Assessment in secondary modern foreign languages
Assessment in secondary modern foreign languages

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1.2 External assessment

In addition to monitoring and assessing students to support their development as good language learners, students will also need to make progress according to external criteria. These include any statutory curriculum requirements and national examinations such as GCSE and A levels. Curriculum requirements differ from nation to nation, along with the criteria against which pupils’ progress is measured, but schools need to find a way of monitoring and assessing students to demonstrate fulfilment of these.

For example, the National Curriculum guidance for England, introduced in 2013, states that MFL teaching should enable pupils to ‘to understand and communicate personal and factual information that goes beyond their immediate needs and interests, developing and justifying points of view in speech and writing, with increased spontaneity, independence and accuracy.’ It sees progress in terms of grammar, vocabulary and linguistic competence, which includes initiating and developing conversations, expressing ideas and coping with unfamiliar language. ‘Linguistic competence’ refers to competence in speaking, listening, reading and writing (the four skills).

Activity 1

Timing: Allow about 1 hour

Consider how external or statutory examinations assess language learning in a school context that you know of. In your opinion, to what extent do the criteria allow pupils to demonstrate all aspects of the good language learner as defined by Grenfell and Harris? Make a note of your thoughts.

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