Modern Foreign Languages

Staffing of the department

Mrs Watkins – Teacher of French and Spanish, Joint Head of Department
Mrs Jacob – Teacher of French and Spanish, Joint Head of Department
Ms Ghelma – Teacher of French and Spanish, MFL Coordinator
Ms Painvin – Teacher of French and Spanish

He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Educational philosophy/Aims of the curriculum

Languages immerse learners into a whole new world of culture and provide them with a new perspective on reality beyond the environment they live in. Languages encourage students to broaden their horizons, become more tolerant individuals and deepen their understanding of cultural differences and diverse lifestyles. Language learning teaches numerous transferable skills for the world of work, such as problem solving, team work, resilience and boosts their confidence in communicating in both English and a foreign language. A St Ursula’s linguist is enthusiastic, hard-working, open minded, resilient, confident and culturally aware. In lessons, pupils are taught to speak confidently in the target language whilst developing independent learning skills in listening, reading, speaking and writing through a range of engaging and authentic resources. Students learning a modern language will gain a better understanding of their mother tongue by exploring and contrasting the cultural customs, grammar patterns, vocabulary and pronunciation of a foreign language. 

French and Spanish are truly global languages and two of the most desired languages by British and international employers. They open doors to the Francophone and Hispanic worlds and provide students with the opportunities to study, work and travel in Europe, Africa, North and South America and South East Asia.   

In order to gain the new English Baccalaureate qualification a student needs to have a GCSE qualification in a modern foreign language. Some universities are now asking that students have at least one language before they can take up a place on a course and during a university course you will get the opportunity to work and live abroad.

KS3 curriculum

Through our curriculum children will be able to:

  • Understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources

  • Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation

  • Write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt

  • Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied.

KS3 Programme of study

Students tend to have had a range of experiences of language learning and usually arrive from KS2 with some knowledge of at least one foreign language. Therefore the aim of the Year 7 curriculum is to introduce the essential key skills, to deliver a basic understanding of key grammatical language such as verbs, nouns and adjectives in an MFL context. Students are encouraged to communicate in the target language as much as possible and learn the essential classroom language required to understand and be able to communicate basic information about self, family and others. Curriculum links are made with other subjects such as History, Art, Geography. Independent learning expertise is developed through the skills of speaking, writing, reading and listening and the use of a range of engaging and authentic resources. There are high expectations of students to consolidate learning at home and they are regularly monitored through their KS3 weekly homework. 

In year 8 key grammatical concepts and structures are revisited and students are introduced to more complex grammar such as the past tense. They develop their vocabulary to go beyond their immediate needs and interests, allowing them to give and justify opinions and take part in discussion about wider issues. Throughout the year, in French, pupils widen their understanding of Francophone cultures around the world through exposure to the culture, customs and geography of other French-speaking countries such as the Ivory Coast and the Caribbean islands. In Spanish, they widen their awareness of Hispanic cultures around the world through study of the culture, customs and geography of Mexico. Students are given the opportunity to explore the themes of Mexican food and drink, Mexican art (which links to the Year 8 Art curriculum) and famous Mexican people. 

During year 9, the focus is on the retrieval and reinforcement of the key themes for the GCSE. They consolidate their understanding of tenses and learn to manipulate a variety of key grammatical structures and patterns. Skills developed will include: transcribing, translating, initiating and developing conversations, expressing ideas clearly and creatively, writing prose and reading a variety of texts. In French, pupils’ knowledge of grammar and language is developed through the study of a European Film, Il A Déjà Tes Yeux. Students explore key topics such as self and family, relationships, film genres, daily life, jobs and give opinions using increasingly complex language structures. In Spanish, pupils complete a project for UK charity Shelterbox, and through a curriculum link with Geography, we focus on natural disasters in South America and the geography and culture of one Latin American country in more detail. They study key topics such as daily life, jobs, illness and giving opinions, as well as world issues such as the environment, solidarity, fair trade and rights using increasingly complex language and structures.

Special requirements

A small pocket sized French and Spanish dictionary should be purchased (from Amazon or any good bookstore)

Links to useful sites for KS3 students, parents and members of the public (vocabulary practice) (grammar practice) / (online dictionaries) (vocabulary learning) (grammar and topic vocabulary learning)