Modern Foreign Languages
Curriculum statement: Modern Foreign Languages
'The limits of my language mean the limits of my world' Wittgenstein
At The Saint John Henry Newman School we believe passionately that learning another language is an essential skill in our global world. By motivating pupils to explore language creatively and equipping them with the necessary communication tools, we aim to open students’ minds to the wonders of the wider world and provide all pupils with a valuable educational, social and cultural experience. In turn, this promotes a greater understanding, curiosity and tolerance of other cultures that echo the core christian values central to our school ethos.
Languages are for life! Our vision is to create confident and fluent speakers through an engaging and challenging curriculum which values the strengths of all and celebrates success. The ability to understand and communicate in another language is a lifelong skill for education, employment and leisure which enhances the employability of our pupils and lays the foundations to support the future study of other languages, giving pupils the opportunity to become global citizens.
Through a range of engaging educational activities which focus on developing language awareness and practising listening and speaking micro-skills, we enable our pupils to grow into confident linguists who can perform real world communicative tasks with spontaneity and fluency. By continuously revisiting vocabulary and empowering pupils on the very best techniques that support memory, we nurture confidence in their ability, creating a positive mindset in language acquisition, regardless of their linguistic background. In this way, we exceed the demands of the National Curriculum and foster analytical thinking, which enhances academic performance in other subjects.
At Key Stage 3 we aim to build a solid foundation of knowledge, with students confident in linguistic patterns, an awareness of phonics, key grammatical terminology and concepts and an understanding of the language learning process. This approach facilitates their ability to decode unfamiliar language and gives greater awareness of the fundamental building blocks of language that can be manipulated to personalise their work.
At Key Stage 4 pupils will deepen their understanding of grammatical concepts and enrich their range of structures and vocabulary through a range of authentic texts relevant to young people in a multicultural society. The emphasis at this stage is to enable pupils to perform real world communicative tasks such as giving, justifying and eliciting opinions and to enable them to take part in discussions about wider issues – important communicative functions for students to master in the real world and prepare them for the challenges of KS5. We also celebrate the diversity of cultures within our community and encourage native speakers to gain a GCSE qualification in their mother tongue whilst pursuing their studies of another language.
Students at Key Stage 5 will be aiming for greater spontaneity and proficiency of language. Through the study of a variety of historical, literary and political stimuli, they will gain a richer insight into the culture of the language of study and hone their research and presentation skills thus preparing themselves for future academic study and the world of work.
Learning a language contributes to a sense of global citizenship as well as personal fulfilment. By nurturing curiosity and identifying similarities and contrasts with their own language, we strengthen their understanding in other areas of the curriculum. Mini projects help pupils to advance their cultural knowledge on festivals and traditions, the geographical and historic diversity of countries where the language is spoken and to have a greater appreciation of their literature, music and art as well as foster co-curricular links.
Throughout their time at The Saint John Henry Newman School, pupils have the opportunity to participate in trips to France and Spain enabling them to experience, first-hand, cultural diversity, to practise their developing linguistic abilities and promoting independence and inter-personal skills. These trips additionally support their learning of geographical features and historical awareness.
The diversity of languages and cultures are celebrated in the European Day of Languages. We also offer Enrichment opportunities for pupils to learn Russian and to participate in the TeCoLa (virtual world interaction) in which pupils interact virtually with a school in Spain. We have also built links with feeder Primary Schools, offering support in the delivery of the primary curriculum in order to prepare pupils for a smooth transition to secondary education.
What follows is a current summary of the intended subject curriculum content in each year of the key stage. It highlights the key knowledge and skills intended for learning, and some of the ways progress in the curriculum is to be assessed. It clarifies the key questions students should be addressing and gives links to help students and families to develop this learning further.
Students are taught either French or Spanish, depending which side of the year they are in. Students are taught initially in mixed ability groups and subsequently banded in each language. They are introduced to the key language areas and grammar over the course of the key stage that would allow them to be readily understood by a native speaker, in line with the National Curriculum. Students focus on one language in Year 7 and Year 8, a number of pupils are given the opportunity to learn a second language from Year 9. Languages Day is usually celebrated in September, with a whole school approach through competitions, whilst cuisines of the world are available in the canteen at lunchtime.
Throughout Key Stage 4 pupils begin to use modern foreign languages more independently. They will draw on a firmer grasp of grammar and a wider more complex range of expression. They adapt their use of the language according to context, purpose and audience. They learn to understand a more extensive range of unfamiliar language by reading and listening to a variety of material from countries and communities where the language is spoken. They also increase their cultural awareness through more direct contact with people who live in those countries and communities. We use the AQA exam board for all three languages.
Students studying an A level language contribute greatly to the life of the department, attending Open Evenings and KS4 into KS5 evenings, talking to students and parents about language learning at JHN. Sixth Form students also have the opportunity to participate in the MFL Share Scheme, where students offer speaking practice to younger learners in their study time. A Level courses are taken with AQA.