Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

Principles and Purpose of MFL Curriculum

At Bristol Cathedral Choir School we are passionate about the power of multilingualism to broaden horizons and to develop the transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers in today's global employment market.

Our students are welcomed into year 7 with a diverse experience of language learning and cultural capital from primary settings.  The intent of our curriculum is simple. We seek to inspire students of all abilities and to equip them all with the powerful knowledge required to be effective communicators who are able to express themselves articulately in the target language. 

We aim to provide equal opportunities in language learning, providing all students with an enjoyable and challenging experience that places inclusion at its heart..  We intend to prepare our students to be global citizens with an understanding and appreciation of diversity and different cultures.  We want our students to demonstrate openness towards and acceptance of others. We intend our students to be confident problem solvers, striving to be the best they can be in order to succeed in further language learning in school, higher education, employment and life beyond. 

Our department provides high quality, engaging lessons by covering the three pillars of progression: phonics, vocabulary and grammar. 

Why this, why now?

Our Year 7 and 8 students are following  the NCELP curriculum, which is rich in the acquisition of phonics, grammar and vocabulary. This is both to complement the 2024 MFL KS4 reform, as well as to reflect the best research available for language learning.  Our students will have the knowledge and power to be confident and successful in their productive and comprehension skills in the language, alongside learning about cultural similarities and differences, for example, how different festivals are celebrated and how school systems differ.  

Our Year 9 students continue to follow a topic led scheme, which develops substantive and disciplinary learning through themes such as  ‘Clothing and Shopping’. This approach provides foundational knowledge for GCSE  and topics are returned to during KS4 in greater depth, for example ‘Holidays’ and ‘Where I live’.  Students will learn how to recognise and communicate in different time frames, which is also revisited at KS4.

Teaching the MFL Curriculum

Through explicit instruction students are prompted to apply prior learning to understand and to produce language, as well as to develop their language skills.  Students’ understanding and how they express meaning is supported by a robust foundation of subject knowledge.  Individual student need is carefully considered in lesson design, with scaffolding and modelling of tasks.  Metacognitive skills are developed, allowing our students to apply strategies to enable communication and production of language, such as giving opinions with reasons and using different time frames in a wide range of situations.

Students expand their broader knowledge by developing awareness and understanding of the culture and identities of the countries and communities where the language is spoken. They are encouraged to make appropriate links to other areas of the curriculum to enable bilingual and deeper learning, where the language may become a medium for constructing and applying knowledge.

Assessing the MFL Curriculum

Formative assessment is a feature of every lesson, at every key stage.  A starter activity will recap and recall previous learning and tasks in listening, speaking, reading and writing will be self or peer assessed. This is provided alongside whole class feedback and targeted questioning.  Longer writing tasks will be teacher marked with Read and Respond comments to deepen students’ understanding and progress.  

In year 7 and 8, weekly tests embed students’ vocabulary knowledge, these include grammatical points.  There are biannual summative assessments to review student knowledge.

In year 9 summative assessments in students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills are undertaken at the end of each unit of work.  These demonstrate both substantive and disciplinary knowledge.  We move towards GCSE style assessments throughout the year.  These provide a record of student progress and strengths / areas of improvement in these skills.

At KS4, language skills, including both substantive and disciplinary knowledge, are tested through end of unit assessments in all four skills, using GCSE style exam papers.  

At KS5, students expand their substantive and disciplinary knowledge in grammar and topic, this will be assessed through A Level style exam papers at the end of each topic.

Progression in the MFL Curriculum

Progression in years 7 & 8 is demonstrated through the functions of grammar, frequency and usefulness of vocabulary and phonics. We avoid introducing too much language too fast. 

Through phonics, students will experience paced, explicit teaching of new sound-symbol correspondences (SSC), followed by integrated revisiting and consolidation throughout KS3.  This then prepares them for external assessment at KS4. Ten new words of vocabulary are taught per week, in sets of words from different parts of speech. These include the most common verbs and are selected on the basis of word frequency.  No more than one new grammatical function will be taught every two weeks.

By the end of current year 9, students will have explored and have a strong knowledge of topics taught and will have embedded a core of vocabulary and grammatical structures which form the groundwork for progression at KS4.  They should have a strong appreciation for the cultural differences between our country and the country of study and be able to articulate these.  They will use disciplinary skills to apply one unit of vocabulary or grammar to another.

By the end of KS4, students will have a firm knowledge of three time frames and a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures (both simple and complex) in the target language. They will be able to apply them productively and receptively in order to communicate with confidence in the target language. Their core vocabulary will have been revisited, developed and extended within each topic area. Students will have solid exam skills and strategies.

By the end of KS5, students will be able to communicate confidently and coherently in the target language, both in writing and speaking.  They will be able to understand and analyse a wide range of texts, covering A Level themes and topics, both written and spoken.  Additionally students will have studied a literary text and film in the language and will be able to critically analyse and support their arguments, writing an essay in the target language.  Speaking skills are developed through an Independent Research Project, where students research their chosen aspect of French or German speaking society and provide a presentation followed by a question and answer session.