Modern Languages Gifted & Talented

Aim

Students are taught in ability sets from Year 7 in French and in mixed ability groups in beginners’ Spanish and German in Year 9.  The more able linguists (usually in set 1 and 2 for French) are encouraged to pursue a second language at GCSE and are taught in sets.  The majority of Year 11 students take a GCSE in French and up to half continue with their second language.  The top set in French are stretched from Year 7 through the use of an academically rigorous text book (Encore Tricolore) and supplementary teacher resources.  By the time they reach GCSE the majority of the students in set 1, and often set 2 are taught beyond the requirements of the GCSE syllabus both in grammar and vocabulary.  On occasion we have entered students for GCSE in year 10, with great success. Those students who opt for Spanish or German as a second language at GCSE tend to be the more able linguists, and generally sit the higher tier paper in the subject.  We expect more than 90% of our students to attain A*-C grades in MFL. The top two sets usually achieve A*/A grades.

A good number of these top students opt for a language at AS level and almost every year there are Oxbridge students in these classes.

Identification of Gifted and Talented Students in MFL

The very nature of languages means that students who are Gifted and Talented tend to flourish in the language learning environment.  Learning a language is not just limited to conveying a message in another languages; it develops a wide range of skills which are transferable to other subjects.

Pupils who are gifted in modern foreign languages are likely to: -

  • have a strong desire to put language together by themselves
    they apply principles from what they have learned to new situations, transforming phrases and using them in a different context, often with humour
  • show creativity and imagination when using language
    they often extend the boundaries of their knowledge and work beyond what they have learned, not wishing simply to respond and imitate, but to initiate exchanges and to create new language
  • have a natural feel for languages
    they are willing to take risks and see what works, knowing instinctively what sounds right and what looks right; they are acutely and swiftly aware of the relationship between sound and spelling
  • pick up new language and structures quickly
    they may have excellent aural and oral skills and may be able to cope with rapid streams of sound and identify key words at an early stage; they may also display outstanding powers of retention, both immediately and from one lesson to the next
  • make connections and classify words and structures to help them learn more efficiently
    they are able to evaluate new language critically, recognising the grammatical function of words
  • seek solutions and ask further questions
    they may test out their theories and seek to solve linguistic problems, sometimes challenging the tasks set and trying to understand their relevance to the language-learning process
  • have an insight into their own learning style and preference
    they may say how they like to learn vocabulary or structures; they are clear about the type of tasks they like doing; they may show or display an ability to work independently, without supervision, and to make effective use of reference material
  • show an intense interest in the cultural features of the language being studied
    they may use idiom in the language itself and explore the history and the traditions of the language; some pupils may wish to share their knowledge with their peers

(QCDA)

Provisions for Gifted and Talented Students

Study days are organised on a regular basis for students of French, Spanish and German.  Phillip Allan revision days are organised for both GCSE and ‘A’ level students, and we encourage the most able students to pursue this opportunity.

There is a yearly Spanish exchange for students in Year 12 and 11, and this is primarily offered to those already studying, or considering the option of AS Spanish with a view to continuing to A2 and possibly Undergraduate level in the subject.

We often use Field days to arrange language themed activities, and recently these have involved cookery courses and cinema trips.  We encourage those studying languages at ‘A’ level to pursue these opportunities in an aim to expose them to the cultural side of languages. There is a flourishing French Film Club held on a weekly basis for sixth form students and Satellite News activities both of which generate lively discussions.

We have a FLA (Foreign Language Assistant) in French who offers assistance to the students from Year 10 to Year 13, and by the Sixth Form they are offered a lesson a week on either an individual basis or in a maximum group of three in order to practise their speaking. Students studying Spanish have speaking sessions with a native speaker and those studying German are encouraged to practice with native German students.

Students applying to study languages at Oxbridge and other universities are encouraged to make use of the reading materials available in the Library and particularly in the Department and to access the many online resources available, both the ones to which we subscribe and those which are free. Novels both in translation and in the foreign language are always available as well as extra listening materials and advice is freely given to individuals.

Also, we have 14 pupils learning a "new" language in extra-curricular time, with the help of either native speakers, teacher or self-study materials: Mandarin and Cantonese (5), Russian (1), Japanese (2), Italian (4), German (2). Two Chinese students in year 12 are acting as volunteer teachers within the programme.