Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

The MFL department, in keeping with the whole school ethos of embracing higher performance learning, aims to create and develop enthusiastic and independent learners. We are committed to establishing a learning environment that encourages students to feel confident about taking risks and developing informed opinions about the world around them. Our curriculum focuses on learning, rather than teaching; we want students to reflect on and enhance their skills, ask questions, recognize patterns, make comparisons and enjoy the challenge. We aim to support students to understand other countries and cultures so that they can be more open and adaptable to new experiences; ensuring that each topic contains an element of cultural reference. The department is committed to developing strong, lifelong linguistic skills and to encourage students to become curious and interested in the world.  Ultimately, we want our students to have a love of languages and aim to achieve this by nurturing a linguistic curiosity and an intrinsic motivation to explore and respect other cultures and people.

Curriculum design, teaching and learning             

The MFL Department is a dynamic, passionate, and enthusiastic department; a collaborative and creative approach to teaching and learning is embedded within the daily practice and future planning. The department endeavours to make learning languages fun and meaningful, providing students with many opportunities for both collaboration and independent work in each lesson.

All four skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening) are covered in every unit and opportunities to revisit key skills, in different ways, are built into students’ learning journeys.  Grammar is the foundation for building language skills. Learning grammar enables students to speak and write more accurately, confidently and fluently.  Consequently, grammar skills are taught explicitly through every unit of work, and regularly revisited; emphasis is on equipping students with the linguistic skills to unpick and decode unfamiliar language.

Lessons are engaging and seen as bricks in the ever-growing bridge of language learning. We strongly feel that students need to be involved in tasks they find interesting in an environment where active and successful learning is encouraged. Competitions, technology and quizzes keep motivation levels high in lessons.  The MFL department has high expectations for all students and the climate for learning encompasses the contributions of all abilities; we trust in the success of each student. A range of strategies, such as group talk, think-pair-share, learning buddies, role plays is employed to create a classroom culture where learning from others is valued.

Learning in the classroom is enhanced through self-study homework tasks, which are set twice every week, and consist of vocabulary learning, grammar learning, extended writing tasks, exam practice, and quizzes.        

Students need to be resilient language learners.  Within the MFL classroom, we consistently emphasise that it is ok to make mistakes. We believe where students learn is in deciding how they move on from these errors. This open environment allows students to grow in confidence and not feel intimidated in speaking out in front of the class.  Opportunities for reflection are built-in at regular intervals, and the curriculum is designed to build students’ independence.

With skilled native and non-native linguists in the department, we endeavour to challenge our students by using a high ratio of the target language. It is one of our aims to expose students to as much authentic language as possible through the classroom teacher, and the use of videos and audio materials. Using the target language ensures that students are hearing authentic language each time they are in the MFL classroom and by immersing them in the target language we aim to help them use it more independently and this will lead to increased confidence and a wider vocabulary.              

The BSA MFL team 

The MFL department consists of 4 full-time teachers of French and a part-time teacher of German.

The KS3 Learning Landscape in MFL

Students at KS3 continue with the French learned at Primary School.

Grammar and vocabulary

KS3 Students are taught to become determined, reflective, independent and enquiring linguists who:

  • identify and use tenses or other structures which convey the present, past, and future as appropriate to the language being studied
  • use and manipulate a variety of key grammatical structures and patterns, including voices and moods, as appropriate
  • develop and use a wide-ranging and deepening vocabulary that goes beyond their immediate needs and interests, allowing them to give and justify opinions and take part in a discussion about wider issues
  • use accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Linguistic competence

The BSA language learner is introduced to the concept of becoming a ‘Global Citizen’ in a world where there is diversity not division. They begin to develop the ability to:

  • listen to a variety of forms of spoken language to obtain information and respond appropriately
  • transcribe words and short sentences that they hear with increasing accuracy
  • initiate and develop conversations, coping with unfamiliar language and unexpected responses, making use of important social conventions such as formal modes of address
  • express and develop ideas clearly and with increasing accuracy, both orally and in writing
  • speak coherently and confidently, with increasingly accurate pronunciation and intonation
  • read and show comprehension of original and adapted materials from a range of different sources, understanding the purpose, important ideas and details
  • read short literary texts in the language [such as stories, songs, poems and letters], to stimulate ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture
  • write prose using an increasingly wide range of grammar and vocabulary, write creatively to express their own ideas and opinions

The KS3 half termly assessment schedule is defined by a need to replicate the high expectations at KS4 allowing students to make rapid progress in all skill areas; listening, reading, writing and speaking.

The KS4 language learning platform

They develop their ability and ambition to communicate with native speakers in speech and writing. IGCSE MFL learning also broadens students’ horizons and encourages them to step beyond familiar cultural boundaries and develop new ways of seeing the world; becoming a compassionate and resilient Global Citizen.

Subject aims and learning outcomes

The International Cambridge course for both languages taught at BSA incorporates the latest IGCSE specifications and enables students to:

  • develop their ability to communicate confidently and coherently with native speakers in speech and writing, conveying what they want to say with increasing accuracy
  • express and develop thoughts and ideas spontaneously and fluently
  • listen to and understand clearly articulated, standard speech at near normal speed
  • deepen their knowledge about how language works and enrich their vocabulary in order for them to increase their independent use and understanding of extended language in a wide range of contexts
  • acquire new knowledge, skills and ways of thinking through the ability to understand and respond to a rich range of authentic spoken and written material, adapted and abridged, as appropriate, including short literary texts for the more able
  • develop awareness and understanding of the culture and identity of the countries and communities where the language is spoken
  • develop language learning skills both for immediate use and to prepare them for further language study in higher education or in employment
Ms Jackie Jones
Head of Languages