Monday, 14 April 2008

New Secondary Curriculum Regional Subject Briefing for Languages, 9th April 2008, Liverpool.

My previous post on “Compelling Language Learning” described the kind of changes that could be implemented by using the increased flexibility offered by the new Programme of Study (PoS).

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.

No comments: