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 MFL Curriculum Intent: Understanding MFL’s Curriculum DREAM 

Purpose: This document sets out how the Modern Foreign Language Department approaches Curriculum Intent at Eaton Bank Academy. 

Design  How have you designed your curriculum to be broad, balanced and ambitious? 
The Key Stage 3 Curriculum follows the National Curriculum and is designed to foster students’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of other languages and cultures. Our curriculum aims to broaden students’ horizons and encourage them to step beyond familiar cultural boundaries and develop new ways of seeing the world. It aims to develop a linguistic competency that is both broad and deep in the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, based on a sound foundation of core phonics, vocabulary and grammar.

 

In Year 7, the curriculum carefully considers the building blocks of each language, so students have a solid foundation on which to continually build their knowledge of language, via a range of engaging topics deeply embedded in the culture within which the languages are spoken. Our MFL curriculum is both broad and ambitious and equips students with skills and knowledge, allowing them to develop self-efficacy, whilst also promoting diversity and tolerance of other cultures.

 

Each Year 7 cohort at Eaton Bank will study two of the three languages we offer (German, Spanish and French) and will continue studying these two languages in Year 8. Lessons focus on the three pillars of progression: phonics, vocabulary and grammar, via lessons that are engaging and allow students to practise their skills (receptive and productive) across the four key skill areas – speaking, listening, reading and writing. Year 7 and Year 8 students have three lessons of each language across the two-week timetable. When students enter Year 9, they specialise in one of those languages and study this language for five lessons across the two-week timetable, in order to facilitate greater depth of understanding.

Rationale  What is the rationale behind your curriculum design and ordering of content over time? 
The MFL curriculum is designed to expose students to a wide variety of material and enable them to see the purpose and use of learning languages. We expand the cultural capital of our students by embedding their linguistic acquisition within a wide range of knowledge which goes beyond their own cultural experience and sets them up as intercultural citizens.

 

The curriculum develops students’ knowledge and uses of a wide range of vocabulary, allowing them to give and justify opinions and take part in discussions about wider issues. An example of this would be discussing rights and responsibilities, with a focus on Fair Trade in Year 9 Spanish lessons. Topic areas studied in Key Stage 3 are frequently revisited in more depth at Key Stage 4, allowing students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of key content and grammar. The aforementioned Year 9 topic, for example, is studied in greater depth in Year 11, within the societal issues topic, looking at poverty, unemployment and homelessness in Spain.

 

Further rationale behind our curriculum design includes the revisiting and building on existing knowledge. The topic areas and grammatical structures which are introduced at Key Stage 3, are seen as building blocks for more in-depth learning at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5, following the AQA specification. Consequently, content is sequenced to support student learning and embed constant recall.

Equality  How is your curriculum accessible and purposeful for all students, including SEND, Disadvantaged and Higher Ability Learners? 
Throughout all Key Stages, the MFL curriculum is delivered in mixed ability groups, meaning that differentiation is at the heart of our lesson planning. This ensures that we give all students, regardless of ability level, the opportunity to make good progress. All students are encouraged to make links between English and the language being studied, supporting the development of strong literacy skills.

 

Our curriculum is clearly focused on language acquisition and we are developing resources for expanding our teaching of phonics. Alongside our new schemes of work in Years 7, 8 and 9, we have introduced knowledge organisers, enabling us to define and share the core knowledge that we want our students to master.

 

The MFL team meet regularly to discuss the progress of students in all classes, identifying any issues with learning. Subsequently, swift and appropriate interventions can be put in place to ensure students are reaching their full potential.

Aims, Vision & Values  What is the aim of your curriculum and how does this support the aims and values of the school? 
Our curriculum aims to inspire a love of languages and passion for learning about the cultures and societies in which they are spoken. We also aim to increase our uptake of languages at Key Stage 4, Key Stage 5 and beyond, encouraging students to become lifelong learners of a language. A school-wide target is to attain a 50% uptake in MFL at Key Stage 4. This is supported by a purposeful and robust Key Stage 3 curriculum, which allows students to think, speak and write like a linguist.

 

Our intention is to create not only global citizens but also the linguists of the future, who will go on to be successful in a wide range of professional fields, using the invaluable language skills they have garnered at Eaton Bank. Our curriculum aims to open up future pathways to students involving the study of languages.

 

In addition, our curriculum aims to develop well-rounded, open-minded students who have a broad understanding of the world in which they live and a deep desire to explore other cultures and countries. This will build students’ cultural capital and at the same time reinforce the school’s values.

Misconceptions  How do you address misconceptions in your subject to support students’ learning? 
Misconceptions are preidentified in planning, allowing these to be clearly addressed within the delivery of the lesson. For example, one common misconception in Key Stage 3 German is not putting the verb in the correct position in the sentence when using certain conjunctions. A common misconception in Key Stage 3 Spanish and French is incorrectly putting the adjective before the noun and making mistakes in adjectival agreement. By being aware of common misconceptions such as these, we take a proactive approach to dealing with them.

 

Common misconceptions happen in the production of spoken language and interference from Language 1 (a student’s first language). This type of misconception is dealt with by explicitly teaching phonics in Year 7 and constant revisiting of common sound patterns in the language being taught.

 

In the MFL Faculty, we have specialists in each of the languages that we deliver. We support staff to become experts in the specifications being delivered and our collaborative approach to planning allows subject experts to clearly model best practice and provide quality-first teaching. Modelling in all key skill areas is used as a method to tackle misconceptions, showing high-level responses and examples which contain misconceptions for students to identify. This is further supported by our use of knowledge organisers and key vocabulary lists throughout Key Stages 3, 4 and 5.

 

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