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The Curriculum

The Curriculum – mapping and sequencing…

The most important fact to consider when reading this post is the context of your school.

We all teach in different types of schools – comprehensive state schools, Grammar schools, independent schools, private schools, selective schools, international schools… and our students come from different socio-economic backgrounds. 

There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when mapping out and sequencing the curriculum. Our curriculum map is the collaboration of the whole department and the creation of it was supported by many discussions with colleagues from within the Trust as well (many thanks to Jill Lock for her initial ideas and guidance). These documents are working documents which are at the centre of our departmental meetings and are prone to change depending on regular reviews, experience and feedback. The document templates are used across all departments across our academy.

In my school context, our curriculum is centred around our Academy’s values of:

Empower: We are empowered with the knowledge, skills and habits necessary to make a positive difference to the community and the wider world.

Respect: Excellence is built on a culture of respect. Respect to oneself, for others and for the environment.

Aspire: High aspirations by all, for all, regardless of ability, gender, race and background.

The intent of our curriculum:

The focus of our curriculum is heavily directed to the development of students’ communication skills, self-efficacy, strong and durable retention of language, independence and autonomy. Through the 3 pillars of progression – phonology, vocabulary and Grammar, students will gain a strong phonetic knowledge that enables them to converse (and pronounce new vocabulary) confidently and provides a reinforcement of many literacy skills from their first language. They will learn how to manipulate grammar to allow them to personalise information and retain core phrases that can be recycled in a large number of real-life situations. Through this knowledge and confidence, they will become resilient and competent linguists who are open-minded and versatile communicators. 

By the end of KS3, students will understand what it is to be a linguist. Pupils will have a curiosity and fascination in discovering the world and its people, as well as having an interest and intention to travel in order to deepen their understanding of different cultures and societies. They will have an understanding of the ways in which languages are interconnected and in which languages play a part in our daily lives. Students will develop an extensive core of vocabulary and grammatical structures which will be learned and regularly practised and retrieved so that students are confident communicators in a variety of contexts across all 4 language skills. For students to achieve success in Languages, teachers ensure that there is regular and systematic practice of the essential knowledge so that students know their knowledge gaps and have the tools to practise effectively to close those gaps. This is achieved by implementing and embedding retrieval practice in all our lessons.

Students will leave the school with the knowledge and understanding that enable them to apply what they know to both familiar and unfamiliar contexts from family life to ethical issues and the world of work. This will help them to go on to achieve their potential, not just at A Level and in Higher Education but as global citizens living in a dynamic and interdependent world. Linguists at Ercall Wood Academy will have an appreciation for the world they live in and a deep understanding of their place in an ever-changing multi-cultural society. Through a knowledge rich curriculum, students will acquire the skills needed to develop the four main skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening in the target language. The invaluable communication skills and creativity developed through learning a foreign language will foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of other cultures on a local, national and international stage.

When communicating 75% of the time is spent listening and speaking (Adler, R., Rosenfeld, L. and Proctor, R., 2001) – L:45%, S: 30% and 25% on reading (16%) and writing (9%) – [The Language Gym], therefore our curriculum will focus on these 2 skills before progressing onto the written production. Language will be taught in chunks (not individual words) as this supports fluency and LTM recall.

“Language learning is not simply about combining words and applying grammar rules but rather the retrieval of the patterns and combinations we are primed for.” (Micheal Hoey – Lexical Priming 2005)

“L2 research has shown that making use of formulaic expressions and memorizing long chunks of text (and making substitutions within them) is far more efficient and effective than learning to assemble new linguistic strings in the process of language production.” (Nation,2013 Ellis,2015)

Chunks can then be manipulated. 

” A chunk is a frequently recurring, meaningful string of two or more words either fixed or with variable slots which can be learned as a single unit, without the need to analyse its elements. Once committed to (long term) memory; a chunk can be retrieved and used ‘as is’ or with modifications, if necessary, bypassing the need to generate it from individual words and grammatical rules.” (Selivan, 2018).

Through a thorough and frequent exposure to the language of that topic or the communicative function, students will be able to pick up subtleties such as phonemes, syllables, meaning, lexis, Grammar and syntax.

The implementation of our curriculum:

Key Stage 3

Our languages department employs a range of strategies to ensure students learn in an enjoyable, positive and inclusive environment. All members of staff have studied and are applying the Dr Gianfranco Conti’s approach (a respected MFL teacher, specialist and linguist) of his Extensive Processing Instruction (EPI) method. To enable our students to become successful language learners, we have reviewed our curriculum and created our own bespoke teaching resources to implement the EPI principles into our lessons.


Our EPI approach includes:

  • Sentence builders central to all lessons, enabling students to build accurate sentences

  • Extensive drilling of chunks of language through LAM and RAM using engaging games and speaking activities

  • Focus on listening and speaking skills at the start of every unit of work/sequence

  • Use of texts that are at least 95% comprehensible (comprehensible input) to build fluency and to avoid cognitive overload

  • Explicit teaching of language learning, decoding and parsing skill to support metacognition

  • Regular ‘pop up’ Grammar sessions

  • Systematic retrieval of knowledge to produce deep and durable learning

*1) MODELLING – Core structures/chunks are presented and modelled in context through reading aloud (e.g. Sentence builders & subsequent activities) using 98 % comprehensible input. Pupils are gaining familiarity with the language (phonetically & translation into L1).  

“With the majority of L 2 learners for listening and reading input to be conducive to learning, around 98 of the words must be familiar.” (Nation, 2013)

2) AWARENESS RAISING – Sensitizes the learners to the patterns/rules governing the target chunks formation and use. (Recognition of grammar but not explained in depth YET.)

3) RECEPTIVE PROCESSING – Practising the core phrases until pupils are absolutely RECEPTIVELY confident BEFORE moving on to them producing them themselves. (Longer texts but still 98% comprehensible input.) Extensive processing – (exposure to the language): the more exposure a learner has to the chunks, the more likely they are to retain the language.

Intensive Recycling in the lesson (Major memory loss within the first 20 minutes from first processing the word. Hence the importance of recycling the same items over and over again. Flooded input, Controlled input and Thorough processing are essential in order to maximize recycling.

4) STRUCTURED PRODUCTION – Intensive scaffolded and highly controlled production practice (PUSHED OUTPUT). Introduction of more ‘thinking’ and cognitive load – making students think back to what they have learnt & start to use it, but with support of SB/KO.  Start to include L1 to L2 translations. (Pop-up Grammar can also be included at this stage.)

5) EXPANSION – Structure is learnt in greater depth and practised with old and new vocabulary. Explicit work on grammar and generative processing – students expand to language patterns. Less use of KO/SBs & support to encourage them to really think!

Interleaving is powerful because  we learn best through ASSOCIATIVE learning, by hooking the new to the old. The core structures are practised with old and new vocabulary and structures overtime through systematic recycling (scaffolding might still be necessary). After much (semi-) implicit practice the students (through deductive teaching or inductive learning) learn the rule(s) governing the target item(s) in greater depth. If applicable, more aspects of the rules governing the target items are modelled and practised (e.g., from one or two persons of the present tense, to all six persons).

6) AUTONOMY – Extensive oral and written practice in which the scaffolding is gradually faded out and spoken or written output is produced by pupils with little support. Language is practised productively without scaffolding but still in familiar contexts and focus is on fast retrieval (automaticity) The aim is to develop most students’ autonomy in the use of the target structure by the end of this phase.

This phase continues throughout the academic year or even the following year(s) through systematic recycling across topics and Interleaving. Students perform structured and semi-structured tasks which may elicit the use of the target structure (surveys, interviews, role-plays, picture tasks, unstructured essays).

7) ROUTINIZATION – where the focus is on fluency development. “A grammar structure can be said to have been acquired only when it has been automatized across all 4 skills and it is applied successfully across a wide range of contexts.” (Smith & Conti, 2016)

8) SPONTANEITY – Spontaneous production of written / spoken language in response to questions or a task. Practise in unfamiliar contexts (and combining previously learned language). Practice in unplanned response through a stimulus that elicits the use of the target structure(s) is provided at spaced intervals over the year.

“Task based language teaching is a students-centred approach to second language instruction. Activities focus on having students use authentic target language in order to complete meaningful tasks, i.e., situations they might encounter in the real world and other project based assignments.” (Ludwig, 2015)

9.) FLUENCY: Extensive practice frequency and regularity being key. Use across a wide range of contexts. Practice occurs with language you know. Task repetition. Working to a time constraint in an effort to increase speed while understanding/producing an increasingly large quantity of input/output. Planning/preparing for tasks.

10.) AUTOMATICITY is the ultimate goal of language teaching. Strong long-term retention is important but being able to retrieve what we have learnt fast and effortlessly is key in language learning.*

Sequencing the curriculum is essential to generate deep and durable learning in Languages.

Where possible we replicate the order by which children naturally acquire their first language. we therefore start in Year 7 by learning key phonics. The learning of these sounds is reinforced in every unit of work, when we introduce new Sentence builders/KOs.

In Year 7 pupils learn the key grammatical ideas on which all languages are built. Students start by introducing themselves in the present tense, give opinions and talk about their possessions. This allows students to learn how adjectives behave, and the importance of the genders of nouns. Students also learn about the infinitives and how verbs are conjugated, including common irregular verbs such as ‘to be’ and ‘to have’. This knowledge is essential in order to be able to access the Year 8 and 9 curricula, where students learn to describe events in the past and future as well as complex structures.

When appropriate we also ‘seed-plant’ chunks of language. Seed planting exposes students to common chunks of language before students are expected to understand the Grammar behind the phrase. For example, students learn the important phrase ‘I would like’ from the first term, even though the conditional is not taught explicitly until Year 9.

Our students want to succeed, and, through hard work and achievement, they want to learn more. Modelling is a key aspect of teaching in MFL to support oracy and fluency. Teachers explicitly teach students how to learn, self-quiz and revise so that they can be successful in regular knowledge retrieval and vocabulary tests. This helps to ensure long-term retention of core vocabulary and skills from KS3 through to KS4 and beyond. Opportunities at KS3 and 4 provide students with real world contexts to apply their knowledge, this includes visits from foreign students and speakers as well as drawing on the wealth of material available online to support cultural and social awareness. Key concepts are revisited over key stages as well as between lessons to ensure retrieval and recall and the development of long-term memory. 

To download the full documents: 👇

Example of sequential document – Year 7 – this document is being adapted at the moment as we feel there might still be too much content – due to the Pandemic, it is difficult to judge it and be objective. However, it might give you an idea how we sequence it…

Key Stage 4

The GCSE curriculum focuses on 5 themes which are then threaded throughout KS3 teaching:

Theme 1: Identity and culture:

Topic 1 – Me, my family and friends, relationships with family and friends, marriage/partnership

Topic 2 – Technology in everyday life, social media, mobile technology

Topic 3 – Free-time activities, music, cinema and TV, food and eating out, sport

Topic 4 – Customs and festivals in German-speaking countries/communities

Theme 2: Local area, holidays and travel:

Topic 1 – Home, town, neighbourhood and region

Topic 2 – Travel and tourist transactions

Theme 3: School and education:

Topic 1 – What is school like, school life

Topic 2 – School activities/clubs

Theme 4: Future aspirations, study and work:

Topic 1 – Using languages beyond the classroom

Topic 2 – Ambitions

Topic 3 – Work/world of work

Theme 5: International and global dimension:

Topic 1 – Bringing the worlds together – festivals, sporting events, charity work

Topic 2 – Environmental issues

To download the full documents: 👇

The impact of our curriculum:

Progress is measured within lessons, and over terms, years, and key stages. In lessons, progress is measured through retrieval practice and regular formative assessments such as vocabulary and Grammar quizzing, interactive and effective multiple-choice quizzes, effective questioning as well as through marking.

Retrieval and feedback play crucial roles in assessing depth of student knowledge and understanding – therefore supporting their own metacognition and self-regulation.

Analysing other students’ answers (visualiser) also allows students to assess their own progress based upon the feedback from the teacher. Feedback is also essential for the classroom teacher in terms of informing and adapting their lesson planning as appropriate.

Mastery is achieved through regular opportunities to practice recalling key information, and redrafting and improving work based on feedback from the teacher. Key vocabulary, knowledge and skills are tracked throughout the year and tested in a summative assessment at the end of each term and cumulatively at the end of the year. Data from the summative assessments will be entered into a departmental spread sheet for teachers to use, to review, inform the reporting system and reteach parts of the curriculum as appropriate.

Gaps are addressed and closed not just at the end of each topic but also during lessons to ensure students have a solid understanding before another structures or topic is taught. This may lead to classes starting topics in different weeks but will ensure all students are secure in their understanding.

Key terms and structures will be learnt every lesson and retrieved at least 2 out of 4 lessons at KS3 and at least 3 out of 5 lessons at KS4 (spacing). Students will be tested/quizzed on phrases they learnt that week, but also on key terms/Grammar from previous lessons/topics to practice recall and retrieval, ensuring interleaving and transfer of knowledge (i.e., students can apply their knowledge of tenses, adjectival endings etc. across variety of topics/context not just apply it during a specific unit, which often becomes a problem when ‘blocking’). Retrieval practice is an integral part of every lesson to inform students and teachers of any gaps in knowledge so these can be addressed swiftly.

Engagement in MFL will be evident in a healthy uptake for GCSE, and again on to higher education. Students will be inspired to take part in visits abroad to partner cities such as Trier, Cologne and Berlin in Germany as well as to local universities to see how languages work in real life. Conversations about travel and holidays throughout the school year will show students how they can easily apply their language skills to real life experiences. Linguists will be proud of their communication skills and their links with abroad via pen pal projects. The diverse and knowledge rich curriculum should develop confident and articulate linguists who want to discover more about the world around them.

Note: We have introduced the E.P.I method at KS3 in September 2020 – due to the Pandemic, it is not possible to objectively judge the impact on progress, however there is an evident improvement in what students can produce, engagement, confidence and enjoyment from students (based on Pupils’ Voice surveys on the departmental level and whole school – SLT level).

To download the OFSTED MFL knowledge organiser: 👇

💚💚💚If you find any of these documents useful as well as time saving, you can show your appreciation by treating me to a coffee here:

References: – Secondary Languages – OFSTED Deep Dive into Curriculum – Intent, Implementation and Impact – you need to be a member to access these recordings

*Summary of the MARS EARS (highlighted) was shared by Katharyn Trinel on Twitter. Based on and with credits to Gianfranco Conti.

LCT/EWA document templates

3 komentarze

28 lis 2023

I love the OFSTED MFL knowledge organiser. Are you happy for us to use your idea to help us to produce our own?


28 lis 2023

How inspirational! Thank you!


28 lis 2023

This is fantastic, Silvia. Thank you so much.

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