Modern Foreign Languages are an integral and facilitating series of subjects which enable learners to develop intellectually and socially. The purpose of the languages curriculum at Uxbridge High School is to foster curiosity about the wider world, train and enhance literacy and problem-solving skills, and equip learners with a versatile skill set that will enable future success in a global and multicultural society.
In their study of languages students are encouraged to make cross-curricular links through a range of content which includes issues such as employment, human rights, the environment, different types of family, personal identity, and the arts and entertainment. They explore this content through a range of skills and learning methods they are familiar with from other subjects, such as sequencing, problem solving, inference, verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills, and kinaesthetic activities. New technologies are also widely used to support in-class learning and improve upon the digital literacy of learners.
Uxbridge High School builds on and strengthens on the skills of understanding and interpreting written and spoken texts that students developed as part of their primary school curriculum.
At Foundation level students are introduced to the core competencies that make a successful linguist. These are practiced and revisited in each topic of study until students are able to recall and manipulate language with confidence.
These include an awareness of:
• Sound/spelling links • Reading for gist • Listening for gist • Basic etymology • Register of language • Genders of nouns • Intensifiers • Pattern recognition
Across the languages currently offered at Foundation level, the students learn vocabulary to describe their everyday likes and dislikes - be it their friends, family, hobbies, school or town. Through these topics, students are shown links with the wider world around them. When “animals” are taught as knowledge in the Spanish stream, wider discussion is opened up about the Hispanic traditions of bull fighting. When “school” is taught in the French stream, the demonstration of the differences between the French and British systems lead our youngest students to discuss the motivation behind France’s secular school system.
At Transition level, students now appreciate the subtle cultural differences between the language they study and English. They have also been guided into recognising that many of the skills and knowledge they have gained has a direct application in English and many other part of the curriculum. Transition students develop greater skills of linguistic manipulation – they are aware that basic vocabulary such as “good” and “bad” is no longer good enough, and encouraged to develop their own use of synonyms. The topics taught in the Transition years still consolidate the Foundation and feed into the Mastery topics, so students are still reusing and repurposing skills and knowledge from earlier teaching. The depth in which the familiar topics of hobbies, personal relationships and
school is extended, and greater opportunities for extra-curricular development are offered. For example, during the broad frame of the “hobbies” topic, Spanish students undertake project work on the art of Frieda Kahlo, an artist whose works can be easily discovered by students beyond the classroom.
Students who continue to Mastery are able to do so because of the constant repetition of familiar concepts with increasing complexity throughout the Foundation and Transition years. The Mastery years are intended to hone the students’ skills to the point where they are commenting critically and inferring information from a wide range of texts and realia of a similar level of challenge and maturity as the sources and literary texts they are exposed to across the rest of the Mastery curriculum.
Issues discussed and explored at Mastery level include:
• Immigration• The environment • Same-sex relationships • Poverty • Homelessness • Online safety • Tourism • Youth Addiction • Careers
As well as broadening their cultural horizons and empathy, many of these topics engender strong opinions in students, pushing them to produce written and spoken work defending and justifying their opinions as well as contributing directing to their SMSC development and preparing them for life in modern Britain.
The many cultural facets of the MFL curriculum allows many ways in which students can be directed to extra-curricular experiences. Examples of opportunities which have been taken include:
- Kölner Weihnachtsmärkte
- Frieda Kahlo exhibition at the V&A Museum
- Arsenal Doubles Club (UHS students have previously been chosen as finalists!)
- Pan’s Labyrinth screening at the BFI, London
- Residential trip to Barcelona
- German GCSE revision conference
- Theatre productions in French and Spanish
Through the curriculum students are able to see how studying a language can link to a number of career paths including:
Marketing • Recruitment • Teaching • Government • Events Management • Procurement • Law • Aviation • Engineering • Translation/Interpreting • Medicine • Journalism
Students from Transition level onwards are also routinely made aware of the appeal to many universities and FE colleges of having a GCSE in a Modern Foreign Language.