Tuesday 14 November 2017

MFL in 2017


Anna Vaughan
Head of International Primary Curriculum and Education Lead

Anna Qa Fol
There was a sense of urgency conveyed by many speakers at the Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Conference held in London on the 5th October.

The opening address by Dr Anna Lise Gorden, President of ALL (Association for Language Learning) identified a number of needs for successful language teaching in schools; 

  1. A need to teach MFL with breadth (e.g. phonics in every lesson at primary) and in a cross curricula manner (e.g. learning facts about the solar system in Spanish).
  2. A need for language teaching to include cultural awareness and a respect for cultural diversity.
  3. A need to have the status raised of MFL within schools, for it to have staff training time and an expectation of place within planning and assessment policies.
  4. The need for primary to prepare students for secondary and for secondary to find out the work that primaries have done.
  5. A need for teacher training institutions to recruit greater numbers of language specialist teachers.

One speaker, a language specialist from a primary school spoke of her aspirational aim that at a national level, an understanding was developed of the value of other languages, and more importantly, cultures.

The British Chamber of Commerce was mentioned in the keynote by Ian Bauckham (Chair of the 2016 Review of MFL Pedagogy). They identified the economic benefit to the UK economy of being able to converse in other languages. Presumably this would be the same for other countries, though many other countries already promote another language, or two. Ian also shared the findings that developing attitudes and dispositions towards MFL was one of three aims suggested for Key Stage 2.

This idea of developing global citizens with an awareness and respect for other cultures as part of languages was great to hear. This was part of the original remit of our International Primary Curriculum (IPC) back in 2000 and has remained core to its philosophy. We are constantly reviewing, and have just written our first ever MFL Learning Goals for the IPC. We’ll be sharing more details on the two units we’ll be publishing in the New Year. Incidentally respect is one of the IPC eight Personal Learning Goals

Mfl Mother Tongue Display

We are also reviewing and developing our definition of International Mindedness to provide further guidance for schools. International Learning Goals are a part of developing International Mindedness in students. Along with the IPC subject learning goals and Personal Learning Goals, they have always been the backbone of IPC units, and the starting point when new units are written However, the goals were written over 15 years ago, and while many IPC schools embed and link International Mindedness throughout learning, we want to make it easier for all teachers to do so.

Returning to the title of this post, it becomes increasingly relevant to explicitly teach about respect of each other and of cultures. If the inclusion of MFL into a primary curriculum can help to realise this goal, then I think this will be a great success for students, teachers and indeed the country. A last thought, we have decided not to call our new language learning goals, MFL – both the M, Modern and the F, Foreign - seem unhelpful in a description. World languages is more in line with International Mindedness.  Look out for more information on our World Languages Goals and units very soon!

Find out more about our Learning Goals here