"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way."
At St Francis de Sales, we believe that the acquisition of language is foundational to our education; through our grasp of both English and of modern foreign languages. We believe these languages work in partnership, equipping children with a wealth of linguistic skills. Our curriculum is sequenced to inspire pupils of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve their full potential and to become lifelong language learners. As pupils deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Spanish language, they acquire transferable skills that will be beneficial in a range of contexts throughout their lives. As Frank Smith points out, we want to “open doors” for our pupils, to help them flourish in a global world.
By the time our pupils are ready to leave us in Year 6, we want them to not only have the ability to communicate in a foreign language but also become captivated by the richness and complexity of different cultures. As they become immersed in learning about new cultures, they will grow to become even more accepting and tolerant of the races, religions and beliefs which make up our astonishing planet.
To achieve this vision, key themes are sequenced from Year 3 through to Year 6, with children building upon their skills year by year in a cohesive and progressive manner. Golden strands are implemented, such as “School Life’ or “Self and Numbers”, and the sequencing sets out how the vocabulary and conversational skills progress and develop in each of these strands from Year 3 to Year 6.
Spanish lessons use song and repetition to recap and embed prior knowledge and introduce new vocabulary. Guided by a specialist MFL teacher, this knowledge is then placed in context with pupils constructing sentences and other written activities which showcase their understanding. In addition, children develop oracy skills, such as pronunciation and intonation through engaging in Spanish conversation. Teachers use instructional language across the curriculum, with examples such as, ‘Escribe la fecha’ which means, ‘Write the date’. Associating this vocabulary with actions helps to embed it in childrens' memory and is particularly beneficial for visual and kinaesthetic learners.
Children are challenged to reach their full potential through continuous formative assessment. Targeted questioning is used throughout lessons to assess understanding in order to support and challenge children in line with their ability. Class ‘hotspots’ (target areas) are generated each lesson and revisited during the week in order to embed new knowledge in childrens’ long term memory. These are then used to drive the ‘Formative Five’ at the start of the next lesson, whereby the teacher recaps the 'hotspots' based upon their prior assessment.
It is essential that children at SFDS value the acquisition of language as a key skill for later life. ‘Gifted and talented’ children are encouraged to deepen their knowledge even further as part of the ‘Spanish Stars’ team, who gather weekly to extend their learning. Pupils apply this knowledge through our annual trip to a Spanish tapas restaurant where they can practise conversing with native waiters and waitresses. In addition, our annual trip to Barcelona sees pupils place the knowledge and skills which they have acquired over 4 years, into real-life context. Not only is this a great celebration of their hard-work, but an exciting opportunity to become immersed in the vibrant culture.
It is imperative that we continually adapt our teaching and learning strategies to best meet the needs of our pupils. In order to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of MFL, various strategies are put in place to monitor the subject: