Modern Foreign Languages

The MFL Department aims to give all pupils an energetic experience of language learning. We adopt the communicative approach to language learning and pupils respond positively and with confidence in the target language. We aim to develop pupils’ confidence and ability in communicating in a foreign language as well as enriching their cultural knowledge and experience.

To develop an awareness and an appreciation of other languages and cultures in KS4, the majority of pupils study a foreign language and they currently have the option to continue studying both French and Spanish at KS4. The GCSE is a two year course and through their study of a foreign language, pupils are provided with a range of learning opportunities:

  • to work creatively, independently and in groups
  • to develop their communication skills through a range of learning situations
  • to use ICT to enhance their language learning

Learning a language provides a suitable foundation for further study and practical use of other subjects at A-level. It also helps to develop confidence and life skills through listening, speaking, reading and writing in another language and further enhancing the understanding of a pupil’s own language.

In the Edexcel GCSE course, pupils will cover the following themes over the two years: 

  • Identity and Culture
  • Local Area / Holiday / Travel
  • School
  • Future aspirations, study and work
  • International and global dimension

There will be tiered papers but candidates will take Foundation or Higher tiers in all four skills areas i.e. listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each skill will carry an equal weighting of 25%. A new feature of the latest GCSE course is translation to and from the target language. Role-plays will be in the target language and there will be some target language questions on the listening and reading papers.

The Listening Examination
  • The Foundation paper lasts for 35 minutes including five minutes reading time and the Higher paper will last 45 minutes including 5 minutes reading time.
  • Multiple response questions and open response.
  • Two questions in target language but no written response required.
  • There will be 4 common questions on both tiers.
The Speaking Test

There will a 5-week window in April/May for speaking tests to be recorded and in the preparation period pupils will be supervised by an invigilator.


  • Foundation: 7 - 9 minutes (plus 12 minutes supervised preparation time)
  • Higher: 10 - 12 minutes (plus 12 minutes supervised preparation time)
  • Conversation Foundation:  3.5 - 4 minutes (2 topics)
  • Conversation Higher: 5 - 6 minutes (2 topics)

3 tasks – a role-play, questions based on a picture stimulus, a conversation.


There will be two themes, one chosen by the candidate and the other chosen by the exam board.

Part 1 – Pupils will choose from one of the five themes in advance of the assessment.
Each pupil is allowed to present for up to one minute on their chosen topic. The teacher will continue the conversation on the chosen topic and other topics within the same theme.

Part 2 – The second theme will be allocated by the exam board– the teacher will choose from two themes ensuring that the second conversation theme is different to the first.


Foundation: 4 prompts and 1 unpredictable question

Higher: 4 prompts and 2 unpredictable questions

Picture-based task 

Candidates are given stimulus with guidance in the target language in their preparation time.
Teacher will ask 5 compulsory questions – no additional follow-up questions. In the Higher paper, one of the questions will be unexpected.
In the role-play the focus is on communication.
In the picture-based discussion and conversation, the emphasis is on: communication and content; linguistic knowledge;  accuracy and interaction and spontaneity.

The Reading Examination
  • The Foundation Paper lasts for 45 minutes and the Higher for 1 hour
  • There will be a variety of multiple choice questions and short-answer open response questions. 
  • There will be 3 questions in the target language and one short passage from the target Language to English.
  • There will be two questions based on literary texts and four common questions on the Foundation and Higher papers.

The Writing Examination


  • 1 hour 10 minutes – one translation and three open response questions
  • For one open response question pupils choose one of two tasks (this is also common on the higher paper) 
  • Pupils will be required to translate five sentences from English to the target language.


  • Higher – 1 hour 20 minutes – one translation + two open response questions
  • For each of the two open response questions, pupils will choose one of two writing tasks (one of these questions is also on the Foundation tier)
  • Pupils will be required to translate a short paragraph from English to the target language.