Throughout the presentations and workshops, I liked the fact that our subject was referred to as “Languages” although there are still many references to “MFL” in a lot of official documents. I still think that LOTE, Languages Other Than English, the acronym used in Australia is far more inclusive than our old “MFL”. I think “Languages” is a better alternative as it also includes “community languages” without discriminating or showing some kind of priority order. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to raise the linguistic self-esteem of many of our bilingual students…
At the Liverpool Briefing I attended, two main approaches were presented:
The “inside” approach:
· Building PLTS (Personal Learning and Thinking Skills) and other cross-curricular dimensions into planning
· Making connections with other subjects
· Exploring alternative ways of organising learning e.g. intensive learning, block of lessons, every student to visit a foreign country by the end of KS3…
The “outside” approach:
· Co-delivering activities with other subjects
· Ensuring an input from languages in all new initiatives
· Taking the lead on a dimension or skill
· Establishing a Unique Selling Point (USP) for languages within the whole school e.g. global dimension, identity & cultural diversity, thinking skills, creativity, work-related learning
The briefing then tried to refocus on practical auditing and target-setting in order to move things forward:
· What are we trying to achieve?
· How do we organise learning?
· How well are we achieving our aims?
The opportunities were highlighted as:
· Be creative
· Revitalise/ raise the profile of languages
· Increase motivation and uptake at KS4
· Get away from topic-based learning
· Promote the relevance of languages
· Use cross-curricular approaches as a way to develop transferable skills.
There were also a few concerns:
· Time to deliver and plan
· Impact on KS4
· Quality of skills and knowledge needed to cross-curricular delivery
The delegates were provided with a toolkit to organise the plans ahead and the materials were extremely useful to clarify the situation and highlight possible next steps in planning for the changes.
I was also very interested to see how cross-curricular and other approaches to avoid word level work in Year 7 could be used as a way to ease transition issues at the beginning of KS2 and avoid de-motivation in students who have had substantial exposure to a language at KS2 . All the materials given to delegates are to be found here and the case studies and ideas by Lynne West and Martine Pillette are very relevant to what I feel should be our priority in the short and medium term.