Teaching secondary modern foreign languages
Teaching secondary modern foreign languages

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Teaching secondary modern foreign languages

Teaching secondary modern foreign languages


This free course, Teaching secondary modern foreign languages, will identify and explore some of the key issues around teaching modern foreign languages (MFL) in secondary schools. Engaging with these issues and debates will help you to reflect upon and develop your practice as a beginner teacher of MFL. You will also develop a greater awareness of the wider context of MFL education and how this affects teaching a language in the secondary school curriculum.

This course is based on a learner-centred approach to teaching, which is underpinned by a constructivist view of learning – the idea that students will construct knowledge and understanding for themselves as a result of classroom activities and experiences.

Now listen to an introduction to this course by its coordinator, Maria Luisa Pérez Cavana:

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Maria Luisa
Welcome to the Open Educational Resource Unit Teaching Secondary Modern Foreign Languages – Issues in Practise
I'm Maria Luisa Perez Cavana and when designing this unit I drew on my many years in MFL education as a German and Spanish teacher as well as my experience of initial teacher education.
Modern foreign languages is one of the most rewarding but also a difficult subject area to teach in a secondary school. MFL were designated not compulsory in 2004 and since then language learning has been declining in British schools. They aren't popular even though learning a foreign language lets students develop crucial cognitive and life long learning skills not only communication skills and associated strategies but also employability skills and cultural awareness. It also develops their literacy in their own mother tongue, to motivate students to learn languages that’s the challenge. For that MFL teachers need to be enthusiastic about learning, passionate about teaching languages and aware of the main issues in relation to language learning pedagogy, the wider context of MFL education and how this affects teaching a language in the secondary schools curriculum. This means we have to challenge young people’s conceptions about learning a language and do this whilst challenging our own assumptions and conceptions about language learning.
We've developed this unit for secondary MFL teachers at the beginning of their careers to help with all of these points of view. It looks at some key ideas and concepts to be used in an MFL classroom. It explores some ways in which target language can be used in an MFL classroom. It also identifies strategies to promote motivation in second language learning and creative approaches, which can enhance pupils’ experience of learning a language.
It concludes by proposing some ways to promote pupils’ use of metacognitive skills and to develop pupils to independent language learners.
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As you work through the activities you will be encouraged to record your thoughts on an idea, an issue or a reading, and how it relates to your practice. Hopefully you will have opportunities to discuss your ideas with colleagues. We therefore suggest that you use a notebook – either physical or electronic – to record your thoughts in a way in which they can easily be retrieved and revisited. If you prefer, however, you can record your ideas in response boxes within the course – in order to do this, and to retrieve your responses, you will need to enrol on the course.

This OpenLearn course is part of a collection of Open University short courses for teachers and student teachers [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .


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