Aim: To explore the extent to which the use of authentic resources in lessons can improve motivation, attainment and uptake of MFL.
Background: The start of this project coincided with the changes made to the KS3 national curriculum and came at a time when proposed changes to the GCSE exams were being released. One of the major changes was the emphasis placed on students’ ability to identify key messages in authentic texts.
Following research, a specific set of Year 7 lessons which included the use of authentic resources was created and all Year 7 French teachers were trained to deliver them. One project was based on Petit poisson blanc. Students then created their own books based on this.
Following departmental discussion which generated more ideas, schemes of work (SOW) which included authentic texts were also written for Years 8 and 9. The texts no longer focused solely on literature but also included websites, poems, plays, tour guides, historical texts, magazines, etc. Reading assessments included sections with authentic texts and Year 7 Spanish teachers also experimented with a project similar to Petit poisson blanc.
Authentic texts were extended to include listening, e.g. songs, films, adverts and announcements. Spanish and German SOW and assessments changed to mirror the changes made in French. Plans were made to purchase authentic resources for the library and also have them on offer in classrooms for students to borrow.
Evidence: Departmental review, take up of MFL, student voice.
Impact: Teachers became more confident in including authentic resources in class and it is now part of everyday practice. The team are no longer worried that students won’t be able to cope with the difficulty and have embraced the project. Students are more resilient when faced with reading texts and are able to work more independently. There has been an improvement in their reading results, and Year 9, who have benefitted from three years of this initiative, saw a 32% increase in students achieving the internal measure of Level 9.7 and above. Pupils’ vocabulary has increased and they are able to use words seen in the authentic texts in their own writing which was an unexpected surprise.
There was also an increase in the number of students opting for GCSE languages. All members of the department contributed to SOW and therefore all benefited from each other’s interests and expertise.
Reflections: It has been very rewarding and motivating to work on this project to such an extent that we have achieved more over the three years than we initially set out to do. These were changes that needed to be made and the PTI project gave a clear direction to work from. At the heart of this, was student motivation, enjoyment and improvement in attainment. I believe that this has been achieved through this project to the benefit of our students; they are engaged with their learning and uptake at GCSE has increased.
Contact: Hollie Belcher, Head of MFL, firstname.lastname@example.org