Like many Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) teachers around the country, we spent much of last year feeling a little edgy about the imminent changes in A Level languages. What would the new syllabus cover in each language? Which new skills would be introduced? How would the exams assess our students? Should we offer the AS exam? So many things to worry about, but no concrete information was provided until 22nd April 2016, when our language A levels with AQA were finally accredited. So how are things looking now we are one year into these revised A Levels?
After our AQA training, in-depth conversations and large amounts of time invested in planning our teaching, we were ready for September. Within the wider MFL world, there was a feeling of pessimism and gloom but we tried hard to stay positive and to look for all the upsides, for example teaching pupils how to write summaries from listening and reading sources is a fantastic skill for the real working world. Our students need to speak spontaneously and in depth on an independent project of their choice in the oral: what brilliant and confident communicators we are developing! Once again, literature has become compulsory but surely this is an essential part of being able to appreciate another country, her culture and history. Our students, as of old, need to understand and refer to the target language country, but this helps them to be more sympathetic towards other cultures and they will surely grow into tolerant and collaborative adults able to cope with this vast and fast-moving modern world.
Ten months on and within MFL, we are embracing this new exam and are delighted to be part of something so much more engaging and more valuable than what went previously. We are loving the literature component, which reminds us of our own happy days of reading at university! Our department is buzzing with the new skills, the revitalised curriculum, the new topic areas, wider use of IT and yes, we are delighted with the changes. Our students seem pretty happy too! Looking ahead, we are now starting to make tweaks to our IB and IGCSE teaching. So, change is great and given that Taunton School is preparing students to join this rapidly changing world, then let us adults (teachers and parents) be determined to keep up, stay open minded and continue to grow – and embrace the change.