At Whitmore Park Primary School, we believe that good quality language education can help pupils to develop a curiosity for other cultures and deepen their understanding of the world. We aim to enable pupils to be able to actively participate in a multicultural and mutually respectful world. As pupils progress through school, they are taught an increasing and wider range of vocabulary and skills. At Whitmore Park we have just begun our journey into teaching Spanish in MFL, in previous years the pupils were taught German by a specialist teacher.
Spanish was decided as the language we would teach for several reasons. As our pupils mostly use languages that use a Latin alphabet, we felt they would be more comfortable learning another language that also uses the Latin alphabet. Another reason Spanish was decided upon was because we are a feeder school for secondary schools that offer Spanish. Therefore, learning Spanish will most benefit our pupils when they go onto to secondary school.
Our current skills and progress plan is part of a four-year plan. The first cohort, (year 3 2021 /22) to have gone through the 4 years of Spanish will be at end of Key Stage 2 age related expectations by the time they finish in year 6. The curriculum gives pupils the best possible start to learning Spanish through the teaching of physical phonics in year 1 of the four-year plan. By the end of the plan, pupils will have learnt how to talk, read and write about a whole range of topics; including colours, days and months of the year and how to express their opinion.
Our curriculum also has an emphasis on ‘Cultural Capital’. We want our pupils to become engrossed in the cultures of the people whose languages they study and understand the important role that learning a language has for unlocking future opportunities. Studying a foreign language opens a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and highlight the diversity we have within our school community. The context of Spanish lessons is us and our lives. Pupils discuss their own families and give opinions about things that are important to them in the target language Spanish. When we look at different festivals and celebrations in Hispanic cultures, pupils have a chance to reflect and discuss the celebrations that are important to them. All of this helps pupils enrich pupils with a better understanding of themselves and the world they are a part of.
The school’s curriculum drivers are the threaded throughout the curriculum. The use of songs, rhymes and spoken games can both engage learners and develop their oracy skills. Lessons are driven by pupils listening to new vocabulary and then trying it out for themselves. Listen to and speaking to their partners in Spanish are critical in supporting them to become more fluent and confident Spanish speakers. Vocabulary plays an important role in our MFL curriculum. By being able to communicate their ideas more succinctly, pupils will feel more confidence and have higher self-esteem. A large vocabulary helps develop other language skills. When our pupils have a wide vocabulary in Spanish, it helps to support them in the four language skills. A board vocabulary makes the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing easier to perform. Inclusion is at the heart of our curriculum. Spanish is offered to all pupils regardless of attainment levels and background.
The Key Language Skills:
End of Key Stage 2 Expectations
Pupils should be taught to
- listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
- explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
- engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help
- speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures
- develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases*
- present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences
- read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
- appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
- broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
- write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
- describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
- understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.
Students are introduced to ‘chunks’, or patterns, of language, rather than single words, so that they learn how to use words in context and develop their grammatical awareness. At the start of a new unit, sentence builders and real-life contexts for learning are shared with pupils, to help them to understand the ‘big picture’ and purpose for their learning. Sentence builders are used as scaffolds to support children in producing and structuring new language and are then gradually removed to promote fluency and spontaneity.
The Spanish curriculum is carefully planned so that language chunks are interleaved throughout KS2. Through revisiting and developing vocabulary, alongside learning new chunks, we strive to ensure students leave Whitmore Park Primary School with a secure and deep foundation in Spanish. This will help them to become a confident and successful language-learner at secondary school, whether they go on to study Spanish or a different Modern Foreign Language.
We also place a strong emphasis on phonetic awareness. This is based on evidence that learners are most able to store language in their long-term memory if they can hear how it sounds and connect this to how it looks on the page. All KS2 students start their language learning journey by learning ‘Physical Phonics’, where each sound is introduced with an action. This phonetic knowledge is then referred back to throughout their time at Whitmore Park, to help pupils become successful listeners, readers, writers, and speakers of Spanish.
Assessment is also seen as an important tool for implementing the MFL curriculum. At the end of each lesson an assessment table for each class is completed, to record children’s progress against the learning objective, note down any common misconceptions, and evaluate how the lesson went. Plans for the next lesson will be adapted according to this evaluation.
Supporting SEND pupils is also at the forefront of the MFL curriculum. They, and all learners, are supported in a variety of different ways:
- differentiation (this includes scaffolded support such as sentence builders, word banks and flashcards)
- use of visual aids
- technology (including iPads) to access resources such online dictionaries and Language Gym
- audio-lingual activities such as singing and chanting, to help learners store language in their long-term memory
- kinaesthetic activities such as ‘Physical Phonics’ and games such as ‘Simon Says’
- regular interleaving of vocabulary to reduce cognitive load
- additional adult support in class
The curriculum is enriched in a variety of ways. Class teachers will take opportunities to embed Modern Foreign Languages learning in day-to-day school life, for example taking the register in Spanish, or counting down using Spanish numbers. They will receive guidance from the subject specialist on how to do this, including useful phrases to incorporate into classroom routines. Pupils are encouraged (though not expected) to build their language-learning skills by practising Spanish at home, using the online resource www.language-gym.com. All pupils have individual log-ins, which parents are provided with, and have access to a range of carefully scaffolded Spanish language games that can stretch and challenge pupils. Home learning will be celebrated through regular rewards and inter-class competitions.
To check that the children are making good progress, the subject specialist teacher will embed formative assessment into Spanish lessons. This could be, for example, through a retrieval practice quiz, self-differentiated translation exercises, or listening games using mini whiteboards. Children will be assessed both on the language chunks that they are currently learning and on chunks learned in prior terms. This is to ensure that all children have a secure foundation of vocabulary which they will be able to retain and build on as they go forward into secondary school.
Verbal feedback will be the most common type of feedback given, as its immediate nature allows for the fastest progress. Students will be given specific praise and targets so that they have a clear understanding of what they are doing well and how they can improve further.
Following each lesson, the subject specialist will evaluate which students exceeded the learning objectives or needed additional support. Brief notes will be made in the an assessment table and referred to when planning. The codes below can be used to note down common misconceptions or successes.
Progress will be assessed more formally once a term and the data is uploaded on to the DC Pro website. This assessment will focus on a particular skill- whether speaking, listening, reading or writing, and will be tracked on a spreadsheet by the subject specialist.
Children will be assessed as either working at expectations, working towards expectations, or greater depth. Expected progress for each year group and details of what will be assessed can be found in the Whole School Skills and Knowledge.