The Linguist

The Linguist 53,3

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 15 of 35

16 The Linguist JUNE/JULY FEATURES AIMING HIGHER The new curriculum aims to be more inspiring and imaginative As a new 14-16 curriculum is developed for 2017, Shirley Lawes looks at the changes afoot T he changes that are in progress across the whole school curriculum in England will perhaps affect modern languages (MFL) most profoundly. The introduction of compulsory foreign language learning from the age of seven, which will come into effect in September, should have a significant impact on the quality and level of language learning that the majority of pupils can achieve by the end of Key Stage 3 (KS3; ages 11-14). Both the KS2 (ages 7-11) and KS3 curricula emphasise the importance of culture and grammatical knowledge, with a requirement for teachers to use literature in an appropriate form. Other forms of cultural knowledge are expected to feature in all foreign language study. We should remember that language learning will not be compulsory at Key Stage 4 (KS4; ages 14-16). Nevertheless, as I have suggested previously (see 'Taking Languages Seriously?', TL52,5), there seems to be a concerted attempt by policy-makers to provide for a more inspiring and rigorous foreign language apprenticeship in schools. The meaning of progression will potentially take on a new dimension. By the time a child who is seven in 2014 takes their GCSE, it is likely that they will have been learning the language for nine years. Therefore, we should be able to expect a much higher level of communicative competence and cultural knowledge by many more young people than ever before. Laying the foundations So are we now seeing the beginnings of a languages revolution in England? Well, nothing is guaranteed and many challenges lie ahead, but the potential is certainly there. The new GCSE examination, in effect from September 2017, will take into account the longer period of language apprenticeship and the need for higher capability and cognitive challenge. The process in redesigning the examination has involved a considerable amount of consultation with interested professionals on the basis of the government's proposals to 'restore rigour and confidence to our examination system at age 16'. 1 A group of expert advisors devised the broad subject content that will follow on from the new KS3 Programme of Study. 'Subject content' does not refer to specific subject matter (eg, Daily Life and Leisure Activities), but to a framework of study that expresses the underpinning principles and indicates the type of subject matter that should be included. The recommendations of the advisory group and the results of public consultation were then taken up by specialists at the Department for Education (DfE) who wrote the 'subject criteria', which provides more detailed information about the aims and learning outcomes, the requirements of the scheme of assessment and the grade descriptions. This was given to the Awarding Organisations, formerly known as Examinations Boards (such as OCR, AQA and Edexcel), to turn into the examination specifications (syllabus) that prescribe the actual subject matter and grammar content and their appropriate assessment. These bodies also consult with groups of interested professionals. The process is intended to ensure coherence and rigour, and to reflect academic objectives as well as government policy. The Awarding Organisations (AOs) undoubtedly have a delicate path to tread in producing Revising the GCSE

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