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Progression and assessment in MFL at Key Stage 2 is too disjointed Assessing pupil progression in MFL at KS2 is daunting for non‑specialists and the wide variation of achievement is creating a disjointed MFL transition from primary to secondary school Skill expectations The National Curriculum Programme of Study states that teaching a foreign language “should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language.” The Programme of Study goes on to identify key skill areas that pupils need to develop in Modern Foreign Language (MFL). However, progression at KS2 may look different for teachers that are non-specialists in MFL to those who are specialists or have a high level of competence with the target language. For some, being able to count to twenty, say all the basic colours in Spanish or name 10 animals in French may be a milestone achievement. For others, writing three paragraphs about family and home may be an achievable expectation for Year 6. The skill outcomes are not clearly defined in the Programme of Study for each year group, but rather it sets out a general expectation for the end of Key Stage 2. Not only does it leave non-specialist teachers of MFL in a quandary over what language structures to actually teach, but also to what level. As discussed in last month’s issue of Education Business, this also assumes that the non-specialist teacher is confident at teaching the target language in the first place. Then, of course, there is the question of assessment, which should reflect the degree of pupil progression with the target language. If teachers are using a good scheme of work then all these issues should, of course, be sorted. However, many primary schools rely heavily on language apps and online resources to do the job of assessment for them, as they do not always have the experience to clarify the outcomes themselves.


How to assess To truly assess pupil progression in MFL, the teacher needs to be able to answer these basic questions: What is the specific language skill? How much of the language skill can the pupil achieve? How does the pupil achieve the skill? How well does the pupil achieve the skill? How often does the pupil achieve the skill? and How else does the pupil demonstrate the skill? Language Magnet provides a scheme of work for KS2 that enables teachers to answer each of these questions easily. By using specially designed self‑assessment trackers, pupils are able to identify and evidence the actual language structures that they have learned and how much support they have needed. The pupil trackers are then combined with the assessment criteria for listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, which have been specifically designed for easy reference by non-specialists. Using this combination of assessing, both language structures and skills, KS2 teachers are able to confidently establish a very accurate and robust assessment of each pupil’s attainment and progression in MFL. Since the Language Magnet modules recycle and extend language structures from previous modules, pupils are able to develop their creativity by substituting new vocabulary or phrases to develop their own ideas, and teachers can quickly see how much language has been retained and reused. Both the pupil trackers and the assessment criteria reflect this progression of the language structures and skills, so teachers can be confident that pupils are progressing steadily in foreign language and are not simply increasing their vocabulary

and phrase knowledge in a disjointed fashion or without any application. Real progression A primary school in Nottingham, that had been using the Language Magnet Scheme of Work for just three months at the time of their Ofsted inspection, received a report that commented, “In subjects other than reading, writing and mathematics, the best progress is made in PE and Modern Foreign Languages.” It is precisely because Language Magnet develops and builds on the language structures throughout the modules that teachers do not fall into the trap of defaulting to familiar topics, which limits pupil progress. The support that is provided for non-specialists in MFL throughout the course, from detailed lesson plans, full audio support, language structure explanations, grammar colour coding to personal coaching, is invaluable, enabling teachers to move beyond their default levels of foreign language delivery. It was not surprising then that one teacher from this primary school in Nottingham stated unashamedly “I hated teaching French before I used Language Magnet!” This self‑confessed “complete beginner” in MFL is now teaching and assessing French confidently, is creating an exemplary bilingual environment naturally, and has a class of pupils that absolutely love their language lessons. As for assessment, both the teacher and her pupils are making outstanding progress in MFL. L FURTHER INFORMATION 079 6335 5505