Learning a foreign language is a necessary part of being a member of a multi-cultural society and provides an opening to other cultures.
Lessons are planned to develop children’s awareness of cultural differences in other countries, through our protected characteristics, British values and curriculum enrichment opportunities.
A high-quality languages education should encourage children’s confidence, foster children’s curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should enable children to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing.
It should also provide opportunities for them to communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the original language. Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping children to study and work in other countries.
The MFL curriculum
Our MFL curriculum is designed to develop children skills in languages progressively, through regular taught lessons. Children acquire, use and apply a growing bank of vocabulary organised around topics.
We follow the QCA scheme of work to ensure coverage and progression across school, but this curriculum has been extended (by the subject lead) to allow for greater coverage of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
All our children in KS2 will have regular language lessons, and we are opening up the language learning experience to pupils in KS1 with our weekly French phrases and singing of songs in the language. We also draw on the knowledge and experiences of those pupils in school for whom English is not their native tongue.
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 learning challenges and progression guide used to plan and teach MFL ensure that children are accessing work at age-related expectations, with regular opportunities to be challenged through higher-level objectives.
The national curriculum for languages aims to ensure that all pupils:
- understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
- speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
- can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
- discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied
How we do this
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, as well as lengthier pieces of writing in the MFL. Children’s speaking in the MFL is recorded using Language Master, the Easi-speak microphones or iPads, to share in class and via Seesaw.
This learning is reinforced by:
- displays used to remind children of key vocabulary
- practical activities, songs and games used to help improve memory and recall
- classroom instructions given in French to expose children to the language as much as possible and in day-to-day contexts
- visual prompts and gesture to support children in translating new vocabulary
- knowledge organisers available for children to have out on desks to support their learning and recap previous learning
- reading strategies to cope with unfamiliar texts
Pupils are taught to:
- listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
- explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
- engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help
- speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures; develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases
- present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences
- read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
- appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
- broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
- write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clear
- describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
- understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English
Children have weekly lessons in French throughout Key Stage 2, aiming for an hour of language learning. This is supplemented throughout the week by other opportunities for using the MFL or for making links with the language through Literacy work.
It is intended that when children leave Hedon Primary, they will have a natural curiosity and confidence to explore other countries’ cultures and languages, accepting that, in a multi-lingual society, it is a valuable skill to be able to communicate effectively with others in their native language. They will be engaged and prepared to continue language learning at secondary school.
Assessment criteria has been developed, in line with national curriculum aims, to enable teachers to assess the progress of children in their language learning as they move through Key Stage 2, ensuring that children are supported and challenged as appropriate. In collaboration with the MFL adviser and senior lead teacher for languages, the learning aims of the MFL curriculum have been ‘translated’ into a series of ‘can do’ statements for each year group, and pupil progress is tracked via this.
Each pupil has this attainment tracker sheet in their French book. This book is separate from other Literacy work and moves with the child through KS2, providing a record of their work in MFL and which can be used as a reference for future years.
Working together with our local secondary school, Holderness Academy, children are also provided with occasional extra-curricular activities to promote their engagement in the subject as they continue their MFL studies at secondary school.
Pupil voice is also used to further develop the MFL curriculum, through questioning of pupils’ views and attitudes to learning a language.
French is monitored by the MFL subject leader throughout all year groups using a variety of strategies such as book scrutinises, lesson observations, staff discussions and pupil interviews. Feedback is given to teachers/our HLTA, and this provides the subject lead and the SLT with information on how language teaching and learning is delivered and received in school.
How to help at home:
Here are some suggestions for ways you can help your child.
- Take your child to a museum
France has produced some of the most talented artists, such as Monet and Renoir. Check your local museum’s schedule to see when it is featuring a French-inspired exhibition and take your child along. The admission for entry to the Ferens Art Gallery, for example, is free.
- Celebrate French holidays
Celebrating important French holidays, such as Bastille Day, will teach your child about French history. Celebrate by making some fun crafts or taking part in holiday traditions such as fireworks.
- Cook a French meal
Familiarise your child with French cuisine by having him or her help you prepare some traditional French food, such as quiche or crème brûlée.
- Listen to French music
Do you have a Spotify account or Alexa? Download some French songs to listen to while at home or in the car. Listening to French music will help to familiarise your child with French accents and pronunciations.
You can download and print dozens of free French crosswords and word searches for your child. He or she will have fun playing, while simultaneously learning French vocabulary and simple sentences. Keep some in the car for long journeys.
- Memory games
Create some French flashcards and place them face down on a table. Your child will turn over two cards. If the pictures match, your child will turn over two more cards. The point of the game is to match all of the cards from memory.
- Colouring books
Purchase a French colouring book from Amazon. These colouring books will spark your child’s creativity, while helping him or her learn different words from various themes.
- Read French books
There are lots of beginner French books. Le Petit Prince is one of the most well-known French children’s books. You can find the book in almost any book shop or online.
This French activity is played exactly like the original Hangman version, except you are using French words instead of English.
Bonne chance et allez-y!