In MFL at Ashlyns we aim to broaden horizons and build intercultural understanding. We strongly believe that every student should have the opportunity to acquire at least one foreign language and that students from all backgrounds should be exposed to this cultural capital through curricular and extra curricular activities.
Languages are part of the cultural richness and diversity of our society and the world in which we live and work. Learning languages is a lifelong skill and contributes to a mutual understanding, a sense of global citizenship and personal fulfilment. Students learn to appreciate different cultures and, in doing so, gain a new perspective on their own.
We aim to implement an inclusive language policy to improve social equity in language education, closing gaps in participation and attainment. Our aim is that every child has the opportunity of international experience in class or overseas, through our cultural topics, language assistants or trips abroad. To ease the transition from primary schools, our KS3 language leaders visit primary schools to deliver fun and engaging lessons in French or Spanish.
Key Stage 3
We aim to inspire a love of languages and want our students to become tolerant individuals who are globally aware and culturally sensitive.
We aim to teach students the importance of being literate. To this end, students do not only build vocabulary, but grasp concepts. They develop an understanding of how language works so that they can use it in new contexts to express their own ideas. Students are encouraged to be curious, make connections, spot patterns, ask questions and be creative. Knowledge of grammar supports their learning and maximises the range and quality of the language which they can understand and produce independently.
Progression is carefully planned, moving from passive to active use of the language and from highly structured to more open ended or creative tasks. The approach is communicative; language is used naturally for the purpose of understanding others and expressing oneself. We aim to create a challenging yet supportive learning environment so that each student can achieve their potential. Through the sharing of lesson objectives and the discussion of outcomes, students are encouraged to become active learners, share responsibility for their progress and feel a sense of achievement.
At KS3 the topics taught are those to which the students can relate personally. Relevant vocabulary, grammar structures and linguistic skills are practised in a manner which allows for a degree of challenge. As the students progress, the complexity of the language builds up steadily, as does confidence and resilience.
Students consolidate any previous learning from their primary school and make the first steps toward becoming independent language learners by studying the following topics:
Personal Information: Giving Information and descriptions about themselves, family and friends and pets
Lifestyle: Talking about clothes and personal style preferences
Leisure: Talking about the sports and leisure activities
A Movie Project based on reviewing an engaging film
Students move towards giving and justifying more detailed opinions as well as consolidating the foundations built in Year 7.
Holidays: Talking about usual and preferred holidays
Sport and Leisure: Talking about sport and leisure activities. Naming parts of the body and injuries that can occur from playing sports.
Routines: Talking about daily routine both at home and at school using the 24 hour clock. Giving opinions about school subjects, teachers and timetable.
Entertainment and media: Giving detailed opinions on TV programmes, music and films. What happens in the French film Astérix et Obélix Mission Cléopâtre?
Meeting Up: Talking about events, parties and festivals. Giving reasons why you can or cannot attend an event.
France and Other countries: Comparing aspects of French Modern culture and customs with British lifestyle. Researching a Francophone country.
Students hone their communicative skills through the acquisition and consolidation of new or previously learnt language and through grammar to further improve understanding and linguistic proficiency.
Food and Diet: Saying what they eat at mealtimes, giving opinions on food and drink. Discussing Healthy lifestyle options.
Young people, family relationships and chores: Talking about the relationships with parents and family members. Explaining which chores we do and what pressures teenagers face.
Jobs: Advantages and disadvantages of different jobs
Technology: Describing old and new technology, Identifying pros and cons of new technologies.
Home: Talking about different types of dwelling. Describing current home, area and activities available.
Key Stage 4
French GCSE is taught by French specialists and some native speakers. Students are also given the opportunity to practise their speaking skills and better understand French culture through small group discussions with a native French Language Assistant.
We deliver the AQA specification
and continue to build on the knowledge and skills from KS3. The transition is smooth and students start the course by developing KS3 topics further. The GCSE course gives students a wide range of topics on which to communicate, such as their world, the environment, social issues and future plans and careers. Throughout all Key Stages we aim to develop all four skills equally: reading, writing, listening and speaking. These skills are built into all lessons and give students lifelong transferable skills.
Students are given opportunities of a trip France where they are completely immersed in the French language and culture.
Key Stage 5
Despite the national decline in the uptake of languages at A Level, French remains a popular choice at Ashlyns with students often going on to study it at university. They develop a love of languages, an intellectual curiosity and realise the impact of cultural understanding in the world.
The course is very varied and explores the changing society in the French speaking countries through family structures, music, media, festivals and traditions. A Level course offers a breadth of resources and themes to students and we study a film Les Intouchables in Year 12 and a novel No et Moi in Year 13. Students analytically and critically analyse the cinematographic/literature elements as well as themes and characters.
In the second year students explore in detail the history of immigration, racism and extreme right movements. Students gain an understanding of the colonial past and learn how this has impacted and shaped the world we live in. We study this through a range of texts and a movie La Haine which enables students to get a real feel for the lives of young people who might be second or third generation immigrants. This unit requires students to keep up with the current news in France and understand the French political system. During the second year, we explore France under the Occupation and the Vichy Regime. Students learn to look at world events from various angles and gain a better cultural perspective and understanding.
Our students are motivated, independent and curious learners who complement what they do in the classroom by engaging with a wide variety of media – reading news and magazine articles, listening to podcasts or simply watching series in French on Netflix.
Learning Beyond the Classroom
Learning French beyond the classroom enthuses our students by providing a real life context through the exposure to French and francophone culture.
We offer a range of opportunities to awaken their interests:
- Language Leaders: a group of KS3 students prepare and deliver lessons and activities to students in our partner primary schools. We help build our Language Leaders’ confidence by teaching them how to lead using language teaching as a medium. Our students benefit hugely from this as it gives them a purpose and context for their language skills whilst improving their evaluative and analytical skills as well as improving their personal attainment in a foreign language.
- Films: We study different films within the curriculum and we adapt these yearly depending on the curriculum and students’ interests. We hold movie nights for our KS3 students in order to deepen their intercultural understanding and promote the value of languages. The films introduce students to a more natural form of the language with authentic vocabulary and slang.
- Trips: We organise a KS4 trip to France that allows students to discover French culture as well as putting into application all the different skills they have developed at KS3 and KS4 (listening, writing, reading and speaking). Travelling to France gives students a genuine connection to the French language and culture.
- French football: French football is an innovative option we offer in Year 9 which combines football with language learning skills. The aim is to show students that language learning can be achievable, rewarding and, above all, fun.
- Francophone project: At KS3, students are encouraged to research a French speaking country during 7 weeks focusing on a different area each week. This helps them gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and research a francophone country. This helps students broaden their cultural knowledge and realise how learning a language can help them in their future careers at home and abroad.
- Language Assistants: students practise their speaking skills and learn about society and culture from a native speaker in small groups