Modern Foreign Languages
Head of Department: Celine Dwyer
We are a dynamic team of 11 teachers and we are also very lucky to count amongst us a resource assistant and three Foreign Language Assistants. Each teacher teaches at least two languages.
The MFL Department aims to provide a disciplined environment in which all students can endeavour to achieve their very best. Through outstanding quality of provision, teachers support and inspire students to embark upon a lifelong enjoyment of foreign languages as well as enhance their appreciation of other countries and cultures enabling them to take their place in a dynamic, globalised society.
The MFL classroom is a place where…
- Students have the highest standards of behaviour and feel safe.
- All students are motivated and supported by their own and their teachers’ high expectations of success.
- Ideas are shared, respect for others’ opinions is paramount and everyone’s contribution is valued.
- Students are able to explore ideas, take risks and make mistakes in a supportive and fun learning environment.
- Confidence in using the language is nurtured.
- Both feedback on written and spoken contributions and student assessment are accessible, meaningful and constructive.
- Achievements, both in attainment and effort, are celebrated and rewarded; students take pride in their own and each other’s work.
- There is an ongoing dialogue with students and parents about students’ work, achievements and next steps required to further progress.
- The quality of teaching creates stimulating and outstanding lessons that motivate, enthuse and encourage students to become active independent learners and develop a responsible attitude to their own work.
- All learning styles should be catered for through engaging and varied lessons.
- As well as the proficiency in listening, reading, speaking and writing skills in the foreign language, English literacy skills are reinforced and students gain a greater awareness of their own native tongue.
- Students’ horizons are broadened and tolerance encouraged; understanding, interest, respect for and empathy with other nationalities and cultures are developed.
We are all passionate about our subject and do our best to promote Languages.
Learning Languages at ICC does not just happen in the classroom. We organise many events and competitions around the College for the various Key Stages.
Key Stage 3
- Students decide on which language they will study in the Spring Term of Year 6 from either French or Spanish.
- Top sets take a second language in Year 8 – at the moment, French students study German and Spanish groups take French.
- They study their language for 6 hours a fortnight in Year 7 and in Year 8. In Year 8 top sets have 4 hours of their first foreign language and 2 hours of their second language.
- Students are taught in ability groups according to their English SATs and will be in the same groups for English and Humanities.
- KS3 builds a strong foundation in key language and grammar concepts and we focus on the productive skills of speaking and writing.
- We do not follow a course textbook as such, but do dip into Métro and Listos.
- Students are issued with an ICC vocabulary booklet at the beginning of Year 7 and Year 8, which details all of the vocabulary and grammar they will need – they are required to bring these to every lesson. (Copies of the booklet can also be found on the IT system).
- Students also have the opportunity to purchase a magazine subscription for the year as well as revision guides and dictionaries at cost price.
- In Year 7, we learn about the following topics: Welcome to French/Spanish, Phonics, Introducing yourself and Family, A French/Spanish text, Countries and Nationalities, School, Free Time.
- In Year 8, we cover the topic of Holidays, including destinations, accommodation, how to get around in France/Spain, problems whilst on holiday, what to do on holiday.
- Throughout KS3 teachers will develop cultural understanding and give students opportunities to use language for their own purposes. Therefore, if you visit France, Spain or Germany, please do encourage them to bring back things in order to share their experiences with their class.
- Students are assessed at the end of each module of work in at least two of the following skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. They will have the opportunity to work individually and as part of a pair or group in preparation for some assessments, developing their teamwork and leadership skills alongside their language skills.
- Students will have regular vocabulary tests based on the material in their ICC booklets.
- As well as formal assessments, students will also be assessed on an informal basis by teachers in lessons and by looking at their books and homework.
- We also would encourage parents to support students in their language learning, which can be done in a number of ways. For example: having a bilingual dictionary at home, encouraging them to access sites such as ‘Linguascope’ (they are given a username and password for this site), encouraging them to listen/watch foreign language radio, music and television – there are plenty of options on YouTube.
- There are a variety of enrichment opportunities made available to students in KS3, including a residential trip to France and Language Clubs in all three languages run by our Foreign Language Assistants. In Year 7 the whole of the Year Group take part in a national Foreign Language Spelling Bee and the whole College takes part in the European Day of Languages in September.
Key Stage 4
- Students have the opportunity to study GCSE French, German or Spanish (and study more than one language if they wish). This is a 3 year course starting in Year 9 with the AQA examining board. Students have 4 hours teaching time per fortnight.
- Teachers in the Department are passionate about the benefits that learning a language can bring. We strongly believe in languages as a skill for life and something students should enjoy and find rewarding. Languages lessons should expand students' cultural knowledge whilst developing their language skills.
- There are 3 broad themes that will be studied at GCSE.
Theme 1: Identity and culture
Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest
Theme 3: Current and future study and employment
Links to specifications:
The GCSE is made up of the four key skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing. Each of these account for 25% of the final grade and are assessed with formal examinations at the end of Year 11.
- The main change from the most recent specification is that there are no more Controlled Assessments for speaking and writing.
- There is an emphasis on building independence and spontaneity in the language as students develop a greater understanding of grammar and vocabulary in order to communicate and interact effectively for a variety of purposes across a range of specified contexts.
- Students should engage fully in language lessons as they develop the 4 key skills, completing their regularly set homework and challenging themselves to achieve their best.
Every two years: French exchange to Caen in Year 9, German exchange to Fritzlar in Year 9, Koblenz trip to the German markets (Years 9 and 10) and Linguistic trip to Salamanca, Spain in Year 9 which happens every year.
Key Stage 5
We offer three languages at A Level: French, German and Spanish. Our numbers are healthy and on average we count around 10 students per class both in Year 12 and Year 13 with at least 90% retention from Year 12 to Year 13.
We follow the AQA AS/A level GCE specification. It is a linear course designed to last two years.
However, at the end of Year 12, AS students decide whether to:
- Continue straight to A Level with no exam
- Sit AS exams and finish with an AS qualification
- Sit AS exams, then decide whether to continue to A Level or not
The specification requires that students:
- listen and respond to a variety of spoken sources, including authentic sources;
- read and respond to a variety of written texts, including authentic sources, covering different contexts, registers, styles and genres;
- adapt their spoken and written language appropriately for different situations and purposes;
- use the language accurately to express facts and ideas and to present explanations, opinions and information in both speech and writing;
- transfer meaning from English into the modern foreign language;
- understand and apply the grammatical system and a range of structures as detailed in the AS specification;
- study materials that illustrate aspects of the contemporary society, cultural background and heritage of one or more of the countries or communities where the language is spoken.
You can get more details of the specifications including lists of topics and grammar points following the links below:
You will have 9 lessons over the two week timetable and you will also have half an hour with the assistant every week. The session with the assistant is a fantastic opportunity for you to improve your spoken French and, when the time comes, to practise your oral exam. Attendance at the session with the assistant is OBLIGATORY and forms part of the A Level course.
Attendance at all lessons and completion of all work set is a MINIMUM requirement for success, no matter how talented you are. We expect you to also become increasingly independent in your study of the language and culture of France. You will be expected to complete an Independent Study Log which will be monitored by your teachers on a weekly basis.
BE ACTIVE NOT PASSIVE in the classroom:
- Concentrate and take notes without being asked
- Exploit opportunities to speak in French in pairs and groups
- Participate in classroom discussion in French and push yourself to produce longer utterances
- Arrive with books/work required for the lesson
- Ask questions if you do not understand something
- Answer questions in your head directed at others
- Mentally correct/improve the answers of others
- Take note of other students’ impressive vocabulary
We offer trips abroad for all three languages.
The German students can go either to the Christmas Markets in Koblentz or for a cultural visit to Berlin.
The French students can take part in a brilliant Exchange with the Lycée Jean Guehenno in Fougères, Brittany. During the week in France, students also complete three days work experience in a local primary school. The benefit of this trip is that you get to welcome your penfriend back!
There is also a cultural trip to Paris which is run with the English Department.
Finally, the Spanish group can experience a few days in Valencia to witness the amazing Fallas festival in March.
We think that learning a language is a crucial life skill, especially in today’s global economy. Take a look below at the advantages that learning a language gives to you on both on a personal level and to your CV!
1. Languages are a life skill
Knowledge of a foreign language is not just another exam grade – it is a concrete and demonstrable life skill, like being able to drive a car or touch-type, and it is a skill highly valued by employers.
2. Languages teach you communication skills and adaptability
Learning how to interact with speakers of other languages means you are less likely to be stuck in one mode of thinking. It can help you see things from a range of perspectives, develop your problem-solving skills, and make you more adaptable, resourceful and creative.
3. Languages teach you cultural awareness
The ability to operate cross-culturally is becoming just as valued by employers as straight language skills.
4. Languages give you a sense of achievement
Learning a language combines the intellectual with the practical as no other subject does. You need to be able to think on your feet, but when you can find exactly the right foreign word or phrase, you get a real sense of achievement.
5. Languages are a social skill
Languages are very sociable. If you enjoy being with people and communicating with them, the chances are you’ll enjoy being able to do this in a foreign language too.
6. Languages give you the edge in the job market
Today there is a global market for jobs. It is not necessary to be completely fluent in a foreign language to be an asset to any potential employer. Knowing how to meet and greet people from other countries and cultures is a valued skill.
7. Learning languages gives you greater opportunities to travel and work abroad
There are many opportunities to travel or work with organisations abroad where some knowledge of a foreign language is a clear advantage.
8. Languages combine well with virtually any subject for further study
The range of combined degrees and further education courses involving a language is limitless – from Accountancy with Russian to Theatre Studies with Italian. Many universities even offer funding for students to continue or extend their language knowledge by travelling or working abroad during the vacations.
9. Learning a language improves memory skills
Language learning is a great way for training memory, a skill needed in every other subject area.
Find out what trips we have gone on in the past.