The importance of MFL in the curriculum

Date: 4th Feb 2020

Author: Marie Dermy

All students, regardless of their age, their academic ability, their race, background and wealth should be given the opportunity to learn a foreign language at school.

However, sometimes it feels like Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) does not have the importance it should have in the curriculum or in parents’ and colleagues’ priorities.

Parents often comment on the need to learn a foreign language if the student is unlikely to go and live there. They also sometimes question its importance when English literacy levels lag behind.

MFL is important because we actually teach much more than just Spanish or French. When we teach MFL, we teach literacy, reading, spelling and speaking skills along with English grammar.

We boost students’ confidence in speaking aloud and reading aloud. We teach students to write complex sentences and we show them the different types of clauses that will get them to the highest grades, how they link and in which order they should go.

In MFL, we teach them to:

  • Look for patterns
  • Look for word parts and understand the words through suffixes and prefixes and
  • Think about words which sound/look the same
  • Check to see if the word is right by using a dictionary, books or displays
  • Looking for cognates and links between English and the target language

What about SEN students? I believe that all students in Year 7 and 8 should be given a taster of it and given the option to do it at GCSE level. In Year 7, students come in sometimes feeling like they are already behind in every subject but they shouldn’t feel like this in MFL since all students start from the very beginning.

Learning a language will open all students’ minds to a new culture, improve their ability to cope with a new system and a different way of doing things. It will give them time to make links with their own language and understand their own mother tongue.

If you ask me what my job as an MFL teacher entails, I will most certainly tell you that I am a not only a teacher of English and Spanish grammar, writing and reading skills. I also teach confidence in speaking skills, understanding of the British culture and how it links or differs from other cultures and, most importantly, I am a teacher of open-mindedness.

I believe MFL teachers teach children to be citizens of the world and that is the most important part of our job.

Marie Dermy

Marie Dermy

MFL Subject Expert

Marie completed her degree in English Literature, History, Grammar & Phonetics from University Nanterre-La Defense near Paris in 2009. She subsequently worked as a Foreign Language Assistant in Kent for two years before doing a Master’s degree in French as a Foreign Language in 2011.

After completing her MFL teacher training at The University of Portsmouth in 2011, she worked at The Weydon School in Surrey for five years before joining Park Community School in 2017. She has completed her NPQML course and is now second in the MFL department offering vast experience to The Solent SCITT having mentored 10 SCITT/PGCE students in her career.