Modern Foreign Languages
“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own” said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, outlining very succinctly the reason why at Hockerill we put the learning of foreign languages at the heart of all learning. Learning foreign languages not only provides essential life tools in a globalised world but also allows learners to become confident and competent communicators with an awareness of their own culture and the culture of others around them.
Our aim at Hockerill is to give students confident possession of their innate linguistic abilities, and to help them discover where these abilities lie. This is achieved through offering all students opportunities to excel within a distinctive International Baccalaureate based curriculum and a rich co-curricular offering.
All students at Hockerill will study at least two foreign languages to GCSE level, starting with French or German as first foreign language in Year 7 and then adding a second foreign language in Year 8, choosing from French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin or Spanish.
To achieve our aim of developing competent and effective communicators in foreign languages, we will deliver all our lessons through the target language to create an ideal immersion environment. The classroom experience will always be supplemented by our extensive and excellent programme of visits and exchanges which every year gives our students the opportunity to experience the culture and people in the target language country.
Enquiring and caring global citizens
Language is the prism through which we perceive other cultures. It is not only our aim to encourage a natural curiosity about the local and global world our students grow up in, while equipping them with the tools to access its cultures as well as the competences and opportunities to experience and learn about these first-hand. "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", said Nelson Mandela.
Excellence in education
Our target language tuition for all students creates an immersion learning environment that aims to recreate the target language and target culture environment in the classroom. This is extended through our unique bilingual programme that enables most students to study some Music in Year 7 as well as History and Geography through French or German in Years 9 and 10. It will further aid acquisition of and provide exposure to the foreign language and thereby equip learners with valuable transferable learning tools. Lastly, the outstanding and comprehensive programme of visit and exchanges connects the classroom with the real world and challenges students to apply their developing linguistic skills while experiencing other people in their cultures.
Language acquisition aims to develop a respect for, and understanding of, other languages and cultures, and is equally designed to equip the student with a skills base to facilitate further language learning.
Concept-Based Student-led Inquiry
The objectives of language acquisition encompass the factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive dimensions of knowledge. The student’s knowledge and understanding will be developed through:
• learning language
• learning through language
• learning about language (Halliday 1985)
Approaches to Learning
The following are at the heart of the Modern Foreign Languages curriculum, allowing students to thrive.
Thinking skills. critical thinking. creativity and innovation are critical as students learn to problem solve.
Communication skills ensure that students successfully communicate their intentions.
Social skills allow students to work in groups and discuss ideas and concepts.
Self-management skills. organisation. affective. Reflection Mean that students are efficiently working and improving.
Research skills. information literacy. media literacy allow students to produce work that has depth and breadth, integrity and flair.
Approaches to Teaching
All students at Hockerill study two Modern Foreign Language (MFL) of the six that form the curriculum. The languages are delivered through a communicative target language immersion approach. The inclusive classroom learning experience in College is greatly enriched through an extensive trips and exchanges programme as well as the bilingual Humanities studies in Year 9 and 10, which further enhances the immersion experience.
For Year 7 students are giving the choice between French and German as first foreign language and almost always are students able to study their chosen language (All MFL courses are foreign language acquisition courses, which means students with prior knowledge a language must not choose this as a subject at Hockerill). The first foreign language will be studied until the end of Year 11 and the course concludes with the GCSE examinations.
For Year 8 all students are invited to express a first and second choice for their second foreign language, again selecting from the remaining five available languages. Almost all students are allocated their preferred language and all students will be able to study either their first or second choice second Modern Foreign Language.
Multiple broad interdisciplinary connections exist between Languages studies and several other subject areas such as Geography & History (identifying the target language speaking world and talking about histories in these areas), Maths (Use of numbers for dates, talking about money, modern media, surveys and many more), Music. Sport & Literature (Considering the history of music/literature/sport in the target language country as well as talking about modern music/literature/sport).
Literacy is developed in the four skills: Listen, Reading, Speaking and Writing. The thorough understanding of linguistic concepts such as vocabulary, grammar, genres, pronunciation and many more lie at the heart of the successful delivery of the modern foreign languages curriculum.
The use of numbers in the target language is a permanent part of MFL lessons. Competencies are developed from the first lesson on.
Developing international mindedness as well as an awareness of British values is a further key focus in the delivery of the MFL curriculum alongside teaching and learning communicative skills.
The consideration of International Mindedness and British Values begins in the classroom when learning about the target language culture while collaborating effectively and respectfully with peers. However, learning modern foreign languages at Hockerill is always much more than successfully acquiring the communicational tool of other languages. The learning about target language cultures, experiencing them first-hand and reflecting about them, also in relation to students’ home languages and values. Here our students have numerous opportunities to develop their understanding of and competences in applying some attributes of the IB Learner Profile:
· Inquirers: Develop a natural curiosity that allows students to become lifelong learners
· Open-minded: Students understand and embrace other cultures. They recognize and celebrate their own backgrounds and learn tolerance for others
· Risk-Takers: Students are brave in the face of new challenges. They strive to take on new roles and to defend their own beliefs.
· Reflective: Students reflect on their own learning. They can adjust for weaknesses and strengths.
For many students learning highlights on their pathway to becoming competent, confident and accomplished foreign language learners is the participation in the Faculty’s extensive trips and exchanges programme. Every visit to another country enables students to immerse themselves into a new culture, practise and test their competences while meeting new people, making friends and often memories for life.
Throughout the whole language learning process students are able to learn about their own values, often British values, as well as the values of others. The expanding and deepening content of the MFL curriculum and lastly the first-hand experiences continuously introduce and reinforce International Mindedness & British Values.
Purpose: How does the curriculum support a holistic approach to education that goes beyond academic development?
The core aim of developing competent communicators in at least two modern foreign languages and doing so through a target languages immersion approach benefits learners far beyond gaining the skill to speak two further languages. Multilingualism has a significant effect on cognitive development, especially so in young people. Therefore, learning foreign languages positively affects learning and progress across the academic curriculum range as well as outside the academic context. Furthermore, the required learning skills are always transferable and further support the general learning of students. Being a confident and competent communicator in multiple languages will be an outstanding attribute in academic environments as well as the professional world.
Environment: How is the curriculum adjusted to ensure all students can succeed?
All students are encouraged to follow the prescribed MFL curriculum of two modern foreign languages at Hockerill. Throughout the courses individual learning needs are reviewed and addressed in a variety of ways to achieve the highest level individual attainment for every learner. Most learner groups across the age range are set up as mixed ability. Student cooperation and mutual support are a key element of the approach to teaching and learning. The approach benefits the support giver as well as the receiver and roles will vary over time. Differentiation of different types is used, to further support each learner and achieve consistently high results in external examinations.
Learning: How is feedback written into the curriculum to ensure that all students are set challenging goals?
Students receive regular formal written and informal verbal feedback. The written feedback is given through Faculty feedback forms specific to the course of study (IBMYP, GCSE, IBDP). Written feedback on summative assessments will be given twice per half term and once informal on a vocabulary/grammar test (IBMYP, GCSE).
Verbal feedback takes place ad hoc and may precede/follow formal written feedback. It may also be given spontaneously in class following the review of work but can also have a more formal set up when it takes place in the context of major internal assessments such as mock examinations.
CAS and Extra Curricular activities are continuously addressed and provided throughout the age and ability range within the context of teaching and learning in class as well as practically outside the timetabled curriculum context.
Within the lesson context students are supported in their development towards becoming active, responsible and open-minded individuals. Content and texts used as resources normally come from target language countries. However, invariably these can be linked to topics with international relevance as well as the requirements of respective courses. Learning tasks therefore develop linguistic competence but also foster an interest in other cultures as well as a balanced, open-minded and reflective approach of students towards their own and other cultures. Furthermore, tasks often provide opportunities for students to interact with members of the wider College community, our local community or international representatives.
The work in the classroom is accompanied by numerous opportunities for students outside timetabled lessons. The most significant area of experience here is the Faculty’s extensive trips and exchanges programme. The programme offers all students chances to travel abroad either on cultural visits or exchanges with our international partners in Europe (Belgian, France, German, Italy and Spain) and Asia (China and Japan). The first cultural visits take place for students in Year 7; the first exchanges take place for students in Year 8. Trips and visits are also run for Year 9 students and in Year 10 students can take part in the work experience exchange programme to Liege/Belgium or Muenster/Germany. The work experience exchange with Muenster is also available to Year 12 students. The cultural visit to China as well as the exchange programme with our partners in Japan is open to students in Year 10-12.
Furthermore, students can support the teachers of our Community Languages classes, classes for primary school children as well as classes for adults, as foreign language assistants. Sixth form students also offer tutoring sessions for younger learners or have organised cultural clubs looking at target culture films, literature or news as well as board games from the different target cultures.
CAS/Extra Curricular activities are the formal settings at Hockerill and within the Languages Faculty that promote the transfer of academic learning and conceptual understanding to a practical application in students’ real-life contexts. Therefore, they further extend and consolidate learning in a meaningful and relevant manner, which gives them great importance.
Similar to opportunities for CAS/Extra Curricular activities, links to Theory of Knowledge (TOK) permeate all teaching and learning of modern foreign languages and is often linked to the former. Learning focuses on content that is of importance to the real-life experience of students by being linked to the world that live in and it progressively gains in depth and complexity over time. The teaching promotes independent thinking and the development of critical views and positions. Furthermore, reflection processes about the world that we live in and our role in them initiated.
As well as using the skills developed in TOK in acquiring an additional language, students consider the following guiding questions that can connect TOK to the five themes of the language B curriculum:
· Is it possible to think without language?
· What would be lost if the whole world shared one common language?
· If people speak more than one language, is what they know different in each language?
· Do you think maths, logic or music should be classified as languages?
· In what ways can language be used to influence, persuade or manipulate people?
· Does language describe our experience of the world, or does it actively shape our experience of the world?
· How are metaphors used in the construction of knowledge?
· To what extent is our perspective determined by our membership of a particular culture?
· To what extent are we aware of the impact of culture on what we believe or know?
· Is there anything that is true for all cultures?