQ, journalist, flight attendant, accountant and civil servant.