Aims of the Department
At Fulham Boys School we aim to develop independent and creative language learners who go on to maintain a lifelong interest in languages. The MFL team wants all of our boys to enjoy learning, make progress and achieve. We recognise that modern language skills are a prerequisite in today’s professional job market and we promote advanced study of languages. As well as achieving highly academically, we think it is important to promote language confidence and skills for real-world purposes. Our aim is that boys develop openness towards other cultures and understanding through their learning of the richness unique to each language. In a global community, understanding the principles of different languages and how to apply them to learning new ones is a vital skill.
Employers know that linguists have:
- An international dimension
- An awareness of cultural differences
- Team-working, oral communication, problem-solving
- A skill for life
Linguists are well regarded by universities and employers since Modern Languages GCSEs and A-Levels give students an advantage in the job market at every level, thanks to the many transferable skills which they will have mastered during their ‘Linguistic’ journey.
Our Approach to Lessons
The methodology upon which the MFL department bases its teaching and learning is based on the EPI (Extensive Processing Instruction) approach to second language acquisition. Challenging language is taught through flooding comprehensible input, organising content by communications functions and related construction with a big focus on reading and listening as modelling. Furthermore, we teach through the receptive skills in “chunks” which are presented in a sentence builder style format. This reduces the cognitive load and allows pupils to be able to communicate meaningfully quicker.
To support students in lessons, they each have a workbook which models these sentence builders that integrate not just vocabulary, but the structures and grammar required to achieve independence. Chunks of language are recycled throughout units of study, year groups and key stages meaning that schemes of work are carefully sequenced to ensure that links are explicit between current and previous learning and that there is optimal opportunity to retrieval practice. This means that students are constantly building language into their long-term memory. This increases motivation and confidence in students as they feel more able to communicate. We want boys to feel challenged but develop their resilience and problem-solving skills.
Students supplement their in-class learning with weekly learning homework which are tested in class based on the sentence builders for the Unit of study. Embedding these key structures is key so that students are able to build and be creative with this language is KS4.
By the end of KS5, we want our students to develop advanced-level, transferable language skills alongside a deeper appreciation of the target language culture with an emphasis on promoting understanding of grammar in order to allow spontaneous and creative use of language to suit different purposes.
In Year 7, students choose if they want to study French or Spanish. From Year 8 boys are given the possibility to study another language as part of the co-curricular programme.
The department is heavily involved in the school’s co-curricular programme, including lunchtime activities.
We currently offer French & Spanish booster sessions, dual-linguist options from Year 8 and early GCSE preparation for bilingual students as well as a Japanese co-curricular club.
Latin is offered as a curriculum option from Year 10, to lead to a GCSE qualification.
Pupils are offered opportunities to practise their language skills in context and learn more about other countries through a programme of courses and visits abroad.
What do the students say about learning in MFL?
MFL in Spring – by Joshua Tindale-Paul 2021
In French for World Book Day last year we looked at Les Misérables, the author who wrote it and attempting to understand French literature. In our French World Book Day lesson, we watched ‘Do You Hear The People Sing’, then we read the first few pages of Les Misérables and explored the language. In normal lessons though we have to use French to ask to sit down and take our blazers. Also, to enhance our speaking and listening skills we can be the teacher for the first 5 – 10 minutes and ask for an assistant (someone to control the computer), a point keeper for the points board and a point keeper for individual points, all in French.