In September 2014, the DFE announced a new grant fund of £1.8 million for a series of teacher-led training programmes to help support the teaching of foreign languages across Key Stages 2 and 3. Designed to support teachers to introduce the new programmes of study, nine projects across England received funding to support teachers with the elements of the new curriculum. For further information on the background to this funding, please visit the DFE website. Each project approached the support offered differently dependent on the individual context and need in their area of the country. Some projects focused on CPD and delivering training whilst other projects delivered training as well as creating teaching and learning resources.
ALL Connect was ALL’s CPD programme for teachers of languages at KS2 and KS3 which ran from September 2014 to July 2016. Originally designed as a taught programme across numerous themed modules, ALL Connect was written by teachers for teachers, to be delivered in a number of local areas. The material for the modules was written originally to be delivered by trainers to an audience of teachers with the follow-up modules always intended to be self-directed with the understanding that a teacher attended the training. As a lasting and living legacy, there are now two versions of each of the ALL Connect modules – the first which continues to be aimed at trainers, and the second intended for self-directed use by individual teachers. Tangible resources for the classroom can also be extracted from the modules. One of the additional legacies of the ALL Connect initiative is the themed wikis which were developed to sit alongside themed modules. The wikis are freely available and are designed as a living repository of materials that teachers have used as part of ALL Connect or as part of their work in school.
As part of a broader commitment to the DFE (as part of the ALL Connect project), and in order to promote all of the excellent work that has taken place over the last two years, ALL has committed to clustering information on the other DFE-funded projects within the ALL website (where this exists in the public domain). For further information on the individual projects, please follow the links below. You can explore some of the major themes at KS2 and KS3 developed across the DFE-funded projects in our Themed Resources page. We also aim to produce a number of ‘resource reviews’ written by teachers which will assist fellow teachers to navigate the various projects, and which highlight the variety of material on offer across similar themes.
Written by teachers to assist fellow teachers to navigate the various projects, the resource reviews highlight the variety of resources created by the various projects along some common themes.
Clare Seccombe, Languages Teacher and Independent Consultant, explored the ALL Connect Progression Module and noted it sets out to explain to teachers the level that learners should reach by the end of Year 6. It goes on to look at how skills can be built up from the Year 3 beginner level to the “substantial progress” required at the end of the Key Stage. Examples are given in French, Spanish and German, and often the same topic area, such as weather or clothes, is used to exemplify progression in all four year groups, to make the progress clear. Links are made and ideas given that teachers will be able to take away and use to enrich their own lessons. Video clips are provided to illustrate some of the points made.
The presentation discusses the children’s “language tool box”, the things that they could have with them in the classroom to enable them to progress and to become more independent and self-sufficient learners. This will be useful to non-specialist teachers who may be wondering what resources they could have in their classroom to facilitate the children’s learning. Access to a bilingual dictionary, for example, enables learners to broaden their vocabulary, helps them to say what they want to say, and of course is a lifelong learning skill that they can take into Key Stage 3 and beyond. The follow-up, self-study activities, take teachers through a range of teaching activities which can be used in the classroom. All accompanying resources are provided in French, Spanish and German.
Vicky Cavill, KS2 Languages Co-ordinator and SLE at George Spencer Academy noted how easy it was to navigate to the KS2 Progression area. In just one click, you are taken to a concise summary of the materials and support available. There is helpful advice on the target audience of the resources as well as suggestions as to the amount of time needed to familiarise yourself with them. The blog clearly marks out which Power Point presentations are destined for teachers wishing to lead training and those preferring to access them for self-study purposes. The content of the presentation is well-pitched to reach a wide-ranging audience. Teachers are guided through what effective progression looks like and how this can be achieved and evidenced. A particular strength of the resource is the relevant and frequent links made to the KS2 Programme of Study as well as the KS2 Framework for Languages. This will allow teachers, particularly those just embarking on teaching primary languages, to engage confidently and creatively. Equally, teachers are given the opportunity to reflect upon and potentially improve their practice. Another highlight is the exploration of the use of authentic materials to make themes as engaging as possible.
Leicester’s Ensemble Languages Project also has a unit about progression through Key Stage 2 into Key Stage 3. Vicky Cavill noted its strength as a resource, clearly produced by teachers for teachers to help them navigate the new KS2 Programme of Study and the new era of ‘life after levels’ at KS3. It is clearly set out and suitable for teachers both old and new to primary languages, providing easy-to-follow, yet rigorous guidance on how to demonstrate age-appropriate progress. As the new Programmes of Study state where pupils are expected to be at the end of a Key Stage, this set of resources is particularly helpful in exemplifying the steps needed along the way. It is intended to be used with any language and any scheme of learning. The resources provide an invaluable reference source for teachers’ planning, assessment and reporting to others. Worthy of particular mention is the section relating to Ideas for Progression which provides a bountiful supply of suggestions which can be taken straight into the classroom. Impressively pertinent guidance for KS3 staff who are still unclear of what a new Year 7 language learner may look like is also provided. This could readily ensure a successful continuation of the language learning journey if followed.
Clare Seccombe notes that of particular use and interest to teachers will be the overview of grammatical progression through Key Stage 2, where they will find a breakdown of the grammar that children in each year group should be expected to know, and what this means that they will be able to do on arrival in the following year group. There are some helpful teaching and learning examples given to enable teachers to achieve this with their classes. This grammatical progression overview is expanded upon in a separate document, which looks at listening, speaking, reading, writing and phonics. It gives objectives for each year group and teaching and learning activities that teachers can use in order to achieve them. The document also has useful advice and activities for assessing this work.
KS2 Phonics and Phonology
In 2014, The Ensemble Project (LeTS Teaching School, along with 5 other TSAs), secured funding from the DFE as part of a fund to help support the teaching of foreign languages. As part of this funding, a phonics scheme of work was created to enable non-specialist teachers in primary schools to deliver phonics systematically and progressively through song, stories and rhymes. Each sound builds on the previous knowledge, so no sound is used until it has been introduced. There are 25 sounds in all, with a PowerPoint to introduce the sound, and accompanying games, stories, songs, rhymes, tongue twisters and other activities. Each sound and each new word is read aloud by a native speaker, so for a non-specialist it is easy to deliver. Also included are display resources for the classroom, flashcards and teacher guidelines on how to use the resources.
The MFL faculty at Rushey Mead Academy initially trialled the phonics schemes of work with their year 7 classes, introducing a new sound every week during the year, and as it was so successful it is now an integral part of their KS3 curriculum. They also continue to reinforce the sounds with year 8 and year 9, and in KS4 students are still reminded of the ‘Phonic Friends’. The faculty are unanimous in their feedback that teaching phonics in this way has been a great success, and the students enjoy learning each new sound. It has enabled the faculty to introduce authentic texts and literature into the curriculum, and it has improved writing and speaking skills.
“This is the best scheme of work for phonics as it is so well thought through and methodical. The pedagogy is both brilliant and unique in the way sounds are built upon. It is also so easy to use and follow with fantastic and engaging resources to accompany. All the hard work has been done for us.”
“The phonics scheme has had a huge impact on students working out the pronunciation of new words. They are able to break down words and work out sounds with the display as a guide.”
All of the Ensemble Project phonics resources are available within the Primary Language Teaching and Learning Resources area of the project website.
KS3 Spontaneous Speaking
Several developments in recent years have put a spotlight on speaking, including the Ofsted report ‘The Changing Landscape’, the new secondary curriculum, the renewed framework and the new GCSE exam. Success in the new linear GCSEs will depend on learners developing the skill to express themselves spontaneously, drawing on language learnt over several years rather than relying on pre-written memorised text which they then reproduce in controlled assessment situations.
The Professional Development Consortium in Modern Foreign Languages (PDC in MFL) gives teachers access to eight key principles of teaching and learning languages, which are based on research evidence. The Consortium was set up by researchers at the University of Reading Institute of Education and University of Oxford Department of Education and is made up of classroom language teachers, teacher trainers and researchers in England. The consortium website contains a wealth of resources, including planning tools and videos of classroom observations. The pages on Oral Interaction in particular will be of interest to teachers looking for tried and tested approaches which promote the development of speaking skills in their classrooms. The approach is based on four principles which are outlined at the start and then illustrated with practical examples and in video clips. A variety of approaches and strategies are demonstrated, all of which aiming at the development of oral fluency and spontaneous spoken exchanges.
Particularly useful will be the resources which encourage teachers to record and monitor the oral interaction in their classroom, as doing so will not only develop students’ use of the target language but also raise teachers’ awareness of their own strategies in promoting spontaneous “free” speech. The section on Teaching Communication Strategies is particularly interesting in this context.
The video clips are probably the most valuable resource developed by this project as they show how teachers in real classroom situations develop speaking skills. The clips on developing the sound-spelling link are probably intended for Key Stage 2 but would be just as useful for a class of beginners in a secondary school. Further videos illustrate “Strategies for communication”, “Developing spontaneous classroom language” and “Producing extended spoken answers”, all of which will prove invaluable for teachers seeking to move the development of speaking skills forward.
The ALL Connect project provided CPD for teachers and is now available as free self-study resources which can be accessed online. Like all modules in the project, the Key Stage 3 Spontaneous Speaking module contains a PowerPoint presentation with accompanying notes which can be used by curriculum leaders for CPD with their departments or by groups of schools for joint training. The self-access notes are also suitable for individual teachers wanting to use the training materials independently. Following this, teacher participants can undertake independent study by accessing four follow up modules.
The presentation starts with an overview of curriculum requirements and a discussion of the issues around teaching speaking skills in real classrooms, and then moves on to practical strategies and examples of good practice. There is a wealth of practical ideas, some of which can be implemented straight away, others requiring longer term planning, and all with the potential of making a real difference in how the target language is used by students both in the everyday classroom as well as in an exam situation. Particularly useful are the planning tools which will help to map the various strands of speaking (e.g. classroom language, expressing opinions, asking questions etc) over the key stage, thus ensuring progression and consistency. These are essential for the development of speaking skills, but also most difficult to achieve in a busy classroom situation with so many different demands on the teacher and the teaching time available. The ALL Speaking Wiki also features further resources which were generously contributed by UK language teachers. The wiki is free to access and more contributions are welcome!
Eva Lamb, MFL Teacher i.c. Curriculum Development, King Edward VII School, Sheffield.
The DfE has supported a number of projects set up to support the introduction of the new curriculum in MFL across KS3 and KS4. This review focuses on three of these projects and what they offer teachers thinking about Transition from KS2 to KS3.
The University of Reading website has resources from previous CPD events and on-going research. These can be used for your own CPD, either within your school or by forming or joining a cluster. The consortium also offers support to carry out your own action research project. The presentations from CPD events look at Transition in a much wider sense than simply transferring information at the end of Year 6. Their research looks at the experience and progress of pupils as they move from KS2 teaching into the secondary school. It examines the impact of different teaching styles, looking in depth at literacy and oral focus and pupils’ long-term progression. It alerts secondary teachers to the dangers of starting again in Year 7 rather than building on and valuing pupils’ previous learning. It considers the issues of repeated topics, development of skills, linguistic knowledge and attitudes. The conclusion is that Transition is a question of joined up thinking between primary and secondary teachers to ensure a coherent and motivating learning experience for pupils.
The Ensemble Languages Project website has case studies where teachers from KS2 and KS3 observe each other. The teachers record the impact on their own teaching in the areas of Target Language use, phonics and earlier construction of sentences. The examples are illuminating in themselves, but also inspire us to make contact with our own corresponding primary/secondary Schools to face up to the way we need to construct appropriate learning experiences for pupils. The materials also explore the implications for our teaching in terms of pupil maturity, prior experience and progression.
The ALL Connect website contains the material from CPD sessions on Transition delivered as part of the ALL Connect project, and includes a version aimed at trainers as well as a version intended for self-directed use by individual teachers. In addition, there is the ALL Connect Transition Toolkit which is a practical, useful guide containing a set of ‘tools’ (ideas, strategies and resources), designed to inform the process of Transition. This in turn refers users to materials on the ALL wiki sites where teachers upload useful practical resources. As with the University of Reading and Ensemble Languages projects, these resources are focused on the overall learning experience. They offer classroom resources that focus on building the underlying skills of phonics, memorisation and sentence building. There are suggestions for different approaches to Year 7 which avoid repeating topics and content.
As the rationale of the ALL Connect Transition Toolkit says, “Joining up KS2 and KS3 is arguably the most important piece of work that many of us will do in our careers over the next decade.” All three of these projects will inspire you to do just this, and show you practical ways to make it happen.
Vincent Everett, Head of Languages, Northgate High School.
Grammar is sometimes considered to be ‘the glue that holds language together’, and indeed the Key Stage 3 Programme of Study makes it explicit that a knowledge of appropriate grammar is the essential foundation for students to acquire and develop linguistic competence. The Programme of Study further outlines the requirements for what pupils should be taught, such as the use of tenses and the use of voice and mood. Although a study of grammar is actually nothing new, the move from controlled assessment to final exam at GCSE accompanied by a greater emphasis on the ability to manipulate the key structures of the language being studied, means that it has now assumed greater importance, with the foundations being laid at Key Stages 2 and 3.
The ALL Connect Grammar module aims to enable teachers to think about how they can teach grammar effectively. It focuses on the issues facing them as they prepare to teach grammar to their students such as the rationale for doing so, the stages through which students pass as they learn the grammar of a language, how grammar can be applied to teaching and learning, and finally the use of the target language in teaching grammar. It invites teachers to consider different approaches to teaching and practising grammar and there are some practical examples, including a video Les déménageurs. This illustrates how technology can be used to introduce or drill a grammar point. When it comes to the target language the module identifies some simple key words that can be used in the target language to develop students’ awareness of how the language works, such ‘add….’, ‘remove…’, ‘move…’ etc. The module is accompanied by follow up materials, one of which relates to a dictation or transcription activity based on a traditional children’s song. There is also a follow up activity in which teachers are invited to reflect on issues involved when incorporating dictionary activities into their schemes of work.
The problem of incorrect dictionary use is highlighted in The University of Reading’s research based presentation on Grammar and Writing. The presentation provides some food for thought on the relationship between grammar and writing, and dares to suggest that the ‘obsession with written accuracy is stopping the learners from developing the rules and patterns of the foreign language’ particularly in the early stages when learners are beginning to notice the differences between the target language and their mother tongue but have not fully internalised the procedures involved. They further advocate the implicit teaching of grammar rules and outline some approaches to writing which are focused on strategies.
The training modules on the ALL connect blog and the resources on the PDC in MFL University of Reading blog are all aimed at teachers, are open access and seek to enable teachers to become reflective practitioners. The ALL Grammar wiki however, provides specific resources for the three major languages French, Spanish and German, including display charts and activities to introduce or practise specific grammar points. Teachers are encouraged to contribute further resources to the Wiki as they help their students navigate their way through the grammar of the language they are learning.
Liz Fotheringham, Independent consultant and freelance trainer/author