“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
– Nelson Mandela
The MFL Department at DCHS aims to encourage positive attitudes and enthusiasm towards Modern Foreign Language learning, whilst simultaneously promoting understanding, interest, respect and empathy for other nationalities and cultures.
We are committed to providing enjoyment and intellectual stimulation in a supportive environment, so that each individual is able to achieve his or her potential across all four skills; listening, reading, speaking and writing.
To encourage positive attitudes and enthusiasm towards Modern Foreign Language learning
To raise an awareness of the cultures of the countries of the languages studied
To develop an awareness of the nature and process of language learning
To enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of their own language and cultural differences
To achieve communicative confidence and competence in the language(s)
To provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation in a supportive environment
To create a sound basis of the skills, language and attitude needed for further study, work and leisure
Key Stage 3
Learning a foreign language provides an opening to other cultures. A high-quality languages education fosters students curiosity and deepens their understanding of the world. This allows students to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond, both in speech and in writing. Learning a language also provides opportunities for students to communicate for practical purposes and learn new ways of thinking.
As students progress throughout Key Stage 3, they are able to develop the breadth and depth of their competence in listening, speaking, reading and writing, based on a sound foundation of core grammar and vocabulary. This allows students to understand and communicate personal and factual information that goes beyond their immediate needs and interests, developing and justifying points of view in speech and writing, with increased spontaneity, independence and accuracy. This approach provides suitable preparation for further study.
The topics covered at Key Stage 3 range from Personal Information, Family and School in Year 7 to Food, Local area, Lifestyle, Holidays and Leisure activities in Year 8. These topics are then further built upon in Year 9 as Technology and Entertainment are covered, as well as Teenage issues and Diet. Finally Celebrations and Festivals are studied, as well as Holidays, Home and Ambitions. In terms of grammar, the present, imperfect, perfect and future tenses are covered throughout the Key Stage, in addition to many other verbal constructions, ensuring that students have a sound basis for progressing to studying a language at Key Stage 4.
Key Stage 4
Students progressing through Key Stage 4 are taught to engage with the 3 course themes:
Identity and Culture (Family and personal relationships, Technology in everyday life, Leisure activities, Customs and festivals)
Local, national, international and global areas of interest (Home, neighbourhood and region, Social issues (e.g. homelessness, charity work) Global issues (e.g. environment and poverty) Travel and tourism
Current and future study and employment (School life, jobs, careers and ambitions) and:
• use a wide-ranging vocabulary, justifying opinions and taking part in discussions building on Key Stage 3, using accurate grammar, spelling and punctuation
• identify and use tenses from Key Stage 3 and learn to recognise and use more complicated tenses e.g. conditional perfect
• use and manipulate a variety of key grammatical structures and patterns
• listen to a variety of forms of spoken language to obtain information and respond appropriately
• initiate and develop conversations, coping with unfamiliar language and unexpected responses
• express and develop ideas clearly and with increasing accuracy, both orally and in writing
• speak with increasingly accurate pronunciation and intonation
• read and show comprehension of original and adapted materials, understanding the purpose, important ideas and details of texts, and provide a short, accurate English translation
• read texts in the language [e.g. stories and letters] to develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture
• write creatively using an increasingly wide range of grammar and vocabulary at greater length to express their own ideas and opinions
• translate short written texts accurately into the foreign language
Key Stage 5
The A-level builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills gained at GCSE. It constitutes an integrated study with a focus on language, culture and society. It fosters a range of transferable skills including communication, critical thinking, research skills and creativity. The content is suitable for students who wish to progress to employment or further study, including a modern languages degree.
The focus is on how society has been shaped, socially and culturally, and how it continues to change. In year one, aspects of the social context are studied, together with aspects of the artistic life of each country. Year two focuses on issues such as life for those on the margins of society as well as looking at the positive influences that diversity brings. Students are immersed in the culture and history of the country studied and have the opportunity to undertake an Individual Research Project in an area of their own personal interest.
Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of themes relating to the culture and society of the country studied, and their language skills, by using authentic spoken and written sources in French and Spanish.
The choice of works (literary texts and films) and the Individual Research Project offers opportunities to link with the themes studied throughout the course. The film “La Haine” (Hate) and the novel “Un sac de billes” (A bag of marbles) are our current choices for French. For Spanish, the film “El laberinto del fauno” (Pan’s Labyrinth) and the book “La Casa de Bernarda Alba” (The house of Bernarda Alba) are studied.
Written exam: 35/45 minutes (Foundation/Higher)
7–9/10–12 minutes (Foundation/Higher) + preparation time
Format is the same at both Tiers, but with different stimulus questions for the Photo card and for the Role-play.
Role-play – (2 minutes Foundation and Higher)
Photo card – (2 minutes Foundation; 3 minutes Higher)
General conversation – (3–5 minutes Foundation; 5–7 minutes Higher)
Written exam: 45/60 minutes (Foundation/Higher)
Translation from/into English (minimum of 35 words for Foundation, 50 words for Higher)
Written exam: 1 hour/75 minutes (Foundation/Higher)
Variety of written tasks and short written pieces (up to 90 words with 150 words for Higher)
Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing
A variety of authentic texts, covering complex, factual and abstract content Questions target main points, gist and detail.
2 translations of at least 100 words.
50% of A-level
Paper 2 Writing
One text and one film or two texts
Written exam: 2 hours
20% of A-level
Paper 3 Speaking
Individual research project
One of four themes
Oral exam: 21–23 minutes (including 5 minutes preparation)
30% of A-level
Discussion of a sub-theme from a stimulus card (5–6 minutes)
Presentation (2 minutes) discussion (9–10 minutes) of individual research project
For all GCSE and A Level MFL courses taught at DCHS we use the AQA exam board.
Resources to Support Learning
The Department has been equipped with 2 Interactive SMARTboards this year and uses a range of other materials, both digital and paper based, to offer specific support to students as required. This may take the form of extra one-to-one sessions or extra written work with the support of vocabulary/grammar guides. We also subscribe to the online version of our textbooks at Key Stage 4 so students can work independently, as well as Linguascope, a popular MFL website which again students can access from home. In addition, we provide students with extra study and revision material from CGP at cost price.
Studying a Modern Foreign Language leads directly into an amazing number of careers, simply because you are able to adapt your language skills to use in whatever job you choose! As a result, this opens the door to jobs all around the world in many in a wide number of careers ares. Indeed, many linguists travel around the world as they work as a freelancer, combining work and leisure, or indeed work for themselves.
We teach the topics of careers and employment at Key Stage 3 and 4, drawing special attention to some of our local ambassadors from DCHS, Lucy Bronze and Lucy Weightman, both of whom have used language skills honed here abroad.
At DCHS we have an annual visit from Sunderland University to speak to students in Key Stage 4 and 5, which is designed to blow away the myths about careers using languages e.g.
• Did you know that many workers in their 20’s and 30’s are now having to learn a language for their work because so few English people now have any grasp of a language other than English?
• Did you know that the average annual difference in salary for 2 people doing the same job but with one person having a language (any language!) is £5000?
• Did you know that the UK loses £48 billion pounds of business annually due to not having enough speakers of other languages?
• No neither did we!
So potentially, some of the following areas of employment may be of interest to you, especially when you realise you can do them anywhere on the planet!
Tourism and many more!
Mrs C. Brown
Miss A. Guillen
Mrs I. Santamarina
Mrs S. Dixon
Mr A. Hall