Modern Foreign Languages
At The Three Schools, we know that the study of a modern foreign language enhances children’s literacy, self-confidence and broader cultural understanding. International studies have also shown that foreign language learning increases critical thinking skills, creativity and flexibility of mind in young children. Our ambition to embed language learning within our curriculum is born of the statutory commitment in the National Curriculum to give every child between the ages of 7 and 11 the opportunity to learn a new language. With over 220 million speakers internationally, French is the second most widely learnt language after English. French is also the second most widely taught language after English- the only two languages spoken on every continent. As such, we took the decision to offer French from Year 3 to Year 6. However, we also offer a children an opportunity to learn the basics of German and Spanish when they reach Year 6 so that they have a good understanding of the similarities and differences in speaking, listening and writing across three languages. They will then be able to make a confident decision in their choice of language they wish to study as they move to secondary school.
The children at Swanbourne enjoy a wide range of games, rhymes, songs and interactive activities as they learn to listen, speak and write in French. They experience a range of language to listen to in lessons in addition to the teacher’s voice, including sound files and DVD’s with native speakers, both adults and children. They also develop a cultural awareness and understanding of France as we learn about and compare different festivals and traditions.
Language learning also provides frequent opportunities for role play and performing before an audience in a fun and encouraging environment and this nurtures pupils’ self-esteem and self-confidence and develops strong interpersonal skills.
At Swanbourne C of E School, the intention of our Modern Foreign Languages curriculum is to develop an interest in and thirst for learning other languages. We aim to introduce the learning of the French language and the understanding of its culture in enjoyable and stimulating ways. We hope to embed the essential skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing. We aim to build the children’s ‘culture capital’ so that they are aware of similarities and differences between cultures. In short, we hope to lay the foundations for future language learning.
Our MFL curriculum has been designed to progressively develop skills in French. We are currently using the Bucks scheme of work units to deliver our French lessons. These ensure children acquire a bank of vocabulary, organised around topics. They ensure development is progressive as they build on previous knowledge from units already studied.
Lessons are creative, allowing children with different learning strategies to enjoy learning a new language in many different ways. All children in KS2 are taught French in a weekly hourly lesson. This is delivered by a specialist teacher. Children are encouraged and supported to develop their speaking and listening skills through conversational work, singing activities and games. As confidence and skill grows, children record their work through pictures, captions and sentences.
Displays are used to remind children of key vocabulary, practical activities, songs and games are used to help improve memory and recall. In the classroom, whether possible instructions are given in French to expose children to the language as much as possible and day-to-day contexts. Visual prompts are used to support children in translating new vocabulary. Word mats and knowledge organisers are used by children tosupport their learning, revisit previously taught content and recall known information.
The success of French teaching at The Three Schools can be measured in the delight children take in expressing themselves in another language. By fostering a love for a place and culture beyond their immediate community serves to drive our belief in broadening the horizons of the children at The Three Schools.
A mixture of formative and summative assessment is employed to ensure progress throughout the Key Stage and the children are given regular opportunities throughout the year to showcase their learning in written form. Children’s progress against statutory knowledge and skills objectives is closely tracked and the subject leader monitors all year groups using a variety of strategies such as book scrutinies, lesson observations, staff discussions and pupil interviews. Feedback is given to teachers and leaders use the information to check if the children know more and remember more. We strive to ensure that our pupil’s attainment is in line or exceeds their potential when we consider the varied starting points of all our children. The progression girds used to plan and teach MFL ensure that children are accessing work at age related expectations, with regular opportunities to be challenged.
The rich learning experiences, in and out of class, guarantee that languages are celebrated and multiculturalism is championed throughout the school community, whilst providing a context for language learning and developing the children’s understanding of different cultures. Language is not only the mechanism of their learning but the key to their ambition and a conduit to their future.