Elaine Taylor gave a very thorough update of the situation of languages in school from an OFSTED perspective.
50 schools were inspected for last report. All schools had some language provision of some kind.
Many examples of good practice were observed including the following:
Students were observed developing their reading and writing skills-single words and copywriting skills at sentence level.
Students were given some opportunities to be creative and use their reference skills.
Students were taught to use text to support speaking and used familiar stories to develop both their speaking and writing skills.
Display was used in a very imaginative way to support the learning of languages eg what can be done in the local park. The display was often actively used by students as reference material.
ICT Software was used to encourage creativity eg. Comic life software to encourage writing through designing comic strips in the foreign language although there were sometimes issues to consolidate skills due to a lack of time dedicated to languages.
A wide range of resources was used integrating the many topics taught in primary schools e.g. Recipes, ww2, cartoons …
Many schools had applied for the International School Award, which meant that there was often a clear focus on developing students’ cultural awareness for enrichment and extra-curricular activities. ICT was used to research festivals and display authentic materials.
Initiatives like international days or weeks/ language of the month were very popular with students and real opportunities to widen students’ horizons.
Cross curricular projects in primary schools were developed in a natural way e.g. Christopher Columbus and origin of Spanish in America with Intercultural Understanding built into lessons from the start.
Lessons observed were at Ks3 and ks4 mostly as there are very few opportunities to observe ks5 lessons.
There was a very mixed picture about Target-Language use and often a need for an agreed Faculty policy. When Target-Language use was good, it was explicitly planned for and expected to be used by all members of staff. However, general expectations of Target-Language use by students were still too low.
Good use of Interactive White Board was observed as well as motivating use of microphones and mobile phones.
Some successful activities were observed to encourage spontaneous talk with dice to support choice of activities.
Text was used well to support speaking when there was a strong emphasis on the sound/ spelling link but students were seen to be too over-reliant on text for their speaking.
There was also some good use of video clips to engage students including the use of authentic materials like songs. There was generally a good use of the Internet to support the development of Intercultural Understanding as well as effective support from members of the community and Foreign Language Assistants.
An example of a successful activity was a search for a school website in the target language country. Students had then to introduce that school to other students in the class in the target language.
Commercials on drug/ alcohol abuse were also used successfully and adapted in the target language (subtitling or dubbing)
Cross-curricular projects were an effective way to motivate students e.g. Linguavision: phonics and music y7-13 with feeder primaries and partner schools voting for the best performance.
Good language lessons encouraged students to work collaboratively.
There were some issues building on the work done at primary due to the uncertain future of Primary MFL and the high number of different feeder primary students received by some secondary schools.
The key approach was to " revisit not repeat" but this was often hindered by a lack of specific data passed on to the secondary MFL teachers.
Examples of reports from subject visits are now available on the OFSTED website in the “Our Expert knowledge” section. There is also a link to useful references such as the subject specific grade descriptors. Some guidance for non-specialists observing MFL lesson will also be uploaded in the very near future.