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Modern Foreign Languages

The MFL department consists of 4 teachers:

Mrs J. Edwards - Head of Department;
Mrs V. Grego - Second in Department;
Ms L. Owen - Teacher of French, Director of Teaching and Learning;
Mr G. Toms - Teacher of French and Spanish

All teachers have a Modern Foreign Languages degree.

The principal language taught at Holyhead is French, although some students do take a GCSE in their mother tongue. From September 2014, some Year 7 students will have the opportunity to learn Spanish as well.

“You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you only know one language, you only live once,” Czech proverb.

We encourage our students to see that learning another language is a natural phenomenon, as so many students already speak at least 2 languages at Holyhead. We want our students to become much more aware of how they do this and to direct and develop their expertise at language learning. Communicating with others, even at a very simple level can open a door to many new opportunities. We want our students to gain in confidence as they learn and not be afraid of taking risks.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my universe,” Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian philosopher.

French is widely spoken throughout the business world and is spoken on all 5 continents. With France as Britain’s closest neighbour, French is an obvious choice to learn. French and English have much in common historically and students will see just how much as they learn, over time. We have wanted to diversify the languages we teach for a while now, and it is exciting that we have now introduced Spanish to some Year 7 students from September 2014.

Teachers encourage students to have a go at speaking in French (and Spanish) right from the very start of Year 7. The more often students participate, the more they will improve and gain in satisfaction and confidence.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart,” Nelson Mandela.


Key Stage 3

In Year 7, students spend the first half term learning the skills which they will need to use in order to make progress in their learning of a new language. Such skills include how to use a bi-lingual dictionary, how to ‘learn’ new vocabulary, how to communicate verbally and non-verbally and how to pronounce and read new words using French/Spanish phonics.

In Year 7 students of French will learn how to describe people through a topic on ‘spies and villains’, learn about Francophone countries and their cultures and customs, learn about how to describe a daily routine through a topic on my superhero’s routine and finally learn about hobbies and sports. Within these topics students will start to grasp French grammar by learning how to use the present tense and the future tense. They will also learn how to give positive and negative opinions and how to extend their writing.

In Year 8, students will continually build on their previous knowledge from Year 7. They will complete modules on places in a town, food, school, technology, hotels and holidays and films. Within these modules, they will revise the present and future tense as well as being introduced to the past tense. They will understand and communicate information, developing and justifying points of view, with increased spontaneity, independence and accuracy and be ready for further study at KS4.

All classes are given homework on a weekly basis which will be recorded in their Passport to Learning.

Students will have the opportunity during KS3 to go on a trip to France.

Key Stage 4

Students taking a GCSE in French will be building upon what they learnt in KS3, as well as learning new material and developing their competency in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. In Year 9, students will study French for 2 hours per week, which then rises to 3 hours in Years 10 and 11. They will be able to work with a Foreign Language Assistant to improve their skills in speaking especially. We follow the AQA syllabus and students will take examinations in the components of Listening and Reading at the end of Year 11. They will also be assessed in Speaking and Writing, submitting 2 Controlled Assessments in each skill, which will be carried out during the 2 year course.

At the start of KS4, in Year 9, students will make the transition to GCSE style work and focus on developing their skills as well as starting to extend their knowledge and understanding of grammar more fully. They will complete a topic based on themselves, take a look at current French culture, a history topic, a geography topic and move on to look at health. At KS4 in Years 10 and 11, students will study topics based around the contexts of lifestyle, leisure, home and environment and finally work and education.

How to improve

  • Read the teacher’s comments about your work and take action where necessary
  • Refer to the level or grade descriptors in your Passport to Learning or exercise book
  • Review work frequently
  • Keep up to date with learning vocabulary
  • Ask the teacher if you do not fully understand what has been taught in the lesson
  • GCSE - use the text book to help practise exam style questions and consolidate the lessons
  • GCSE - use the assessment criteria and examination reports you are given to make sure you carry out the controlled assessments properly

How you can help your son/daughter to improve

  • The on-line resource is very useful for practising grammar, with many games to encourage competency
  • We offer a French language magazine for sale in all years. Reading one of these will help consolidate and build upon language and vocabulary learnt in class
  • Checking your child’s homework and helping them with learning vocabulary will be a great encouragement to them

French Opportunities outside the classroom

  • KS3 trip to France (annually)
  • KS4 trip to Paris (every 2 years)
  • French club for KS3 run by the French assistant (October - May)

French weblinks

Key Stage 5

Students taking an AS in French will be building upon what they learnt in KS4, as well as learning new material and developing their competency in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. They will be able to develop the structures they acquired at GCSE French, to concentrate on developing oral fluency and conversation skills, to discuss contemporary topics such as the importance of technology in a young person’s life or of fashion, to increase your knowledge of French culture while studying French adverts, singers, films etc....

We follow the AQA syllabus and students will take examinations in the components of Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Students will be able to work with a Foreign Language Assistant to improve their skills in speaking especially. At the start of KS5, students will make the transition to AS style work and focus on developing their skills as well as starting to extend their knowledge and understanding of grammar more fully.

How to improve – a guide for students

  • The on-line resource is very useful for practising grammar and verb forms (verb conjugator)
  • Read about French culture, literature, art and current affairs from online French magazines such as ‘Le Monde’