Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela
Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) are an important part of our young people’s education. There are so many clear personal, cultural, social, and career benefits in being able to communicate confidently in another language that every child in our school should have the chance from this young age to develop their own modern foreign language skills. We want our pupils to be enthusiastic, engaged and challenged, and to develop their ability to use and understand another language. Our MFL curriculum also aims at encouraging the awareness of our pupils of what lies behind a different language, enhancing the richness and the diversity of different culture by using authentic resources as well as making links with pupils from different countries.
All pupils in the school study French and in their lessons, our pupils will gain systematic knowledge of key vocabulary and structures, grammar and phonics of the new language, and a better understanding of how these are used by French speakers. We want to develop confident and independent pupils who are not afraid to communicate in a different language.
Although we offer mainly French to all our pupils, we feel that it is important that our language teaching gives them explicit language knowledge and strategies which can help them with future study of other languages.
All pupils are taught all four skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing and each of these skill areas are practised, consolidated, reinforced and assessed on a regular basis. There is a positive and innovative approach to target language teaching and we encourage our pupils to use the language for their own purposes. At BHA, teachers of MFL want to promote a more spontaneous and accurate use of the target language.
We want to develop our pupils’ independence and communication in languages by developing these core skills:
- Vocabulary and sequencing (including verbs)
- Knowledge of phonics
- Explicit use and understanding of grammar
- Use of enriching and stimulating material, including reading of authentic resources, films and French pen friends.
In Year Six, pupils have three lessons per fortnight where they are introduced to the language and develop or reinforce phonics, basic topics and language skills with key phrases and structures.
In Year Seven, pupils also have three lessons a fortnight. Topics include sports and hobbies, places in town, school and food, whilst learning how to become more confident with the language, adapting and developing the language with use of opinions, connectives, time phrases, and the use of different tenses.
Year Eight pupils have four lessons a fortnight and cover various topics such as shopping, holidays and family topics, whilst developing a deeper understanding of grammar points, including all three different tenses.
All pupils in year 7 and 8 have a French pen friend from our partner school in France: le collège Mauboussin in Mamers. Every year, we aim at exchanging 3 letters where pupils introduce themselves, write about their hobbies and personal interest, describe their school day and their towns, share what they did or are planning to do in their next holidays. Our pupils love these opportunities and take a lot of pride in writing beautifully presented and detailed letters in the target language. They also are really looking forward to receive letters and to find out more about the lives of their French peers.
Our year 8 pupils have the opportunity to learn German in addition to French. Each tutor group is offered a term of German lessons as part of the Wednesday afternoon enrichment programme. Topics covered include greetings, numbers, colours and animals as well as cultural events such as the Oktoberfest and St Nikolaus Festival. There are additional German conversation sessions provided for the Year 7 and 8 pupils who will visit Austria as ambassadors for our Erasmus partnership. The pupils can also correspond with students from schools in Austria and Germany and we regularly take part in the ‘Host a Teacher from Germany’ programme.
Colourful, fun and great practice for Years 6, 7 and 8.
Please ask your French teacher for our school login so that you can access these handy activities at home. Fancy a challenge? Have a go at the Spanish, German or Italian sections of the website!
www.languagesonline.com is free and great to reinforce grammar points and verbs in the different tenses.
Each year, we organise a 5 days Trip to Normandy for our Year 7. Typically, over 50 pupils take part, experiencing language activities, such as visiting a typical French market, following a town trail. We also spend a whole day in our partner school where pupils get to meet their pen friends and eat in the school canteen. We also explore places of cultural and historical interest: the Medieval castle in Fougères and the Mont-Saint-Michel. Our pupils’ favourite is also the visit to the goat cheese farm.
By the end of Year 8, pupils have become more independent in their use of the language and can adapt a variety of key phrases and express opinions with increasing spontaneity. Pupils across all year groups are engaged and enjoying their lessons and are feeling that they are progressing well. They respond especially keenly to finding out about pupils in France and Austria and are motivated to use their language skills to either meet or write to their penpals.
The data from ongoing observation of in-class activities such as role-plays, listening and reading comprehension and written exercises help the MFL teachers monitor the pupils’ understanding, knowledge and skills and inform planning that is suitable for supporting and challenging the pupils at every stage of their progress. Summative assessment in listening, reading, writing and speaking also takes place at the end of each unit of work in order to track pupils’ performance against their end of year expectations, with interventions being implemented as necessary.
Exit data for pupils Working At or Above was 80.5% with 26% achieving a Working Above in 2015-2016
Exit data for pupils Working At or Above was 81% with 31% achieving a Working Above in 2016-2017.
Exit data for pupils Working At or Above was 82% with 25% achieving a Working Above in 2017-2018.
Finally, our International work both within the MFL curriculum and across the wider school environment has been recognised and commended by the British Council through the International School Award. We have also received two eTwinning Quality Labels and two European Labels for our last two projects, recognising our collaboration with different European schools, using French as language of communication.