Contacting the department
If you have any questions or concerns about your child, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the MFL department by leaving a message with Reception or by emailing our enquiry address.
We aim to respond to phone calls and emails as quickly as possible, and certainly within 48 hours. Please bear in mind that members of staff may have a day of teaching and may not be able to respond to non-urgent matters until the end of the Academy day or the following Academy day.
By telephone: 0121-464 2737 (main school switchboard)
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
At Harborne Academy, we believe that the study of a foreign language not only provides our pupils with useful transferrable skills which are fast becoming essential in a modern and highly competitive world, but it also gives them a liberating and life-enhancing experience, which adds breadth to their cultural, social and linguistic knowledge and skills.
At Harborne Academy French is taught from Year 7 up to GCSE and Spanish is currently taught in KS3. Students are introduced to both languages in Year 7 and at the end of that year, students can make the choice between the two languages to carry on with in Year 8 and beyond.
KS3 French and Spanish
In KS3, pupils will develop key skills and the linguistic knowledge which will set them up for success in tackling the challenges of GCSE languages. Throughout their second and third years of study, students will further enhance their linguistic skills in topics linked closely to the GCSE course, giving a solid foundation for further study.
Year 7 – Discovery of languages
Students begin their language learning journey by delving into an introduction to the French language, including learning about Francophone culture. Students will then spend three half terms completing the same language skills in Spanish before choosing which language to continue into year 8.
In Year 7, students study the following themes in Spanish (September to February half term) and then in French (February half term to July).
- Welcome to France/Spain
- All about me
During the summer term, students in Year 7 are required to choose whether they wish to continue learning French or Spanish for Years 8 and 9, and potentially further into GCSE in Years 10 and 11. Students are given guidance on what to think about when making this choice, such as future career aspirations as well as ambitions arising from personal interests.
Y8 – Foundational language
Having chosen their language of study, students continue their studies to build a strong foundation of knowledge to begin the journey of becoming conversational in the language.
In Year 8, students study the following themes in French or Spanish:
- All around me
- Sport, leisure and food
- Festivals and special events
- Family and relationships
Y9 – Emergent language
Having built a foundation of linguistic knowledge during Year 8, throughout Year 9 students develop their emerging linguistic skills, demonstrating their increasing ability to adapt and manipulate language to communicate what is required.
In Year 9, students study the following themes in French or Spanish:
- Personal interests
- School life and careers
- Healthy living
- Where I live
- Technology and social media
- Travel and tourism
Our KS3 curriculum aims to provide students with the knowledge required to underpin the demands of the GCSE course at KS4 whilst also appealing to the desire to be able to communicate effectively in the target language. Our curriculum takes every opportunity to provide students with the transactional language they might need in various situations when communicating with French/Spanish speakers as well as highlighting the benefits and opportunities that languages can bring to future study and career paths.
KS4 French and Spanish – Developing linguists
Languages are a popular options subject at Harborne Academy that provide students the opportunity to foster a deeper understanding of the language and culture across the French- and Spanish-speaking world. The GCSE course is broken into three key themes, which are taught over the course of the two years to allow students to apply their growing grammatical understanding and vocabulary knowledge in a systematic and progressive way. The themes and the topics studied within them are as follows:
- Identity and culture
- Me, my family and friends
- Technology in everyday life
- Free time activities
- Customs and festivals in the French-speaking world
- Global, national, international and global areas of interest
- Home, town, neighbourhood and region
- Social issues
- Global issues
- Travel and tourism
- Current and future study and employment
- My studies
- Life at school/college
- Education post-16
- Jobs, career choices and ambitions
Topics and themed are studied in the following order:
We follow the AQA GCSE 9-1 specification in languages. For further information about the GCSE courses, please follow the links below:
There are 4 papers for GCSE French and Spanish, each focusing on one of the four key languages skills.
- Listening (25%)
- Speaking (25%)
- Reading (25%)
- Writing (25%)
Pupils will be entered at either foundation or higher tier for all four skills. All four exams are sat at the end of the course in Year 11.
Languages are widely considered a key skill in the current labour market, lending themselves to almost any career. The communication and other transferrable skills learned during language acquisition can be used to gain careers in global companies in any sector. There has never been as much need to gain these skills that give an edge as there is today in the current competitive labour market. Please follow this link to see the wide range of potential career paths for language learners and advice on how to enter those professions: Jobs that use Modern Foreign Languages
We have recently been involved in the European Day of Languages that was a wonderful event celebrating the importance of different languages and cultures in today’s world. Students took place in inter-form competitions, individual quizzes and the incredible cultural dress. We also look at celebrations from around the world, such as Day of the Dead in November and Mardi Gras!
We celebrate traditions of French and Spanish speaking countries throughout the year, such as the French Fête de la Musique in June and the Mexican Día de los Muertos in November. We also arrange a series of activities for European Day of Languages on September 26th each year to highlight and celebrate the wide range of languages spoken within our school community. It is important to us to honour the various cultural values and traditions held by our pupils and their families.
Furthermore, we promote activities and competitions run by Routes into Languages West Midlands that encourage our students to demonstrate their linguistic ability both locally and nationally.
In languages, students are provided the opportunity to enter GCSEs in their home language, on the proviso that they are competent in reading and writing. Full support is provided to prepare for the exams.
Links have been developed with the Languages departments at both Aston University and the University of Birmingham and we aim to provide opportunities for students to gain insight into languages at further study as well as the place of languages in modern society.
We endeavour to organise a range of trips for students at various points during the school year, including cinema trips to view a French or Spanish language film, restaurant experiences and, where possible, residential trips to France and Spain.
Useful online resources to extend classroom learning
A vocabulary learning platform that teaches and tests vocabulary based on a wide variety of topics, themes and grammar. An account needs to be created, but the platform is free to use.
A comprehensive resource that presents vocabulary and grammar to help students consolidate their understanding of what they are learning in lessons.
A platform that allows students to practise what they have learned in class through a range of fun activities and games. Login details are available from the staff in the department.
ZUT - Language Skills
A platform that provides students the opportunity to reinforce and extend their knowledge in French linked to what they are learning in class. Free to use 4pm to 9am on weekdays and all weekend.
OYE - Language Skills
A platform that provides students the opportunity to reinforce and extend their knowledge in Spanish linked to what they are learning in class. Free to use 4pm to 9am on weekdays and all weekend.
Online vocabulary and grammar tasks to support classroom learning. Particularly useful if students have missed a lesson for any reason.
For GCSE exam past papers