“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.”
Flora Lewis

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Our Curriculum Intent

We aim to develop and nurture curious, confident and enthusiastic linguists capable of respecting and valuing the cultural and linguistic diversity that enrich our global community. Intercultural awareness and foreign language skills are valued by further education establishment and employers alike. We endeavour to empower our students to succeed at languages and cultivate the desire to be lifelong language learners through a carefully constructed curriculum and engaging learning environment enhanced by a variety of multi-media resources, and perhaps most importantly by sharing our own enthusiasm and passion for languages.

Language teaching at Orchard Mead Academy starts with a range of activities to promote phonological awareness (the sound-spelling correspondences of French/Spanish and how to pronounce French/Spanish words), the ability to introduce oneself in French/Spanish and an appreciation of the scope of the French-and Spanish-speaking worlds (it’s not just in France/Spain where French and Spanish are spoken!). 

Excellent study habits are cultivated through weekly vocabulary tests that students are asked to revise for at home (short revision sessions of 5-15 minutes over several days is recommended). The passive vocabulary tests are designed to be accessible to all students and the first eight items in passive tests are a match up activity requiring only recognition, with the remaining items to be translated from French or Spanish into English, while in active tests the initial letter of each word is provided for the first 4 sentences.

Our homework expectation is that all students work hard to commit this vocabulary to long term memory by using Quizlet or paper. We ask all students to either submit a screen shot of their Quizlet homework with the date on Satchel One or to bring in paper evidence of self-quizzing (look/cover/write/check) and give it to their teacher on the day of the vocab test. If at that point, any students have not submitted electronically or brought in paper evidence, they will receive a negative point, which could lead to a detention, as per our school homework policy.

KS4 students are also required to complete one page of a Reading/Translation/Grammar booklet to practise their exam skills and bring this to class on the day of the vocab test, or if they misplace the booklet to write their answers on paper and bring this instead.

Spaced learning and retrieval practice of past topics and vocabulary are integral to the curriculum, all of which help to facilitate long-term retention of key vocabulary chunks and structures. We also encourage students to listen to the target language at home as regular exposure to the language is extremely helpful and we provide links to useful websites with short, engaging videos and audio resources. In addition, students can take their learning further, by using the app Duolingo and joining the OMA French / OMA Spanish class to take part in the regular competitions.

As pupils progress, they acquire grammatical understanding and increased awareness of similarities and differences between French and English, which empowers them to be creative with the language, skilfully adapting and manipulating words, chunks and structures to express themselves with increasing accuracy and confidence.

Within the eleven topics that comprise our Key Stage 3 & 4 curriculum, students learn to analyse the most important and frequently used words, chunks and structures of the French language, how to use different strategies to develop their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills and experience the pleasure of understanding and communicating successfully in a foreign language. Overarching the whole curriculum is the idea that the understanding of a second language can vastly improve their understanding of their own language, their ability to see patterns and recognise trends, and to fully embrace the global community to which they belong.

KS3 Overview

Autumn 1 Autumn 2 Spring 1 Spring 2 Summer 1 Summer 2
Year 7 Introduction to French: numbers and dates – phonics Phonics, where you’re from and languages you speak Phonics, school and teachers Phonics, school timetable and activities Phonics, My home and houses Phonics, My area, places in town and activities
Year 8 Sports and hobbies Sports and hobbies and weather Holiday destinations Future plans Culture Food and culture
Year 9 Past holidays Holidays using multiple tenses Media Technology Marriage, Relationships and future plans Festivals and music

Year 7 – Units 1, 2 and 3.

Unit 1

Students learn the sounds of French and are taught to recognise, pronounce and spell them as they appear in common words. This is achieved through a range of listening exercises, call and response, student led vocal games, and dictations. We highlight the global nature of the French/Spanish language: le monde francophone (French-speaking world) and el mundo hispanohablante (Spanish-speaking world). We touch upon key primary topics such as numbers, days and months, reinforce, and develop this understanding in relation to age and dates before saying where we’re from and what languages we speak. Teachers model classroom language and reinforce language acquisition by repetition and reward, so that students quickly are able to hold a two-way conversation about simple classroom requests.

Unit 2 

Students draw upon the key introductory language taught in Unit 1 to begin to express their opinions on school subjects, teachers and activities. The grammar strand features strongly as students become acquainted with the conjugation of key opinion verbs that will support them throughout their language career.

Unit 3

We use the building blocks of the first two units to discuss house, activities within the house, the town and area, compare cities and regions and discuss activities within town. Students are exposed to a wide variety of passive resources that allow them to practise their reading and listening skills, and we interleave vocabulary from prior topics e.g. introductions and school. By the end of year 7, students should all be able to actively express an opinion about a school subject, a teacher and houses/activities at home or in town without support, as well as introduce themselves in simple terms, with good pronunciation and fluency. Passively they will be able to understand French speakers talking or writing about their own opinions on the same topics.

Year 8 – Units 4-6

Unit 4: Sports and hobbies

Students learn about free time activities, sports and hobbies, introducing irregular verbs in the present and near future tense as well as revisiting the –er verbs seen in previous units. Students develop passive understanding of texts and audio recordings on free-time activities, healthy living and recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.

Unit 5: Holiday plans and future plans

Students build on their knowledge of the key irregular verb aller to improve their proficiency and confident with the near future tense, enabling them to talk about future plans and holiday plans.

Unit 6: Culture and food

Linking to celebratory activities and festivals in Key Stage 4, this unit takes students on a journey of cultural and culinary discovery. Students learn about the richness and diversity within the French-and Spanish-speaking worlds, ranging from important historical and geographical information to celebrations, traditions and foods. The KS3 trip to the Opal Coast, will reinforce this as they will sample French foods, visit a bakery and chocolate factory and be able to try out their café vocabulary.

By the end of year 8 students should be able to understand both written and spoken material on all the topics learned so far, and answer questions on school, house and town, free-time, holidays plans and activities and cultural activities in at least two-time frames (present and future).

Year 9 – Units 7-9

Unit 7: Holidays and High Frequency Vocabulary

Year 9 is a hinge year, the final year of KS3 and a springboard to studying French/Spanish at GCSE. We begin by building on the introduction to this key GCSE topic in Unit 5, by including the past tense(s), preparing students to successfully tackle a GCSE written or spoken question through accurate references to past events and activities. Students continue expressing their own opinions and begin to say and write more complex sentences giving both reasons for their opinions and further information such as examples.

Unit 8: Media

The cognitive demands of this unit in relation to vocabulary acquisition are minimal as many of the vocabulary items are cognates or near cognates. Therefore, we use this topic to practise giving and understanding opinions, speaking strategies and written passages to build confidence and fluency and to continue to practise using the past tense(s). Students learn how to discuss various media: film/tv/books/music/social media. Translation, as in all units, is interleaved throughout, facilitating grammatical competency and linguistic understanding.

Unit 9 – Relationships, marriage, celebrations and music

This unit links directly to theme 1 of the GCSE course and builds on many of the skills gained in previous units, for example manipulation of regular and irregular key verbs, different tenses and fancy opinions. We add to the Universals (high-frequency chunks and structures and key opinion phrases) and use these building blocks to discuss relationships, marriage, festivals, celebrations and music. The skill of narration, introduced in Unit 2, is developed here, so that students can discuss what they did to celebrate their birthday or another special occasion. Students are exposed to a wide variety of passive resources which allow them to practise their reading and listening skills, and we interleave vocabulary from prior topics e.g. sports and health.

Key Stage Four follows on from Key Stage Three – the nature of language learning means that the most effective way to teach and learn is to build on and develop prior knowledge, so we have designed the GCSE course to teach the essentials of learning French from day 1. Years 10 and 11 do tackle one or two more serious topics that require more maturity (for example homelessness and the environment) but the intent behind it and the key building blocks remain the same.

Autumn 1


Autumn 2 Spring 1


Spring 2


Summer 1


Summer 2


Year 10 School and Future Plans – future tense and university The world of work The environment Social issues Revision of Theme 1 and Exam Prep Revision of Theme 2 and Exam prep
Year 11 Revision of Theme 3 and Exam Prep Translation and Speaking Exam prep Exam skills and practice papers


Unit 10 – School and Future Plans

In this unit, we build on and refer back to unit 3, whilst introducing more complex future tenses to allow students to confidently manipulate three time frames with ease. Students learn about school in francophone countries and use previous learning to be able to compare and contrast the two systems. The Universals are once again a key building block for this knowledge, as are the key verbs in three time frames that we frequently reuse and recycle.

Unit 11 – The Environment and social issues

This is a passive-heavy topic in which students will practise exam style questions to hone their reading and listening comprehension skills as well as learning how to adapt what they already know to answer a question on an unknown topic. We look at global issues such as pollution and recycling and again draw on previous learning to help structure written and spoken responses to exam style stimuli. As students will have covered these topics in other lessons e.g. geography and science, there is a nice cross-curricular element to this unit. Interleaving of high frequency vocab and prior learning features as well.

Unit 12 – Revision and deepening knowledge of the vocabulary and grammatical structures in Theme 1 and Theme 2 alongside the honing of exam skills such as writing in French.

Students use this term to practise their written responses and revisit key vocabulary and grammatical structures from Themes 1 and 2, introducing more complex structures to facilitate access to the highest grades and further study at KS5 and beyond where appropriate.

Unit 13 – Revision and deepening knowledge of the vocabulary and grammatical structures in Theme 3 and the honing of Speaking skills.

Students use this term to practise their expert responses to the general conversation in the speaking exam. Using everything they have learned so far, from verbs to the subjunctive, they are able to construct responses that will score highly in the final exam as well as revising passive vocabulary along the way. Student feedback has convinced us that preparing responses to all possible questions at this point in the curriculum, rather than at the end of each topic, is a more effective way of summarising and utilising all their knowledge from the last 12 units.

Unit 14 – revision

We revise all the topics and continue to practise exam skills.

All years:

More challenging (for KS4 and very confident KS3 students):

GCSE resources (French currently, Spanish to follow)

Spanish resources:

More challenging (very confident KS3):

Co-curricular opportunities

  • French trips to Boulogne & Paris
  • (Spanish trips to follow as our cohort of Spanish students grows)
  • French & Spanish cuisine

Stretch and challenge opportunities

  • University visits to see a languages degree course in action
  • Opportunities to ‘TA’ in KS3 classes
  • French film and TV listening comprehension

Revision advice

Use the above websites to support your passive learning; in particular, you must hone your listening skills in order to be successful in the Listening component of the exam. When you revise vocabulary, make sure you listen to the terms, using websites such as Quizlet and including the audio. If you want even more challenge to prepare you for A-Level French, you can watch the French version of Newsround – ARTE Journal Junior listen to French radio, read French magazines or newspapers online.

Use the exam practise workbooks and study past papers online (https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/french-8658)

Create flashcards and mind maps and why not collaborate with your peers? Nothing can beat being tested on vocab or practising your speaking questions with a friend.  Above all, you must participate in lessons, look back over previously learned material (that’s how you remember!) and make notes to support your learning – languages only sink in if YOU are an active user of them!

Additional information

We also offer GCSEs in many home languages including but not limited to Gujarati, Polish, Turkish and Italian. If you have English as additional language or of you are fluent in more than one language, come and speak to us about sitting it as an extra GCSE in Year 11. We are happy to offer support and guidance in this and many of our past students have been very successful in achieving an extra qualification via this method.

Your teachers are here to support you and we are always happy to talk about opportunities or challenges. The languages department is a vibrant and inclusive place, which values everyone’s contribution, so come and talk to us if you have any ideas or questions.

Subject Leader/s

Mr R Patel