The impact of the new National Curriculum on language teaching

20th March 2013 at 13:21
TES languages adviser Rachel Hawkes has digested the new National Curriculum for KS2 and KS3 and come up with some ideas of how this might change how and what's taught in the languages classroom

The new National Curriculum document for languages is brief, in the version I've uploaded to TES Resources both KS2 and KS3 fit easily onto one slide. While I welcome a slimmed-down curriculum with room for flexibility, creativity and choice, freedom also produces uncertainty and no small degree of anxiety.

Over the next few months we will need to find ways to share ideas and practice as we interpret the new framework for the classroom. I've been thinking in particular about three key areas of practice: transcription, translation, and reading literary texts. Although these refer specifically to KS3, it's useful to start by identifying the links to the relevant section of the KS2 document, as this gives a clearer idea about practice in a classroom context.

Health warning! These thoughts are by no means exhaustive or `finished'; they are just a collection of thoughts and resources, a point on the journey so far.

Transcription

There might be concerns that the requirement for students to be able to `transcribe words and short sentences that they hear with increasing accuracy' is a return to old-fashioned dictation. This need not be our interpretation. It helps to make a link to the KS2 statement that learners should `explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words.' Seeing the former as an extension of the latter enables us to contextualise both as phonics knowledge, a secure grasp of the sound - writing relationship, which I suspect would incur very little resistance amongst languages teachers. Many already teach FL phonics at KS2 and develop the practice at KS3. There is a phonics resources collection for French, German and Spanish here.

Teaching the sounds of the foreign language in an active way achieves the following:

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