Principles and Purpose of our MFL Curriculum
“Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. A high-quality
languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should
enable pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers,
both in speech and in writing. It should also provide opportunities for them to communicate for practical purposes,
learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the original language. Language teaching should provide the
foundation for learning further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries.”
(DfE, MFL, September 2013).
To learn another language is to explore different facets of your identity. It is a way of expressing yourself that goes beyond the words and social expectations that you have grown up with. It can be an appreciation of, or an escape from, the cultures and habits that you are accustomed to. It can also be a literal escape to work in another country or study abroad.
For linguists, who study speech sounds and grammatical structures, it can be a science. But for poets, writers and translators, carefully choosing the perfect words to convey their particular messages, it can be an art form. Indeed, to quote anthropologist-linguist Edward Sapir: “Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.” MFL is for extroverts, who want to showcase their communication skills, introverts who are happier sitting at home with a book, analysing the origins of words, and everyone in between. Study MFL at The Regis School for the chance to add your own ingenuity to the creativity of thousands of generations.
The following principles have informed the planning of our MFL curriculum:
- Entitlement: Our MFL curriculum covers the National Curriculum. We have added to the content covered by the National Curriculum, but we have not removed any content specified in the National Curriculum. Languages are an EBacc subject, meaning that having a GCSE in French or Spanish is considered essential to many degrees and can open doors to more opportunities when leaving school. We want every child to have the option and relevant skills to gain that qualification if they desire to.
- Coherence: We sequence our units to introduce knowledge and new ideas in a way that begins with the simplest and builds to the more complex, based around the three pillars of grammar, vocabulary and phonics. We use Sentence Builders and lexical chunking to ensure that pupils learn the key phrases they need to construct sentences and attempt some form of communication in the language studied, from the very basic to the more advanced.
- Mastery: Learning is “a change in long-term memory” (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2016). In order to achieve that change, students need opportunities to recall key vocabulary and grammar, therefore every MFL lesson begins with a long-, short- and medium-term recall starter, followed by a vocab review. Reviewing prior knowledge is threaded throughout all the units we teach, with concepts and skills revisited, built upon, and developed in new contexts across key stages.
- Adaptability: Whilst all students study the same ambitious curriculum, each teacher adapts the template lesson (co-planned within the department and based around United Learning resources) to ensure learning is maximised for all students in their particular class. For example, the individual teacher may change the extent to which tasks are scaffolded using sentence builders, or they may decide to re-teach an aspect of knowledge that students have not fully mastered, if identified through formative feedback.
- Representation: not only is learning somebody else’s language a way to explore your identity while actively celebrating and embracing diversity, the topics studied provide ample opportunity to find out about a range of people and places. For example, when we study role models in year 7, we look at inspirational figures such as Malala Yousafzai and Rio Mavuba. When we study holidays and cuisine in year 8, we look at destinations and dishes in French and Spanish speaking countries, such as Lake Retba in Senegal and Ndolé, a national dish of Cameroon. When we study festivals and celebrations in year 9, pupils enjoy learning about the Día de los Muertos in Mexico.
- Education with character: The MFL curriculum raises several culturally significant questions which students will want to explore in ways that go beyond the curriculum. We encourage teachers to respond sensitively to these and use their professional judgement to help students to reflect and have informed opinions on these.
For more information regarding the curriculum content, ‘what we teach, why it is taught and when’ please view our curriculum maps below.
To access additional learning resources to support students learning in MFL please refer to Knowledge Organiser (KS3), The Regis SP (KS4) and our primary learning platforms Active Learn and Quizlet.