Modern Foreign Languages

No-one can doubt the importance of learning a language considering the global environment in which we live.  Being able to speak a language connects us to the world around us.  As Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my universe”. 

Key Stage 3

At St. Mary’s Catholic School, all students study French in Year 7 and 8.  In Year 7 topics include Family and friends, My home, My town, My school day and Leisure.  In Year 8, students study Jobs, Daily routine, TV programmes, Invitations, Clothes and Shopping, Food, Holidays and Pocket money. 

Some students are given the opportunity to begin Spanish in Year 9 while the others continue with French.  The Spanish course is intensive and prepares students to take Spanish at GCSE should they so wish. Year 9 Spanish students study the topics of Family and friends, My home, My town, My school day and Leisure. Year 9 French students learn to talk about Cinema, Future plans, Healthy living and a region of France.

Key Stage 3 French students use Expo 1-3 and Spanish students use Listos 1.

All Key Stage 3 students are regularly assessed.  Two Common Assessments take place each half term and students are set according to ability.  Grammar is an important part of the learning and students have regular translation practice to help develop skills in this area.

Key Stage 4

GCSE Modern Foreign Languages – French/Spanish/Italian

Assessment Methods

At Key Stage 4 French, Italian and Spanish are currently options for our students.  All languages follow the Edexcel examination board.  The final examinations consist of one Listening and one Reading paper each worth 20% of the overall grade.  There are two tiers for each examination and the students take either Foundation or Higher tier.  Speaking and Writing are both done in the form of two Controlled Assessments for each skill.  The total value of the Speaking and Writing is 30% each.

Pearson/Edexcel Specifications: The study of Modern Foreign Languages at GCSE will be thought-provoking, active and engaging. It will give you a deeper understanding of the countries in which the language you study is spoken and will help you to develop your skills of research, analysis and independence. There may be opportunities to go abroad, allowing you to gain a greater understanding of the culture. You will also have the opportunity to use ICT, see videos, and make group presentations in the target language, so as to help you learn effectively.

NB: students who are fortunate to speak languages other than those on offer at St Mary’s can also be given the opportunity to sit a GCSE and the Department will help them achieve this.

More information can be found on Modern Foreign Languages page of the pearson's website

GCSE courses in FRENCH/SPANISH/ITALIAN look at these topic areas:-

1) Lifestyle


• Healthy and unhealthy lifestyles and their consequences


Relationships and Choices:-

• Relationships with family and friends

• Future plans regarding: marriage/partnership

• Social issues and equality


2) Leisure

Free Time and the Media:-

• Free time activities

• Shopping, money, fashion and trends

• Advantages and disadvantages of new technology



• Plans, preferences, experiences

• What to see and getting around 3. Home and Environment


Home and Local Area:-

• Special occasions celebrated in the home

• Home, town, neighbourhood and region, where it is, and

• what it is like


3) Environment:-

• Current problems facing the planet

• Being environmentally-friendly within the home, and

• local area


4) Work and Education

School/College and Future Plans:-

• What school/college is like

• Pressures and problems


Current and Future Jobs:-

• Looking for and getting a job

• Work experience

• Advantages and disadvantages of different jobs


Listening and Reading are tiered; candidates can enter for either Foundation or Higher Tier in any available series. Speaking and Writing are untiered

Student Guide to Controlled Assessment – Tasks



The Speaking unit is worth 30% of the qualification as a whole. There are 30 marks available per task, making a total of 60 marks. Each task should last between four and six minutes.

 Students will complete four Controlled Assessment tasks for both Writing and Speaking component and the best two will be chosen for each component.

• Both tasks will be in the form of a dialogue;

• Foundation and Higher students will complete adapted tasks on the same topic;

• The teacher will set the tasks, mark the tasks and submit them to the board for moderation;

• Students must not submit the same task for Speaking and Writing.


Example of Mock Speaking Assessment Tasks:-

1) Healthy Living:-

You are talking to your French pen pal about your lifestyle.

2) Holidays:-

You are on holiday in France. You have agreed to take part in a survey about holidays. Your teacher will play the part of the person carrying out the survey.

3) Home:-

You are talking to your pen pal about your house and your town. Your teacher will play the part of your friend.

4) World of Work:-

You are taking part in an interview about part-time jobs, work experience, future careers and your free time. You teacher will play the part of your employer.



The Writing unit is worth 30% of the qualification. There are 30 marks per task, making a total of 60 marks. Students will complete Controlled Assessment tasks and the best two will be chosen.

• Students should produce a minimum 250 words per task;

• Higher and Foundation students will do the same topic, but differentiated;

• The tasks will be marked by the board;

• Students must complete all work independently and can use what they have done in lessons or at home for homework.


Examples of Mock Writing Assessment Tasks:-

1) Relationships:

You are writing to your pen pal about relationships with family and friends and also about your plans for the future.

2) Leisure:-

You are writing an e-mail to your pen pal.

3) Environment:-

Your pen pal has been asked to participate in a debate on the environment at school. He is keen to have an international perspective.

4) School:-

Your pen pal has asked you to write an article in French for her school magazine about school life in Great Britain.

Key Stage 5

Languages complement many subjects at university and the skills learnt through languages are easily transferable: communication, thinking and analytical skills to name but a few.

The examination board for A Level we use is AQA.  At AS the topics include:  Media, Popular Culture, Healthy living/Lifestyle, Family/Relationships.  Unit 1 is a Listening, Reading and Writing paper worth 70% of the AS grade and Unit 2 is a speaking examination worth 30% of the AS examination.  This includes a discussion of a stimulus card and a 10 minute conversation.

At A2 the students study topics such as Pollution and Energy, Wealth and Poverty, Law and Order, Integration and Racism.  Unit 3 is a Listening, Reading and Writing paper worth 35% of the total A Level  marks and Unit 4 is a speaking examination worth 15% of the total A Level marks.  For the writing and the speaking, students study an author and a film director.  The speaking also includes a discussion of a stimulus card.

More information on the A Level course can be found here


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