MFL Curriculum

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Due to the current situation, departmental curriculum plans are not currently available.

Here is the Cowley COVID resuming plan as an interim guide.

Curriculum aim 

Our key intent for Modern Languages at Cowley International College is to enable each pupil to have the experience of learning a foreign language whereby they can achieve success in a supportive learning environment through the development of practical communication skills, positive attitudes to the native speakers of the chosen language and a lasting enjoyment of the language and associated culture and traditions.

We want our learners to be familiar with a body of knowledge, principles, skills and vocabulary in the language studied and to ensure that they see language learning as not only a cultural feature but also as part of a wider body of knowledge with more general application e.g. memorising, scanning texts for information, analysis of data. It also serves to enrich pupils’ use of their mother tongue through comparison of the language and culture of another country.

Through their language acquisition, we want our learners to develop personal qualities and an awareness of themselves.  They can also then see their own culture in the context of a wider world and be aware of the implications of the language for the individual and the local, national and international community.

Curriculum structure

MFL teaching at Cowley is interactive, challenging and aims to enable students to become resilient, confident communicators, which are invaluable skills that they will need throughout their school career and beyond.

The aim of the KS3 course is to introduce (or further embed, if KS2 MFL experience allows) pupils to knowledge of vocabulary and grammatical structures that underpin language learning skills that they can apply to learning other foreign languages in the future.  All pupils study either French or German in Year 7, 8 and 9.  Setting in year 7 is based on KS2 scaled scores and CAT data (sets are generic across subjects).  The option for taking Spanish is available for Year 9 pupils. The core curriculum takes learners through ‘the basics’, further embedding any know-how gained at KS2 and ensuring pupils can use the most common vocabulary and structures with confidence.   At GCSE, approximately 50-55% of the cohort will continue to study MFL.  The learning plans are designed to recap knowledge at the beginning of each module and then build on that through targeted skills development (e.g. for translation or role-play).  Teaching is based on a differentiated course (Foundation or Higher) with online access and teachers use a wide range of strategies and resources to suit all learning styles and needs.

Learners are given access to the same core materials, which are differentiated according to need. Core areas are revisited throughout the programmes of study in order to embed and develop learning each time it is revisited.  Independent study is fostered through regular homework tasks (both paper-based and online if appropriate) to review, practise, consolidate and extend classroom based learning.

Learners are challenged in their language lessons through use of the target language when appropriate for regular communication and the skills are balanced throughout the lessons. Use of authentic texts, video, songs provide a context for genuine relevance and understanding.  Structures and grammatical teaching is carried out in context and regularly revisited throughout the learning programmes with a strong literacy focus.

The depth of coverage should equip our learners to be able to use their skills in leisure, travel or work-related situations or be able to continue to higher study.  At A level, lesson are taught with frequent recourse to the cultural and political sphere of that country. The textbook uses authentic texts and listening exercises using native speakers speaking at normal speed.  A-Level teachers prepare and deliver engaging and stimulating lessons using the target language. Knowledge of the language is deepened through the regular study of specific grammar points that complement the area of study.

Students’ knowledge of the foreign country is extended beyond the language to study elements of architecture, music, film and literary works. A book and film are studied in depth and make up one paper on the A level exam.

Resources are designed to build upon and extend skills learnt at GCSE. An online resource bank is available and the work covered in class is supplemented by an A level grammar textbook.

The curriculum enables students to communicate at near to native level and the use of books and films in the target language develop students’ understanding of the language. The speaking element (Individual Research Project) of the A level paper is wholly student led, according to the AQA spec, thereby promoting the necessary skills required for HE/FE.

Curriculum in action

Curriculum Beyond the Classroom
The MFL department has run many trips, visits and projects over the years to allow our learners to use their language skills in authentic situations and to experience the culture of the target language countries. We have very strong links with two schools in Germany which visit Cowley regularly, and with whom we contact using video-conferencing and links with local feeder primary schools.  In the last two years alone, we run trips to Stuttgart, Berlin, Strasbourg, Poland, Munich – often these projects are run with cross-curricular links, with history and art for example.  Forthcoming visits are planned for Paris and the Black Forest. We have run Comenius projects in the past and are about to embark on a further project with Finland and Germany. Learners are encouraged to communicate via Pen-pal links or on social media with partners that they have connected with during the regular school visits by our link schools from Germany. Our links to Stuttgart – our twin town – are very strong and Cowley was instrumental in the recent 70th anniversary of the partnership of the towns – again linking languages with Performing Arts.

In addition, learners are given opportunity to attend ‘Language matters’ events for them to hear visiting speakers regarding life opportunities with languages.

Subject Expertise
The MFL team are highly qualified linguists with a passion for language learning and a commitment to supporting pupils to achieve their goals, both academic and through extra-curricular activities and visits.

The HOD runs the Local authority School to School MFL network to support and develop good practice across the authority.

External CPD is regularly sought out and attended, including specific language issues and general pedagogy and AQA training with is disseminated during twilight sessions and departmental Teaching, and Learning meetings.

Two members of the department have experience of being examination board markers for AQA which affords invaluable insight into the GCSE examination format and demands

We are involved in MFL online forums where good practice and ideas are regularly shared within the department

All members of the department are degree level qualified in one or more language and are teaching at their expertise level in each language.

Learners arrive at Cowley International College with great variance in their language learning and we offer a transition phase in year 7 to try and overcome this. Throughout the year, we are represented in year 5 and 6 transition days, year 8 choices events, year 10 taster days and year 12 new student intake day to ensure that learners are aware of the role that languages can play in each phase of their education.

Our curriculum content contains elements of careers education at KS3 and GCSE with specific modules addressing future plans and life beyond school. ‘Language Matters’ conference is designed to provide specific outside guidance for life opportunities with MFL.