Why is the Modern Foreign Languages curriculum as it is?
Bede Academy’s Christian ethos underpins our curriculum in Modern Foreign Languages. We believe that every person is made in the image of God, and we want all students at Bede Academy to foster an open-minded approach to richness of different cultures, and to appreciate and embrace the diversity in our world. We want to spark their imagination, and a sense of curiosity not just in the languages we teach, but also in the culture they come from and the people who speak these languages, as it is only when you understand a language’s basis in faith and culture that you can show true understanding. Language learning is a gift, but is also a complex skill, and we aim to enable students to rise to this challenge, and approach their use of words with care and precision, and value the power that words can have.
Our aim is to equip our students to become confident communicators with an insight into different cultures, which is fostered through the study of modern foreign languages, and we seek to do this though our development of an ambitious, engaging and connected curriculum accessible to all pupils right through from Reception to the end of Year 13. We believe that young people can benefit greatly through learning a Modern Foreign language and that they all have the potential to achieve. Our curriculum is designed so that students make progress in manageable steps, allowing their confidence and fluency to grow. In order to deepen students understanding, we revisit topics over the years, linking Primary MFL teaching to Secondary level where concepts are embedded and the students become able to express themselves in ever more sophisticated ideas through their language. Specialist vocabulary for topics is introduced within the context of a sentence, rather than in isolation. Language is built up gradually, and students are encouraged to both ask and answer questions. Students are to exposed to new language as much as possible and in many different ways in order to become familiar with words and phrases.
Through our curriculum and programmes of study we hope to develop students’ ability to both communicate and manipulate the language effectively. Our development of the students’ disciplinary knowledge helps them to both communicate information and ideas in a range of subjects, but also supports their literacy by helping them to actively engage with texts, and allows them insight into important cultural aspects. We want to help them to structure their writing so that they can produce work which can build an effective argument, narrate an event, or describe something vividly.
By developing students’ substantive knowledge of the workings of the language, students are supported with learning how to manipulate the language and use it, not only to communicate their own thoughts, but also to use it to decode the texts that they encounter.
Where possible, links are made to our local context of Blyth- especially the port of Blyth – where we strive to enthuse our students into thinking of careers in the future, and to see the benefit of being able to communicate with people of other nations in a variety of contexts. With the opening in 2021 of a pipeline to Norway, it is important that a related language is taught in school, and as Norwegian is a Germanic language, we strongly believe that both French and German have important roles to play.
Enrichment opportunities, such as visits to Germany and France are planned for in order to bring the languages to life and give them an understanding of how the learning in school is connected to the real world. We have established a link with school in Germany, and take part in reciprocal visits, and there are opportunities for authentic communication with people who speak French and German, so that students are able to make links with people their own age and gain an understanding beyond what we can give in the classroom.
In order to be a good linguist and communicator, it is not enough to be able to manipulate the grammar and learn the vocabulary. Our core values of humility, compassion and honourable purpose are at the core of what we do in MFL, as having the humility to listen as well as speak, to hear the point the person makes and respond appropriately are central. It is vital that we also listen with attentiveness and openness. We model this through the co-operative tasks in class, and through the listening tasks we ask students to carry out. Through our work in class, we also foster a “can do” attitude that promotes resilience and determination, and we encourage students to have the courage to speak in a foreign language by creating safe spaces, where they can feel confident to take risks and “have a go”. All students are encouraged to become independent learners, and to use their resources effectively and think through difficulties to achieve their goals.
Subjects include GCSE French, GCSE German and A-level French.