Modern Foreign Languages

The MFL Department at OIEA are passionate about the teaching and learning of languages, and the importance they hold in the modern world for the future of our pupils, not just for the benefit alone of knowing a second language, but also for the wider skill set that language learning develops. Team work, independent learning, memorisation techniques, communication and interpersonal skills and a deeper understanding of how language works leads to improved confidence, independence, and resilience in those who study languages at any level.

We believe that language learning should be fun, as well as useful and relevant to the pupils we teach, and we use team activities, active learning, music, games and independent learning to develop all four skill areas: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing.

Miss K Ferns (Head of Subject)
Miss A Murphy

❝One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞ ‒ Frank Smith

Key Stage 3 Curriculum

Pupils in Year 7 will spend the first half term studying both French and German. In October, they will be asked to decide which language they prefer, and would like to continue with.

The French and German topics are run in parallel, and will cover the following in Year 7:

  • My Town
  • House and Home
  • My Family
  • My Day

Pupils will be designing their dream home, inventing an alien, and describing their school.

Alongside these topics, pupils will be taught key grammatical concepts, such as: adjectives, prepositions, connectives, intensifiers, verbs, pronouns, and tenses, which improves their understanding of language overall, and can impact upon their progress in other subjects.

The Year 8 curriculum involves more practical applications for vocabulary, and gives an understanding of how a knowledge of a Foreign Language can be enjoyable, relevant and useful. Topics studied include:

  • Shopping
  • Media
  • Holidays

Pupils will be asked to express opinions on topical issues such as social media and mobile technology, as well as learning how to complain in a restaurant, and buy train tickets at a station.

Key Stage 3 Resources

At OIEA we do not strictly follow a set text book, but we do have access to, and use:

French: Expo 1 and 2 and Allez 1 and 2

German: Echo Express 1 and 2 and Zoom 1 and 2

Pupils are also given access to all the vocabulary used in Key Stage 3 in Student Shared, and any homework or project resources are also available there, and on Show my Homework.

Key Stage 3 Homework

Vocabulary learning is integral to making good progress in MFL. Therefore, we set one learning homework per week at Key Stage 3, typically consisting of 10 words, which will be tested the following week. Set vocabulary will be available on Show my Homework, and pupils should spend around 30 minutes learning these words and their spellings, in order to embed vocabulary further as it is taught.

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

Languages at KS4 are both engaging, relevant to today’s world, and challenging. The MFL department enjoy sharing their passion for the subject and culture through teaching the specification, as there are many opportunities for discussion, comparison, and exploration. The course is challenging, but goes in-depth with how language is structured through the context of the topics, and is a good grounding for pupils considering further language study, in both foreign and English language disciplines.

We follow the AQA Specification for both French and German, and the GCSE consists of 3 main themes:

Theme 1: Identity and culture: Me, my family and friends, Marriage/partnership, Social media, Mobile technology, Music, Cinema and TV, Food and eating out, Sport, Customs and festivals in different countries/communities

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest: Social issues, Charity/voluntary work, Healthy/unhealthy living, Global issues, the environment, Poverty/homelessness, Travel and tourism

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment: Life at school/college, Education post-16, Jobs, career choices and ambitions

Students are expected to understand and provide information and opinions about these themes relating to their own experiences and those of other people, including people in countries/communities where the language is spoken.

We focus on teaching the content through five skill areas: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing and Translation. By the end of the course, pupils will be able to:

  • demonstrate general and specific understanding of different types of spoken language
  • communicate and interact effectively in speech for a variety of purposes across a range of specified contexts
  • take part in a short conversation, asking and answering questions, and exchanging opinions
  • speak spontaneously, responding to unexpected questions, points of view or situations.
  • initiate and develop conversations and discussion, producing extended sequences of speech
  • understand and respond to different types of written language
  • recognise and respond to key information, important themes and ideas in more extended written text and authentic sources, including some extracts from relevant abridged or adapted literary texts
  • translate a short passage from German/French into English.
  • communicate effectively in writing for a variety of purposes across a range of specified contexts
  • produce clear and coherent text of extended length to present facts and express ideas and opinions
  • translate sentences and short texts from English into German/French to convey key messages accurately and to apply grammatical knowledge of language and structures in context.

We structure the course to include pre and post topic vocabulary tests to show pupil progress and areas for improvement, dedicated lessons for speaking practice, writing and translation practice, and grammar lessons. Pupils also have access to Kerboodle, which contains digital versions of both Foundation and Higher level textbooks, as well as extra resources, and assessment materials. For revision purposes, we also encourage pupils to use the Memrise app, which contains all the vocabulary on the specification, and the speaking and writing revision booklet, available on Student Shared, which contains sample exam-style questions. We use two textbooks designed specifically for the AQA Specification:

The Oxford AQA Course links with Kerboodle:

and the Pearson Course, which widens the breadth of authentic resources available to GCSE students:


At the end of Year 11, pupils sit 4 exams, one in each of the skill areas. The assessment criteria is as follows:

These links give further information about the French and German GCSE courses:

Homework and Intervention at Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4, we expect students to dedicate around one hour a week to MFL homework. This will typically include 30 minutes of vocabulary learning, and a 30 minute skill-based exercise, eg: a reading worksheet, or a 90 word paragraph to write. Ample time is given to complete the work, and intervention sessions are offered 4 nights a week for those pupils who feel they need extra support with the homework, or indeed any aspect of the course. The intervention timetable is offered on a skill-related basis and is as follows:

  • Monday – Listening
  • Wednesday – Writing
  • Thursday – Speaking
  • Friday – Reading

These hour-long sessions are open to all pupils studying for a GCSE on a drop-in basis.

Useful Websites

The following are recommended for improving and continuing Language Learning:

Enrichment Opportunities

As a department, we are keen on exploring the opportunity to offer trips abroad to our pupils at Key Stage 4, where students will be able to use their languages in real-life situations and experience the culture of the country for themselves. We plan to alternate

trips to France and Germany for Year 9 and 10, so all GCSE language students can benefit from this experience.

We are also developing links with Sheffield University to showcase opportunities for further study of Languages post-GCSE. These links will enthuse and motivate pupils through a day of workshops and tutorials. We hope to offer in-school sessions to Key Stage 3 through this partnership as it develops.