Our Lady's Abingdon - Modern Foreign Languages

Modern Foreign Languages

One language sets you in a corridor for life. 
Two languages open every door along the way.”

Frank Smith


Academic Changes – September 2022

Please visit the Senior School Curriculum page via the button below for changes due to come into effect from September 2022.

Academic Changes – September 2022

Overview of the Modern Foreign Languages curriculum at OLA

At OLA, we recognise the importance and the opportunity that studying a Foreign Language opens up for students. This is why a Modern Foreign Language is on the core curriculum for all students up to GCSE Level (Year 11), and in year 9 students can opt to pick up a second language.

French and Spanish are taught mainly through the target language. Throughout, there is an emphasis on building up confidence in speaking and listening, as well as developing an understanding of the written language and grammar. Pupils are taught to produce their own French or Spanish in speaking and writing and to reflect on their work in order to develop their ability to use the language more independently.

Certain students with near-native language level may have the opportunity to develop their German language skills and gain an additional GCSE qualification in that language.  This is offered after school as a club.

Extension work is encouraged through the use of websites for language learning which the Department subscribes to and that can be used at home for further practice.  It also takes place through tasks allocated in lessons.

In Year 8, students will follow a ‘taster course’ in the other language to give them the opportunity to decide if they would like to choose it as an extra language. This course consists of one lesson a week during Michaelmas term.

The MFL department has its own teaching area. All classrooms have interactive whiteboards. In addition, two ICT rooms are available for use.  A variety of resources are used within the class to teach languages in a lively way, using a communicative approach.

The department is well resourced. Each student has the use of their own copy of the core course book that is followed for that year and is issued with a Grammar workbook to support their learning.

Years 7 to 9 Curriculum

In Year 7, students are allocated to either French or Spanish. They will continue with this initial core language up to the completion of their GCSE in Year 11. Topics taught in Years 7 to 9 include family, school, hobbies, use of technology, town and country, holidays and festivals.  All four language skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) are regularly assessed throughout the year in a variety of ways.

Students enjoying the sites on their French Exchange

Students immersing themselves into Spanish culture

Trips for Years 7 to 9

The following trips are offered as part of the course:

1. September 2019: Chateau de la Baudonniere, Normandie (France)
2. October 2020: Andalucia (Spain)


Co-curricular Activities Years 7 to 9

We are continuously exploring new ways to enhance our existing language and co-curricular activities provision. We provide activities such as:

1. Spanish/French themed events
2. Performance of a play in French or Spanish by a professional Theatre company
3. Cultural celebrations
4. After-school film club
5. Video links with Target language schools

The topics covered within the course include:

1. Theme 1: Identity and culture (family, use of technology/free time)

2. Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest (Home and local area/social issues/global issues/travel and tourism)

3. Theme 3: Current and future study and employment (School and education/post 16 studies/the world of work)

This new GCSE course puts an emphasis on being able to reuse language independently.

This course is assessed as follows:

Paper 1: Listening Written examination: 35 minutes (Foundation Tier), 45 minutes (Higher Tier) • 40 marks (Foundation Tier), 50 marks (Higher Tier) • 25% of GCSE

Paper 2: Speaking Non-examination assessment) • 7–9 minutes (Foundation Tier) + preparation time, 10–12 minutes (Higher Tier) + preparation time • 60 marks (for each of Foundation Tier and Higher Tier) • 25% of GCSE

Paper 3: Reading Written examination: 45 minutes (Foundation Tier), 1 hour (Higher Tier) • 60 marks (for each of Foundation Tier and Higher Tier) • 25% of GCSE

Paper 4: Writing Written examination: 1 hour (Foundation Tier), 1 hour 15 minutes (Higher Tier) • 50 marks at Foundation Tier and 60 marks at Higher Tier • 25% of GCSE

Trips in Years 10 and 11

The following optional trips will be part of the course:

1. September 2019: Chateau de la Baudonniere, Normandie (France)

2. October 2020: Andalucia (Spain)


Co-curricular Activities for Years 10 and 11

1. Individual sessions of speaking preparation at lunchtime

2. Languages at work talks