Using literary texts in Key Stage 3 MFL by Rachel Hawkes

With literary texts I start from the point
of view that the new programmes of study at key stage 2 and 3 represent a real opportunity
to join up language learning in a coherent 7-14 curriculum. For this to happen we need
to understand the best practice that exists starting at primary level where often learning,
not always, but often proceeds from a text, a story, a song, or a poem and the flow of
learning is text to sentence to individual words and pupils are really used to accessing
and appreciating language where they don’t understand every word or dissect every sentence.
We need to explore how this way of teaching coheres with our approach at key stage 3 where
traditionally there’s been the tendency to proceed in the other direction building from
individual word knowledge to sentence to text. And, obviously it’s not a case of choosing
one or the other but neither is it a case of giving pupils an abrupt quick gear change
on transition from key stage 2 to key stage 3. So in our approach to literary and other
authentic texts we just want to be informed by this and to borrow from the best practice
in both phases so the ways of working create a smooth line of learning across the seven
years. And, the second idea when approaching text
is in the choice of text itself, so the exemplification in the new programmes of study includes stories,
songs, poems and rhymes at key stage 2 and stories, songs, poems and letters at key stage
3. But to my mind it’s the purpose that’s important, so the stated aim to stimulate
ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture
and I feel this allows us to include any text that fulfill on any or all of these three
objectives. That may well include transcripts to video or film clips, some non-fiction texts
for example, a descriptive analysis of a painting or diary entries. It’s when our ideas and
creative expression are stimulated by a strong emotional connection or reaction to a text
that we have the maximum effect so this is for me a key element within this as well as
the overarching aim to increase learners intercultural understanding.

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