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MFL Department – French and Spanish

Learning a language is a way to make connections with others. Even a few words can open doors, hearts and minds, and the more you know of a language, the deeper and more meaningful those connections can become.
- Simon Ager, author of Omniglot

Notitia linguarum est prima porta sapientiae.
(Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom)
- Roger Bacon, medieval English philosopher

The MFL Department at Walthamstow Academy strives to ensure that students begin an exciting language-learning journey from day one, building skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The team endeavours to develop students as confident decoders of familiar and unfamiliar language, and communicators in a range of contexts. Both within and beyond the classroom, department colleagues are also committed to encouraging our learners to discover the authentic cultures and opportunities available beyond the borders of the English-speaking world, and to appreciate the immense potential of language learning to transform our world for the better.

Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3 students have the opportunity to begin a learning journey in either French or Spanish and are taught based on methods guided by current research in the field of language-learning. Students build their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through sentence builders, authentic comprehension tasks, dialogue activities and scaffolded written tasks. Students also build their long-term memory of key language though regular quizzing and feedback. Each year, students’ learning is assessed through reading, listening and writing exams in January and June, while speaking is developed consistently in class time.


Year 7

Year 7 establishes the core foundations for language learning at Walthamstow Academy, ensuring that students can introduce themselves and describe both themselves and members of their family, along with where they live and their experience of school. We build students’ confidence, particularly in the first term, with a focus on key phonics in French and Spanish using memorable actions and images. Students use this confidence to comprehend, decode and create language involving basic description; regular and irregular verb conjugation; present and future tenses; opinions; negatives; questions and adverbs. 

Year 8

Year 8 units in French and Spanish begin to draw on some key topics from the GCSE course to expand students’ ability to comprehend and communicate language involving how they spend their free time; where they go and what they do on holiday; their health and daily routine; and their future plans after school. Students are encouraged to extend their flexibility in speaking and writing tasks and are introduced to higher level structures such as comparatives, while also building their repertoire of tenses with introductions to the imperfect and perfect, along with reflexive verb structures.

Year 9

In this critical year for language learners, when they make a decision as to whether or not to pursue a GCSE language qualification, we continue to draw on and adapt the themes of Identity and Culture, and Local, national, international and global areas of interest, from the GCSE syllabus to guide the curiosity of our students beyond our borders. After a unit on relationships with family and friends, compare and contrast festivals, traditions and cities in a variety of francophone and hispanophone countries. They also study the environment, charity involvement and children’s experience around the world, employing a range of higher-level structures and tenses in order to decode and create more articulate language. 

We encourage all of our students to pursue a GCSE language qualification because we know that:
-    Students with language skills stand out from the crowd and have the edge in the global job market.
-    The Russel Group – a group of 24 universities with a record for academic achievement – has named languages as subjects that open doors to more degrees at universities.
-    Language skills open up life-changing opportunities to travel and work abroad.
-    Language learning builds resilience and independence which improves students’ confidence to question the familiar and to discover the unfamiliar.
-    Languages combine well with any other subject for further study.


Students at Walthamstow Academy have opportunities to explore film and theatre events in excursions to institutions such as the French Institute in South Kensington and the Cervantes Theatre in Borough. There is also an after school Mandarin club which runs every week in school and is open to all. We plan for students in KS3 and KS4 to have the chance to take part in day trips and residentials to France and Spain in the post-Brexit 2020-21 academic year. 

Key Stage 4

In years 10 and 11 students prepare for and sit the AQA French or Spanish GCSE exams, which are as follows:

Paper 1 – Listening
Paper 2 – Speaking
Paper 3 – Reading 
Paper 4 – Writing 

These exams cover the following content:

Theme 1 Identity and Culture:
-    Me, My Family and Friends
-    Technology in Everyday Life
-    Free Time Activities
-    Customs and Festivals in French OR Spanish-speaking Countries

Theme 2 Local, national, international and global areas of interest:
-    Home, Town, Neighbourhood and Region
-    Social Issues
-    Global Issues
-    Travel and Tourism

Theme 3 Current and Future Study and Employment:
-    My Studies
-    Life at School/College
-    Education Post-16
-    Job, Career Choices and Ambitions 


Key Stage 5

When students decide to study for an A-Level qualification in French or Spanish at Walthamstow Academy, they have the chance to continue their journey of linguistic and cultural discovery through the units of the AQA syllabus, which guides students in examining diverse areas of focus within the broad areas of social issues and trends, and political and artistic culture. Students have the opportunity to be taught by highly knowledgeable teachers who have first-hand experience of French and Spanish life, and hone their skills in grammar usage, comprehension, translation and summarising through close analysis of authentic material. 

Students also have to conduct an individual research on a subject of personal interest, relating to the country where the language of study is spoken. Finally, they develop their essay writing skills as they are taught to analyse and critique two artistic works from the following:


Molière Le Tartuffe
Voltaire Candide
Guy de Maupassant Boule de Suif et autres contes de la guerre
Albert Camus L’étranger
Françoise Sagan Bonjour tristesse
Claire Etcherelli Elise ou la vraie vie
Joseph Joffo Un sac de billes
Faïza Guène Kiffe kiffe demain
Philippe Grimbert Un secret
Delphine de Vigan No et moi

Les 400 coups François Truffaut (1959)
Au revoir les enfants Louis Malle (1987)
La Haine Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)
L’auberge espagnole Cédric Klapisch (2002)
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2004)
Entre les murs Laurent Cantet (2008)  


Federico García Lorca La casa de Bernarda Alba
Gabriel García Márquez Crónica de una muerte anunciada
Laura Esquivel Como agua para chocolate
Ramón J. Sender Réquiem por un campesino español
Carlos Ruiz Zafón La sombra del viento
Isabel Allende La casa de los espíritus
Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer Rimas
Fernando Fernán-Gómez Las bicicletas son para el verano
Luis de Castresana El otro árbol de Guernica
Gabriel García Márquez El coronel no tiene quien le escriba

El laberinto del fauno Guillermo del Toro (2006)
Ocho apellidos vascos Emilio Martínez-Lázaro (2014)
María, llena eres de gracia Joshua Marston (2004)
Volver Pedro Almodóvar (2006)
Abel Diego Luna (2010)
Las 13 rosas Emilio Martínez-Lázaro (2007)  

The MFL Team

The MFL team at Walthamstow Academy is united by a passion for learning and teaching languages. We encourage a culture of questions and draw on our rich experiences as language learners ourselves, as well as former residents of Francophone and Hispanophone countries, to respond and motivate our students to achieve highly across all language skills, drawing on up to date research in the field of language learning.

Ms Serena Alexis - Head of MFL; teacher of French and Spanish 

Ms Diane Collins – Second in Charge of MFL

Ms Stephanie Silva – Teacher of Spanish

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