Shortage of MFL Specialists puts a Strain on KS2 Teachers
Supplier Focus: ICT
The shortage of specialist MFL teachers in Key Stage 2 and the subsequent lack of teacher expertise and confidence in delivering MFL has made the provision of high quality foreign language quite a challenge for many primary schools.
Dilemma for Non-Specialist MFL Teachers
The expectation to show pupils progressing confidently with foreign language structures, pronunciation and grammar knowledge can all too often leave non-specialist MFL teachers feeling disempowered with the subject and unable to “independently” provide the high-quality lessons that they can deliver for the rest of the curriculum.
One primary school in the West Midlands was in such a dilemma four years ago, when MFL was just becoming compulsory on the KS2 curriculum. The SEN coordinator at that time had the “unfortunate” responsibility of also being the MFL coordinator and was struggling to provide adequate content, support and foreign language skills to advise other members of staff, who equally did not know how to really grasp this issue and turn it into a positive experience for both pupils and teachers alike.
A chance email and a conversation between the Headteacher and the Business Manager led to the beginning of a transformative shift for this primary school. It was here that Language Magnet was born as the school embraced, not an external provider to “do the job for them”, but instead, a radical coaching approach that completely transformed the teaching staff’s ability and confidence to deliver MFL for themselves. All the necessary resources and coaching were provided by Language Magnet to enable this school to turn their “nightmare” into a platform for phenomenal growth, proving that foreign languages can be taught effectively by non-MFL specialists, if teachers are given access to flexible, personalized and sustained CPD as well as high-quality resources and lesson plans that are designed specifically for them.
Today, this same school sees pupils thriving in French, enjoying their lessons with great enthusiasm and making good progress in a subject that has opened up a whole range of possibilities for the future, not only for each child but also for each teacher. The teachers themselves are competently assessing pupil attainment and are able to support new teachers with confidence and self-belief. For the Headteacher, who was willing to trust her intuition and the vision of Language Magnet, it is an MFL dream come true.
In this new era of digital education, language apps and devices, Language Magnet maintains a clear route to developing strong language structures, sound grammar knowledge and accurate pronunciation in French and Spanish by providing a progressive scheme of work that incorporates technology. The presentations include audio files that support the teacher’s pronunciation and the use of audio QR codes bring many of the activity sheets “to life”, allowing pupils to learn independently and enabling them to have fun with their new-found skill outside of school and frequently engaging parents with their language learning. The programme also allows teachers to develop their own style of MFL teaching, whether that be with more music, craft, games or ICT, whilst Language Magnet provides the language structures, progression and assessment. Detailed lesson plans support the complete beginner and plenty of extension or alternative lesson ideas encourage more confident linguists to explore their talents further.
The difference between an ordinary scheme of work and an exceptional one is the ability of non-specialist MFL teachers to apply the programme to their own lessons. The key is regular CPD language training for teachers that enables them to surpass their own ‘default’ mechanisms and teach beyond their self-expectations. Language Magnet brings a new dimension to the digital world of foreign language education by providing regular online MFL coaching. This allows for bespoke language support for each member of staff, who all bring different experiences and levels of confidence to their coaching sessions. Instead of a teacher being out on a full one day MFL course, they need only be out of the classroom for an hour, engaging in their own personal learning and discovering their own abilities with foreign language. What better way could there be for children to enjoy and emulate a positive approach to language learning than to see their own teacher engaging with and modelling the fun of foreign language learning themselves?
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