What do we study in MFL at Ridgeway?

Why do we study MFL?

At Ridgeway, we believe that acquiring a second language is one of the most important social skills that we learn. Languages that we speak underpin the societies that we live in. Without languages, we would find it extremely difficult to communicate. We learn languages to allow for a wider understanding of the world that we live in, ensuring that we have the skills to communicate with people from different cultures and countries. Furthermore, languages open doors that would otherwise remain closed. They provide an insight into other countries and cultures, giving is the ability to communicate in the language of that country. Ultimately, languages allow us to have greater understanding socially, mentally, and academically; breaking down barriers across boarders within the diverse communities that we live in. The MFL curriculum embodies the school ethos of Ridgeway 360° and ensures that all students have the opportunity and an ambition for learning a foreign language.

MFL programme of study at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

In Key Stage 3, students will build on the foundations of language learning laid at key stage 2. Teaching focuses on developing the breadth and depth of students’ competence in listening, speaking, reading and writing, based on a sound academic foundation of phonics, core grammar and vocabulary, which students are exposed to in Key Stage 2. The curriculum at this stage enables students to understand and communicate personal and general information that goes beyond their immediate needs and interests, with increased spontaneity, independence and accuracy. As students become socially confident in their grasp of the language, they start to manipulate the language more for themselves, applying core grammar concepts to new situations, which enables them to become more spontaneous in their speaking and writing of that language. It should provide suitable preparation for further study.

MFL programme of study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10-11)

In Key Stage 4, students are encouraged to further enhance and develop their language skills by embarking on the AQA GCSE qualification in French. At Ridgeway, our ambition is for our students to become all-round language learners by developing: their emotional skills- resilience and reflective, their social skills- confident communicators, their physical space – ability to thrive in different cultures and countries without the language barriers as well as mentally- discipline in learning a second language. Developing each strand of the Ridgeway 360° ethos is key to being a successful linguist at this level. Consequently, students will enhance their ability to speak, write and interpret texts, as well as listening to recordings on a wide range of different topics, from global issues, such as environmental issues to talking about future plans and a range of future career paths. Furthermore, students will demonstrate an increasing ability to speak and write spontaneously, feeling more confident to manipulate verbs and the language for themselves.

Homework expectations

As an MFL department, we believe passionately that homework plays a key role in the learning of a foreign language and a child’s overall mental and academic development. To this end, it is expected that all students complete weekly homework assignments that underpin the progress of all learners at KS2, KS3 and KS4. In addition to the aforementioned, it is essential that time is spent outside of the classroom to continue making progress. Little and often is key to this success!

Homework should build on the work that has been carried out in class and further develop the skills necessary to embed a skill or new piece of knowledge required to successfully move forward in the learning of the language.

At Key Stage 3, the large proportion of homework will be vocabulary learning homework, which then links into their regular MFL lessons. This often takes the form of RECAP style activities at the beginning of each lesson. As a result, students are continually reviewing vocabulary to support the retention of it in their long-term memory. Furthermore, the almost weekly vocabulary learning homework allows students access to authentic French speakers reading the list of “chunked” vocabulary lists, of no more than fifteen words, out loud. This knowledge-based task is then further enhanced by skills-based questioning within the same homework assignment.

In Key Stage 4, in addition to the weekly vocabulary homework, students will also complete preparation for their speaking exam, as well as other practice of examination questions. This is part of their ongoing revision and a vital tool in supporting their success at GCSE.

The following duration times of homework should be used as a guide when completing homework across different Key Stages:

  • Key Stage 3: 30-45 minutes of homework (Must be set weekly)
  • Key Stage 4: 1 hour- 60-120 minutes (Must be set weekly)

How can parents and guardians support at home?

It is extremely important that students studying MFL, complete independent learning as well as classwork and home learning tasks developing academic and mental discipline. In the first instance, parents and guardians, who support teachers to instil in each child a positive view of language learning, deposit in them an invaluable skill that sets them on an ambitious journey for later life. Students who can articulate their own independent learning to others, demonstrate better progress. It is thus vital to encourage your child to be actively engaged in their home learning of a foreign language, to underpin core language knowledge in their long-term memory.

At KS4, you can support your child by encouraging them to trial a range of revision strategies and examination techniques that they have been taught in class from the outset. We also hold the belief that it is important to encourage your child to begin a revision programme early. Again, a “little and often” approach is often the most effective. Encouraging your child to be open minded and curious about the world we live in will go together with a flair for the learning of a language.

Students should allow some time each week to learning and consolidating vocabulary. This is how we build on what has been taught and allow the appropriate building blocks to be formed for further study of the language. See below how parents can help (even if you don’t speak the language!):

  • Involve yourselves in vocabulary testing: take a vocabulary list and see how many words they can remember on a given subtopic in a set amount of time or read the English vocabulary for your child to translate
  • Ask your child some of the GCSE speaking general conversation questions, as well Key Stage 3 speaking questions, to practise their interaction and responding naturally to questions further developing their social interactions in a foreign language (if they have to correct your pronunciation, this is even better practice for them!)
  • Watch a film/TV series in another language together – many DVDs and streaming services allow you to change the audio language, even if the original is in English
  • Ask your child to teach you something they have learned that week
  • Buy a bi-lingual dictionary and encourage your child to use it instead of online translators

Useful Websites for revision:

Enrichment opportunities

At Ridgeway, we encourage Year 11 to take part in GCSE revision enrichment classes after school on a Tuesday. We are further in the process of developing cultural experiences for students to give them a taster of what life is like in a French speaking country. This is part of a wider development of the enrichment offer within the MFL department to ensure Ridgeway 360° is explicitly offered outside of our curriculum experiences.