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Our Trust of Schools

Modern Foreign Languages

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

Nelson Mandela

We are a department of passionate, specialist linguists, who have all experienced and benefitted from time living abroad, immersed in the cultures of the languages that we speak.

Meet the team

  • Joanne Taljaard – Teacher of French


A foreign language is not simply a subject to be learnt in a classroom but rather a means of communication for real purpose, imbued with the culture of the countries in which that language is spoken. As such, we aim to foster a true appreciation of those cultures as well as the ability to understand and communicate in both the written and spoken language.

Furthermore, our curriculum intends to:

  • foster an inquisitive mind with an enthusiasm for language learning through stimulating lessons.
  • foster positive attitudes towards and an interest in language learning.
  • raise awareness of the nature of language and language learning.
  • achieve communicative confidence and competence in the language.
  • offer students a range of activities through which to explore language.
  • provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation, with a view to encouraging students to continue their study of the language.
  • ensure that all students make minimum expected progress from Year 7 through to 13 (where applicable).
  • encourage students throughout their whole school career in further developing and fostering an appreciation of the use of their own language.

All students will study French at KS3 (Years 7-9) and, in line with the MFL Pedagogy Review 2016, we strongly encourage students to continue on to study it at GCSE. Our A-Level course also follows on from the KS4 curriculum, further deepening and strengthening students’ love and understanding of the language and its culture.

For those who wish to study a language beyond our school, the curriculum ensures that they have the linguistic and study skills and confidence to do so. For others, they leave us as better communicators who are tolerant, understanding, and open-minded. They feel confident about travelling abroad and open to the possibility of language learning in the future.

Our Curriculum Learning Pathway - French


French Curriculum Pathway (PDF)

Transition & building on KS2

As a department, we have collaborated with our local primary schools to identify what languages and content are being taught in MFL at KS2 and we understand that this varies greatly from school to school. We have used this to adjust our KS3 curriculum to ensure that all students begin their language learning journey with us with the appropriate level of challenge and/or support, as required. See the curriculum overview link above for specific information on how the MFL Curriculum links to KS2 and through the Lipson chronological year groups.


Key Stage 3

Our students follow a curriculum which has been created by the National Centre for Excellence for Language Pedagogy (NCELP) and focuses on the 3 principal pillars of language learning:

  • Phonics

Phonics is taught as the regular and frequent short bursts of practice of one or two SSCs (Sound Spelling Correspondence). This knowledge is then developed through integration with other activities. This might be as it arises in lessons (e.g., encouraging pupils to read aloud, especially unfamiliar words) or in planned aspects of vocabulary and grammar tasks. For example, many of the grammar activities draw on phonics knowledge (e.g., the difference in meaning between ‘ai’ and ‘a’ in French).

  • Vocabulary

Our curriculum addresses the what and the how of vocabulary learning. Vocabulary selection is based on word frequency and informed additionally by a meticulous scrutiny of the GCSE awarding body vocabulary lists. Small sets of words from different parts of speech, including the most common verbs, allow students to manipulate verbs and regularly create their own sentences. The scheme of work aims to maximise the number of encounters with new language to establish it first, and therefore emphasise the importance of ‘out of class’ vocabulary learning and pre-learning, using the most reliable (freely available) online tools. In class, students often work in pairs or small groups to consolidate and extend their word knowledge. Structured opportunities for learners to personalise their vocabulary and make meaning are also an important feature.

  • Grammar

The grammar spine is not driven by traditional ‘paradigms’ (e.g., full sets of verbs, article or adjectival agreements, all at once). However, in its totality the grammar spine will cover the full range of features for persons, subjects, tenses, and aspectual functions (‘complete’ versus ‘ongoing’), and a range of key syntax (word order and relations between words) over time. For example, after the introduction of high frequency verbs (in their infinitive and ‘short’ forms), small sets of meaningful grammatical features will be introduced and practised (such as expressing the present versus the past in the first person singular). Sets of grammatical functions are brought together every so often. For example, after a number of practice sequences have been undertaken, each focusing on pairs of features, a slightly wider planned set of features might be drawn together as required for some activities.

The 3 pillars are underpinned by meaningful practice. Opportunities are built in to provide plenty of practice, at different levels of control (structure and support) and spontaneity, in all modes and modalities. The aim of practice is to establish the knowledge of phonics, vocabulary and grammar that is required to understand or express meaning. First, this requires plentiful practice in understanding the new language. These practice activities are carefully designed to ensure that students pay close attention to the meaning and function of words, parts of words (morphology), and relations between words (syntax). Gradually, practice extends to production, which requires learners to recall language and manipulate it to communicate where there is a genuine ‘information gap’.

Key Stage 4

Students study all of the following themes on which the assessments are based.

  • Theme 1: Identity and culture
      • Topic 1: Me, my family and friends (Relationships with family and friends, Marriage/partnership)
      • Topic 2: Technology in everyday life (Social media, Mobile technology)
      • Topic 3: Free-time activities (Music, Cinema and TV, Food and eating out, Sport)
  • Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest
      • Topic 1: Home, town, neighbourhood and region
      • Topic 2: Social issues (Charity/voluntary work, Healthy/unhealthy living)
      • Topic 3: Global issues (The environment, Poverty/homelessness)
      • Topic 4: Travel and tourism
  • Theme 3: Current and future study and employment
    • Topic 1: My studies
    • Topic 2: Life at school/college
    • Topic 3: Education post-16
    • Topic 4: Jobs, career choices and ambitions

Our curriculum at both KS3 & KS4 is implemented through:

  • a minimum of 4 hours per fortnight of teaching time at KS3 / 5 hours per fortnight at KS4.
  • teaching the phonics of the target language.
  • extensive planned practice in translating and reproducing language accurately as well as recognising patterns in it.
  • ensuring students have a systematic knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar of the target language and how to manipulate it.
  • giving students the skills to be able to communicate comfortably within three time frames (past, present, future).
  • equipping students to understand, give and justify opinions on a range of topics .
  • building confidence so that students can express themselves in the target language.
  • providing students with the skills they need to confidently sit exams and have strategies to cope with the unknown.
  • using authentic resources from the target language countries when possible.
  • developing reading fluency so that students can read with intonation, prosody, speed and stamina.
  • developing writing fluency through the deliberate teaching of sentence construction, explicitly focusing on the main clause and the addition of component parts.

Key Stage 5

At A-Level, students receive 5 hours per week of classroom time with the expectation of 5 additional hours of independent study, outside of the classroom.

Students further develop their linguistic skills alongside their understanding of the culture and society of countries where French is spoken. Students study technological and social change, looking at diversity and the benefits it brings. They will study highlights of French-speaking artistic culture, including francophone music and cinema, and learn about political engagement and who wields political power in the French-speaking world.

Students also explore the influence of the past on present-day French-speaking communities. Throughout their studies, they will learn the language in the context of French-speaking countries and the issues and influences which have shaped them.

Students will study a French text and a film and have the opportunity to carry out independent research on an area of their choice.

What Examination Courses do we follow?

Our students follow AQA GCSE French and AQA A-level French.

How do we measure attainment and progress?

At KS3 - Students are assessed on their ability to understand and use the phonics, vocabulary and grammar that they have learnt in both spoken and written word. They will complete a mini-assessment at the end of each half term and 2 longer assessments throughout the year.

At KS4 - We measure student progress based on the following assessment objectives:

  • AO1: Listening – understand and respond to different types of spoken language.
  • AO2: Speaking – communicate and interact effectively in speech.
  • AO3: Reading – understand and respond to different types of written language.
  • AO4: Writing – communicate in writing.

At KS5 - We measure student progress based on the following assessment objectives:

  • AO1: Understand and respond:
    • in speech to spoken language including face-to-face interaction
    • in writing to spoken language drawn from a variety of sources.
  • AO2: Understand and respond:
    • in speech to written language drawn from a variety of sources
    • in writing to written language drawn from a variety of sources.
  • AO3: Manipulate the language accurately, in spoken and written forms, using a range of lexis and structure.
  • AO4: Show knowledge and understanding of, and respond critically and analytically to, different aspects of the culture and society of countries/communities where the language is spoken.

How do we enrich our subject outside the classroom?

In the classroom we create a doorway to the world. Through extra-curricular & online activities we ensure that MFL is a subject that students are keen to access outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to:

  • participate in the MFL Culture and Film enrichment program, after school on Mondays.
  • access the wealth of foreign language films available on Netflix.
  • access authentic language podcasts, music and radio.
  • access the recommended language learning websites that are available to them - Linguascope, Gaming Grammar, Quizlet and Memrise.

Useful websites: