“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” – Frank Smith
‘Fit for Life’ through MFL
The experience of learning a foreign language makes a unique contribution to the curriculum by taking pupils out of the familiar environment of English and allowing them to explore the language, lifestyle and culture of other countries. As language teachers, we seek to instil a curiosity and fascination in discovering the world and its people; fostering an interest in travel which, in turn, will deepen students’ understanding of different cultures and societies. Communicating in a different language can be a liberating and enjoyable experience; by learning a foreign language students improve their personal and social skills by learning to communicate, co-operate and contribute in class, consider the views of others, and adjust to different social situations. Doors are opened around the world and potential employers consider this as a valuable asset in an employee’s skill set – learning a second language conveys that a student is motivated and driven to learn new skills. As we begin to learn one new language, we increase our ability to replicate the process much more easily with additional languages.
Skills and Knowledge
At Key Stage 3, students learn how to communicate and develop their listening, reading and writing skills. Learning a foreign language highlights and enhances our grammar usage and improves our understanding of English Language. We bring our curriculum to life with authentic texts, literary extracts, music and film. Exploring the foreign languages in a more ‘real’ context enables students to develop their skills in listening, oracy, reading and writing whilst also learning about the culture of that country. At Key Stage 3, we primarily focus on listening and speaking skills as this reflects how we initially acquire our mother tongue. 45% of total real life communication is based on listening – the acquisition of a second language through developing this skill leads to more confidence in the skills of reading and writing. Retrieval, vocabulary building and memorisation are also skills that underpin each topic covered in Key Stage 3. We encourage self efficacy in order to enable our students to become successful learners of a foreign language.
At Key Stage 4 students follow their choice of foreign language with the aim of building on the fluency and depth of skills they have developed in Key Stage 3. We follow the GCSE Edexcel course content alongside literary texts, authentic materials and our own resources which aim to build upon student comprehension, retention and translation skills. These are all key skills necessary to communicate clearly, express ideas and convey information successfully. We aim to develop student understanding of more complex language across a variety of themes and students learn how to respond to more sophisticated spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources. By building on the skills and knowledge acquired earlier, students are encouraged to speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity; finding ways of communicating what they want to say through discussion. Students learn how to write, at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using a variety of grammatical structures.
Communication and Community
Communication is at the very heart of language learning; it is crucial in developing students’ literacy skills and their ability to speak with spontaneity and good intonation. It enables students to read with confidence and to write developed and extended sentences. A foreign language enhances grammar skills and improves our knowledge of English Language. Additionally, through the exploration of a range of themes, students are encouraged to become aware of the world around them on a local, national and international scale. We teach the students about the importance of tolerance and encourage them to respect different cultures. It makes a difference in how each one of us sees the world and how the world sees us. As the world becomes more and more connected, being able to communicate in another language is beneficial – many firms are multinational so learning a second language may well enable the students to compete successfully when looking for employment – foreign language may well widen job opportunities and certainly makes travelling easier and more enjoyable.