Modern Foreign Languages
WHY ARE WE TEACHING A KNOWLEDGE-RICH CURRICULUM? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
Learning a Modern Foreign Language through a Knowledge Rich Curriculum enables our pupils to build a comprehensive body of words and phrases which they are able to understand and adapt for different situations. Lessons are designed to include a range of exercises using new vocabulary presented in a variety of ways, to enable pupils to acquire knowledge of the language and thus learn more effectively.
The curriculum is taught through the four key skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing, giving pupils the opportunity to recognise and familiarise themselves with key aspects of the language, building on what they learn in one skill to transfer to another. Rather than simply learning lists of words, by revisiting vocabulary with both a short and long term frequency, pupils increase their understanding and develop their ability to use it more effectively.
WHY ARE WE TEACHING THIS CONTENT?
We have chosen to follow a course that is knowledge rich as it provides our pupils with the building blocks and understanding needed to be successful communicators in a Modern Foreign Language.
The content covers information and exercises designed to engage pupils through topics and ideas with which they are already familiar, including the use of high frequency language, such as connectives and opinion phrases. Pupils are able to see that the content is relevant to real life situations (such as ordering a drink in a café), practising their language learning through role play as well as through the written word. Our aim is to enable pupils to become competent and confident linguists, who also have a good knowledge and understanding of another culture, both of which are achieved through the knowledge rich curriculum.
WHY ARE WE TEACHING IT IN THIS ORDER?
Our curriculum begins in Year 7 with the familiar (‘Myself’), through topics such as Family, Free Time and School, whilst also considering relevant Cultural events. This enables pupils to learn and apply their knowledge across a wide spectrum. In later years, these topics are revisited, increasing the level of grammatical knowledge.
In Year 7, learning focuses on the Present Tense, including key verbs which are needed to create Future and Past Tenses, which will then be learnt in Years 8 & 9. Verbs are continually assessed through quizzes, vocabulary tests and other activities, thus ensuring solid understanding. By Year 9, as pupils’ understanding of the world around them has developed, topics have expanded to include Technology and the Environment, giving scope for expressing more complex ideas.
WHAT DO PUPILS NEED TO REMEMBER AND BE ABLE TO DO IN THIS SUBJECT?
Knowledge of vocabulary, both as single words and phrases, is crucial. This is helped by regular vocabulary tests, with rewards linked to individual success. As well as being able to understand the written word, pupils need to be able to understand what they hear and how to pronounce the words and phrases they have learnt, as per the four key skills.
Knowledge is built up over the years, beginning with simple sentences which are then added to, for example, from saying, “I like playing tennis with my friends,” to “My brother often likes to go skiing and last year he visited the Alps.” Connections are also made with English learning, as in this example, where the pupil needs to be able to use a range of tenses correctly.
WHAT METHODS DO WE USE TO HELP PUPILS SECURE THIS KNOWLEDGE IN LONG-TERM MEMORY?
Throughout each year, the curriculum is structured to help to secure pupils’ knowledge through regular revisiting of words and phrases, to ensure these are retained in long-term memory. Frequently used vocabulary is used and tested across all four skills, emphasising its use in both written and oral work.
Pupils are encouraged to look back in their earlier work, textbooks or Knowledge Organisers to retrieve prior knowledge. In addition, writing is aided by the use of scaffolding or sentence builder tables - these enable pupils to see how they may turn phrases they already know into more detailed pieces of text. At all stages, pupils are encouraged to read aloud or speak the language, thus embedding the sounds of the written words. Online quizzes and websites are also used to encourage learning through fun activities.
To view the MFL Curriculum Overview click here.
More information on the MFL Department can be found here.