Modern Foreign Languages

At present, we teach three European languages, French, German and Spanish to A level standard and since the academic year 2016-17 we are also teaching Mandarin Chinese as part of the MEP programme. We pride ourselves in inspiring our students to discover other languages and cultures with a broad and open mind: it is fun, it gives them confidence in dealing with other people, it helps them make friends abroad, it develops learning skills, it looks good on their CV, it broadens their horizons, just to name a few reasons for studying languages! We organise regular Exchanges or Trips for the Upper School and Sixth Form and Work Experiences for Year 13 students whenever possible for our three European languages; we also run Language Clubs at lunch times and organise yearly Curriculum Enrichment Days.

Most of our language staff are native speakers. We are very pleased to be able to use a Digital Multimedia Language Laboratory, which is enhancing our Upper School and Sixth Form students’ learning.

In the Lower School for all Modern Foreign Languages, the focus lies on building the foundations in vocabulary and grammar knowledge. The progress of the students is regularly assessed in the four skill areas: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Teaching methods include regular use of audio files or CDs, worksheets, group and pair work, the Interactive Whiteboards and authentic resources such as films, songs, literature and online video clips. The group work and pair work help students to practise, develop and revise what they have learnt.

In the Upper School, in Year 9 the emphasis on written work and the use of a wider vocabulary and a range of grammar structures is increased.  By the end of Year 9, we recommend that all students choose at least one Modern Foreign Language, e.g. French, Spanish or German in line with the E-Bac recommendations. Students may pick either of the Modern Foreign Languages which they are currently studying or choose whichever they feel more confident about.  Already in Year 9, we begin to include more GCSE resources and teach the students towards GCSE level to enhance their skills and knowledge, following the 9-1 Edexcel GCSE syllabus.

In the Sixth Form, students wishing to study one or two foreign languages at A Level require grades 7, 8 or 9 at GCSE, or a recommendation from their individual teachers if they achieve a grade 6. They also need to have a good grasp of grammar and enjoy speaking in and listening to the foreign language.  We have also been offering a lesson of Mandarin a week to Sixth Formers wishing to study basic Mandarin on a voluntary basis and as an extension to their skills.

In Years 12 and 13, we follow the Eduqas examination syllabus in Spanish and the Edexcel syllabus in French and German. This A Level specification will provide a sufficient basis for the further study of languages at degree level or equivalent as well as open the doors to top universities. Most careers will be enhanced when a Modern Foreign Language has been studied to A Level standard.  In Mandarin, the students have the chance to sit the HSK 1 examination in Year 12 and continue to the HSK 2 examination in Year 13, which both evidence a good basic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.

MFL Assessment Policy 2019-20

We aim to assess our students’ attainment and progress in listening, reading, writing and speaking regularly to improve their learning and facilitate their further progress.

With the introduction of the 9-1 GCSE course, which is a linear course that assesses the students’ learning over the years in one final examination, it is important to be able to learn effectively and apply learnt knowledge correctly, which will be vital.

In order to prepare our students for this type of examination and therefore supporting their learning skills for all their GCSE examinations, we set learning homework regularly and the students show that they can apply their learning practically every two to three weeks. These practices will be about 10-20 minutes long and will be made up of 2 tasks. The overall aims of the homework are to familiarise students with learning and memorisation techniques and to give them the opportunity to apply their knowledge more holistically.

We follow the homework guidelines for Modern Foreign Languages of Mayfield Grammar School:

Yr 7: 3 x 20 min per fortnight / Mandarin: more homework to achieve the requirements of the accelerated course

Yr 8: 2 x 20 min per week

Yr 9: 2 x 30 min per week

Yr 10 & Yr 11: 2 x 40 min per week

Much of the homework set will be learning homework which can consist of a range of different tasks, be it to revise and practise vocabulary and grammar or listening, reading and writing. The teacher will set the learning homework and will make it clear to the students that they will have successfully learnt if they are able to apply the knowledge correctly. This homework may not be immediately assessed or collected for marking in the next lesson, but the teachers will assess the students’ learning in practices. They will give them feedback on whether they are performing below, on or above expectations, whether the learning they do as homework is sufficient, and they will set the students targets on what they need to work on to improve or make further progress.

Teachers will also set other types of homework, such as a writing task in order for the students to practise their writing skills.

When returning the practices, teachers will give students time at the beginning of the lesson to work on corrections and targets and will offer students help and guidance if needed. This will enable students to become more independent learners, which is an essential skill for examinations and life in general as the difference between high and low achievement lies in a student and his/her will to improve.