Anna Wynd, head of modern foreign languages at North Oxfordshire Academy (NOA), explains how the school approaches language learning through a “menu of challenge”.

In our approach to modern foreign language teaching and learning at North Oxfordshire Academy, we strive to nurture and encourage our pupils’ enthusiasm and curiosity, offering a varied menu of challenge.

Interactive games such as the “horse race” allow pupils to work in differentiated teams to solve tasks that will move their horse closer to the finish line, while allowing opportunities for self- and peer-assessment. Our KS3 homework involves a variety of interests, skills and pupil choice at different levels, such as recipes in the target language.

Preparing for the unexpected

The current MFL Programme of Study details the importance of pupils having the opportunity to read literary texts in the language (such as stories, songs, poems and letters) to stimulate ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture.

NOA’s MFL library, which includes books, DVDs and magazines, allows the MFL department to continue to support the Academy’s drive on literacy by encouraging reading for pleasure in the target language and an exploration of intercultural understanding.

In addition, the films act as an effective and enjoyable way of developing pupils’ listening skills, particularly in training them to deal with “the unexpected element” of languages – a skill required for outstanding achievement according to OFSTED. Furthermore, the longer texts have been challenging yet purposeful, and act as a great stretch for our most able language learners.

A varied menu of challenge

We also include the following in our menu of challenge for language teaching and learning:
  • A bank of authentic resources which are planned into schemes of work (maps, brochures, receipts, magazines).
  • A whole-school approach to Assessment for Learning (AfL): “Find the gap, teach the gap.” Every student has a knowledge organiser for every subject, and uses them to revise the vocabulary and grammar that is studied in each lesson for the memory platform test. Every lesson begins with a memory platform that assesses prior learning. Pupils then self-assess in green pen. The main aim for this is to improve memory recall.
  • Using sixth-form students to support Year 11 in small study groups to go through exam skills. The Year 11 cohort enjoy hearing from a peer about how they dealt with the exam, revision and stress.
  • French Club, attended by able language learners in Year 8. Activities include board games in the target language; discussion of festivals and traditions in more detail, and comparison with the UK or with the home country of the students who attend; pupil-created quizzes either on cultural facts or what they’re currently learning; listening to French songs and talking about art and artists.
This case study was originally published in the Spring 2017 edition of NACE’s Insight newsletter. To view the full newsletter, log in to our members’ site using your NACE membership details.

For more strategies to challenge your most able language learners, join North Oxfordshire Academy for NACE’s new two-part course for language teachers. Led by experienced linguist and NACE consultant Beatrice Moreau-Gray, the course will explore effective pedagogical principles and schemes of work for able language learners, in the context of challenge for all.

View the full programme.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017