Curriculum Road Map: French
Curriculum Statement: French
Our Modern Foreign Language offer at The UCS is French, although native speakers of other languages are offered the chance to take an additional GCSE in their own language at the end of Y11. The curriculum area is growing, and will continue to do so as the school expands. French is currently offered to all students in KS3, and 5 students in Y10 have opted to study for a French GCSE. We did not offer French as a GCSE option in KS4 last year, or the year before, as the uptake was too small.
The KS3 and KS4 curriculum covers the National Curriculum, and we study for the AQA exam at GCSE. The content includes the three strands Vocabulary, Grammar and Phonics, which is taught, revisited and upscaled systematically across the five years. We follow the digital subscription Dynamo course in KS3 (Dynamo 1 in Y7, and Dynamo 2 in Y8), as it is a fun and engaging course which introduces students to, and gives ample practice at all the grammar, topics and Exam skills (Phonics, Listening, Speaking, Reading, Translation and Writing) needed for GCSE. The Dynamo course is a single digital textbook in Y7, which lends itself well to mixed-ability teaching, but offers differentiated textbooks (Rouge et Vert) in Y8 and beyond. We use the old Expo AQA course in KS4. This course is also differentiated (Rouge et Vert), but is a little outdated, as although it covers all the material for the new GCSE exam, it does not offer enough practice at the new exam skills, especially translation. Consequently, the course is supplemented by other activities either devised by the class teacher or else found online or in GCSE Revision Guides. Going forward, we intend to purchase the Dynamo 3 course for our Y9 students next year, but this is a new course, and is a work in progress, so has not yet been written beyond Dynamo 2. We also intend to update to the Dynamo GCSE course as soon as it becomes available.
In addition, the school has a subscription to Linguascope, which we use with all year groups, using the Beginner activities in KS3 and the Intermediate activities in KS4. We do not currently have any bespoke resources for Y9. Last year (2019-2020) was the first year we had a Y9 cohort, and MFL was taught as a “carousel” subject alongside History and Geography, with each subject being taught for two separate half terms. As only 2 students in that cohort had studied French before, and the rest were total beginners, we chose to use resources and materials we already had in school, rather than purchase bespoke Y9 materials for just one term. This year (2020-2021), Y9 students will be studying French for the whole year, but again, we have some students who have never studied French before, and as the Dynamo 3 course is still being written, the current Y9 course content is a combination of relevant materials from Dynamo 1+2, and Expo Vert.
We also offer an after-school Languages Club for Y7 students, which is run by our Trainee Teacher, and a KS4 visit to the Manchester Christmas Markets. We hope to offer more extra-curricular activities for Y8 and Y9 students in the future, such as visits to French cafés/restaurants, and visiting theatre groups, as well as French film clubs and residential trips to Paris for all students (Covid permitting).
French is taught in Modules in KS3, with each Module being a separate chapter in the textbook, and taking approximately ½ term to complete. Each Module is based around a single theme, and relevant new vocabulary and grammar concepts are introduced throughout, whilst at the same time constantly revisiting previously learned vocabulary and grammar, particularly Key Vocabulary (ie non-topic specific), opinions and the three time frames (Past, Present and Future). Initially, Y7 students are taught verbs as part of a vocabulary list (je suis, il est, j’aime, je n’aime pas etc). The Present Tense is introduced formally in Module 3 in Dynamo 1, to introduce Y7 students to the concept of regular and irregular verbs. This is revisited regularly throughout the rest of the course, gradually introducing irregular verbs and other tenses. The whole KS3 content is revisited throughout KS4, although at a deeper level, as well as new topics being introduced, and the KS4 students also spend time practicing exam skills, in preparation for their GCSE exams.
Learning French is like building a tower – later skills cannot be learned until the student understands the earlier ones. Therefore, each new skill learned builds on prior learning. The KS3 course consists of 15 Modules over the three books, each with 5 units, all following on from each other in a logical order. It begins with the Y7 students learning how to introduce themselves, and how to say something about themselves and their siblings (name, age, personality, likes/dislikes etc). This is built upon in Module 2 (Dynamo 1), when students learn how to describe their teachers and give opinions about their school subjects. Module 3 introduces Leisure Activities, which lends itself to the present tense, and the correct use of verbs in a sentence. Modules 4 and 5 cover their home and local area, introducing new vocabulary and revisiting opinions and possible sport and leisure activities. Module 5 also teaches them how make plans for the future, and in particular, what they plan to do in their local area at the weekend. This continues in Dynamo 2 (Y8) with a description of where they went and what they did on holiday, so giving a chance to revisit vocabulary from Y7, as well as learning the Perfect tense. At this point, they should now also be able to say where they plan to go and what they want to do on their next holiday. Further topics in Dynamo 2 include going to the cinema, watching TV, going shopping, and descriptions of Francophone countries, so revisiting vocabulary, opinions and using the three tenses together. Dynamo 3 will revisit all of the above, as well as introducing more tenses – the Conditional, the Future and the Pluperfect. The students will revisit all of this in KS4 through further practice of all key topics, vocabulary and grammar, as well as having ample time to practice exam skills (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking and Translation) through each topic. The Road Map is shared with the students by means of a specific “Route Map” for each Module, which indicates the topics and grammar to be studied in that Module. The Route Map takes the form of a London Underground Map, with stations for each Unit within the Module, and branch lines to show the content of each unit.
Each lesson begins with a “Do Now” activity which revisits work learned in a previous lesson, and which the students complete in silence. This may take the form of a grammar exercise, a reading activity, a translation activity, a vocabulary activity, describing a picture, a mini test, or a combination of the above. The work revisited may be from the previous lesson, a previous unit, a previous module or a previous year. This encourages the students to continually revise past vocabulary or grammar structures, so encouraging mastery in the subject. All French lessons follow the Scheme of Work for each of the coursebooks (provided by Pearson in Y7 and Y8 as part of the annual subscription, but written in house for Y9 and KS4). Students complete their work either in exercise books or on Showbie. Assessment for Learning may be by Question and Answer, using the Traffic Light /thumbs up system, regular vocab tests, marking completed classwork or homework, and half-termly End of Module assessments in at least two of the five skills (Listening, Reading, Writing, speaking and Translation). Feedback is given verbally, by acknowledgement marking, or Whole Class Feedback, on a designated form. Feedback for Assessments is given by means of the SIR forms, and by a QLA, which the students keep in a designated folder, so they can refer to it at a later date if necessary. The students are expected to respond to both Whole Class Feedback and the SIR forms in green pen, and are given time in class to do so. There is just one MFL teacher in the school (although we also have a ITT), so there is consistency with student work, standards and expectations.
Students receive a weekly homework, which consists of Vocabulary + another activity (Reading/Writing/Transltion) to revise and practice what has been learned that week. In class we use mnemonics, games and songs to aid recall. The main grammar points (ie Verbs and Tenses) are revisited constantly, and the topics taught in KS3 are revisited in KS4, but at a deeper level, with the introduction of more relevant vocabulary, age-appropriate Reading and Listening texts and the chance to practice exam skills. KS3 Students all have Knowledge Organisers for each Module, which they can use both in class and at home. These are stuck in their exercise books, and are also in Showbie, and include the Vocabulary, Grammar and Phonics taught in each Module, as well as the “Route Map”, so students know what they will be learning. Going forward, there will Knowledge Organisers for Y9, and for KS4 students are also planned, but are as yet unwritten. There are weekly vocabulary tests, and once per fortnight the “Do Now” activity revisits prior learning, revising 5 different things (eg vocab or grammar from a previous topic, conjugating a verb in a particular tense, rewriting sentences in another tense, checking for spelling mistakes, translating from English to French or French to English, describing a picture etc). KS4 students also prepare their answers to the Speaking Test questions, which they can learn in advance for regular testing. Student misconceptions are identified via the Whole Class feedback or SIR documents, which details what the individual student, or whole class has done well, as well as common errors. The students are then given time in class to improve their work, using their Knowledge Organisers as necessary.
The UTC Fingerprint
We promote Lifeskills in MFL, as theyare transferable skills, and are utilised in the workplace. The Lifeskills most relevant in MFL are Communication Skills (using and understanding the language), Problem solving (deciphering the language and using grammar correctly, especially where it is different from English, eg Word Order and Agreement of Adjectives) and Resilience (Learning a language is not easy, and tests the Resilience of our students), although we also promote Independence. The students are encouraged to work independently both in class and at home, and all have two Knowledge Organisers for each Module (one in their books and one on Showbie,which they can access at home), as well as access to dictionaries and a range of different reading materials in class. The weekly homework consists of learning vocabulary + another task (eg: Listening, Reading, Writing, Translating etc).
Digital Learning is very much a part of our curriculum, as our Y7 & Y8 course materials are all online, and we intend to purchase the same course (Dynamo) for Y9 next September, once it has been written. We use Showbie regularly in class and for homework, and students also have independent access to different websites (eg: Linguascope, Languagesonline, GCSE pod), which they can access both in school and at home on iPads, mobiles or home PCs.
Over the five years in MFL, students are offered a number of opportunities which bring the curriculum to life, some of which also offer opportunities for employer engagement. These include French breakfasts, visiting a French café, ta theatre experience with a play in French, and residential trips to Paris, and in the future we hope to arrange a visit to Egin, a French company based in Salford.
Pedagogy in MFL allows the needs of all students to be met. Differentiation takes place in several ways, eg: gap-filled worksheets, simpler activities, basic vocabulary/phrases and model answers for the Lower Ability students; separate textbooks, higher level vocabulary/phrases and extension tasks for the Higher Ability students. Challenge is the starting part in the development of all lessons, working backwards to plan the steps that will allow all students the potential to complete the challenge.
Following the whole school teaching and learning objectives, lessons are structured using the 5 P’s with a clear Do Now task on entry to motivate the students as soon as they enter the room.
Challenge in a lesson may link to a specific examination skill that draws on a specific piece of knowledge. Through the use of short repetitive learning methods, students are able to process and store more information.
MFL follows the whole school policy on assessment and feedback. Schemes of work are designed (or adapted from linked course books or the AQA scheme) to ensure that as content is taught, students are frequently assessed to check and review understanding.
Formative assessment is applied in every lesson by means of purposeful Do Now task at the start of the lesson, regular vocabulary tests, verbal feedback, games or quizzes, and plenaries.
Summative assessment is designed with a focus on learning and understanding the content of topics, remembering and mastering previous learning, and developing relevant skills to allow student access to all assessment questions
The Dynamo course that we use in KS3 provides materials for 5 summative Assessments each year, that directly match the topics, vocabulary and grammar covered in each Module. They are robust, fit for purpose, and cover all the curriculum components studied. They increase in difficulty throughout the year, and assess Grammar, Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing and Translation skills, thereby identifying gaps and weaknesses in each skill area. The results of summative assessment in KS3 feeds into the MFL Flight path, which identifies the level at which students are currently working (Foundation, Developing, Securing or Enhancing).
In KS4, summative assessment also uses pre-prepared assessments provided by Pearson, which are in line with Expo 4 (the coursebook we follow). As in KS3, these assessments are robust, fit for purpose, and cover all the curriculum components studied. Each summative assessment in KS4 is graded 1-9, in accordance with the GCSE grading system, and so identify the grade at which students are currently working.
Following each assessment, all students receive personalised QLAs , which identify the strongest skills, the strongest topics, and preferred question types. Students also receive a personalised SIR Form (Success/ Improve/ Respond), which identifies the Successes in each Assessment, suggestions on how the student Improve further, and questions to which the students are expected to Respond in class time, which in turn are designed to help students improve their answers. Preparing QLAs and SIR Forms for each student for each assessment is inefficient, particularly in KS3, as we currently have only one teacher of MFL who teaches every student in that Key Stage. It takes an inordinate amount of time, and is unsustainable in the long term.
Through this combination of assessments, students can be quickly identified if additional support or intervention is required. This can be through focused intervention support as well as supportive working from home tasks. Using both frequent monitoring in lessons and the termly reporting procedure, the level of success of interventions can be measured and new strategies, if required, put into place.
The Dynamo course (used in KS3), is new, modern and exciting, and offers differentiated textbooks from Y8 onwards (Rouge for Higher Ability, and Vert for Lower Ability students). It is also available online, so appeals to those who like using technology. In addition, we have a subscription to Linguascope (www.linguascope.com), which the students can access at home and during Formtimes, to learn, review and revise vocabulary.
We apply the UCS Behaviour policy for any student displaying low effort in class. In addition, two missed Homeworks equate to a Recall, and any student achieving lower than half marks for any of the regular vocabulary tests is asked to relearn the vocab and return for a retest.
There is an optional weekly Languages Club after school each Monday for keen Y7 students. Covid has unfortunately meant that other enrichment activities have been curtailed, but in the future we hope to offer a French breakfast and an inter-form Boules competition for Y7 students, visits to a French café/restaurant and visits from Theatre companies for Y8/9 students, and a residential trip to Paris for students in Y9/10. There is also a small library of French books and reading cards available for students to use in the classroom.
Our French teacher is a member of Bolton Hub and regularly attends meetings to discuss the MFL curriculum, to inform planning, to share good practice and to moderate assessments. In future there will be opportunities to join in with the inter-school MFL spelling bee and other MFL competitions.
Using the whole school feedback policy, students can reflect on their learning at regular intervals. This supports the progress and attainment of all students, and allows targeted intervention to be provided if required.
Although we have in the past taught French, German and Spanish, we currently only teach French in MFL, and all lessons are taught by a sole teacher who is a Languages specialist. This ensures that theKS3 and KS4 Curriculums and Schemes of Work have also been designed by a Languages specialist. Guidance has been provided by the Head of MFL at Golbourne High School, as well as fellow colleagues from other local schools at the Bolton Learning Hub for MFL. Each subject area curriculum is designed using a whole school platform, starting with a ‘road map’ that plans out the sequence of learning and ensuring that all subjects meet the National Curriculum requirements. Each key topic is then planned in more detail using a scheme of work. These show a detailed structure of lesson-by-lesson learning, assessment, and feedback procedures, as well as links to curriculum enhancement, digital learning, and cross-curricular links. KS3 Students receive a Knowledge Organiser for each Module taught, which details all the Grammar, Vocabulary and Phonics learned within that Module, and which students can use for reference both in class and at home.
We follow the school Marking and Behaviour Policies, and provide both regular verbal and whole class feedback, to which the students are expected to respond in order to improve their written work. Behaviour in MFL is generally good. Low level disruption is dealt with quickly and effectively in class.
We follow a digital course (Dynamo), with subscriptions for textbooks and Assessments. PowerPoint presentations are placed on Showbie, so students can access all necessary materials for each lesson, as well as for Homework. We also subscribe to Linguascope, which students can access at all times.
Going forward, as the school expands, we hope to reintroduce either German or Spanish, either from Y7, or in Y8 to the Higher ability students as a second foreign language.