Getting ready for the 2024 MFL GCSE specifications

Author: Lucy Palmer
Published: 06/02/2023

To help you find them, we've put together a page of Classroom resources for the new GCSE languages curriculum. Our growing Pronunciation and phonics collection is also likely to be useful, as are our Grammar resources.

Students doing pair work

A renewed focus on grammar

While in practice it may not affect the way MFL teachers teach, with many now preferring to think in terms of lexicogrammar and language chunks, the new curriculum content involves a return to a more traditional focus on grammar, and the grammar points covered in our Mastering grammar: verbs and tenses packs are aligned to the 2024 curriculum – including the division of those points into Foundation tier and Higher tier.

The reading aloud task

Likewise, the sound–symbol correspondences (SSCs) practised in our Mastering pronunciation packs are those listed in the 2024 curriculum. The packs also contain audio recordings of complete sentences that can be used to practise reading aloud. Each set of sentences focuses on a particular SSC, and this reduces the cognitive load in simple everyday sentences such as ‘Esta es la cama de la gata’ but adds a level of challenge (and hopefully entertainment!) in tongue-twisters such as ‘Les libellules pullulent et l’hurluberlu hurle’.

It’s worth bearing in mind that reading aloud in front of the class can be daunting in your own language, let alone in a foreign language, so a good way of using the sentences could be to have students listen as a whole class and repeat in chorus, and then record themselves at home, when no one is listening, trying to get as close as they can to the original recording.

Our resource collections contain lots of 'Mind reader' and 'Trapdoor' activities, which are perfect for reading aloud in pairs or small groups. To save you searching, we've gathered them together on our page of Classroom resources for the new GCSE languages curriculum.

The dictation task

Paired dictation and group dictation activities provide great practice for both reading aloud and dictation. For instance, School subjects walking dictation is ideal for Spanish, and Peer-led writing activity includes a gapped dictation on a variety of topics for French.

The everyday sentences from our Mastering pronunciation packs can also be used to practise dictation by gapping out the key words, and many of our authentic videos for GCSE French and Spanish contain ready-made gapped sentences. Assuming there are no major changes to the themes and topics in the final versions of the specs, slide 8 of Quels sont les dangers d’Internet? (H) will be a good fit for ‘Media and technology’ for both AQA and Edexcel, while task B of Quel est ton sport préféré? (F) will be particularly suitable for AQA’s topic of ‘Free-time activities’ and Edexcel’s topic of ‘sports’.

In Spanish, task 4 of ¿Qué piensas del voluntariado? should be useful for the new Edexcel topic of ‘Equality’, while extension task 1 of ¿Qué opinas de los problemas ambientales? should be appropriate for both Edexcel’s ‘Environmental issues’ and AQA’s ‘The environment and where people live’. In these tasks, a list of the missing words is provided, but you could easily remove it to make the activity closer to the format of the new dictation question.

For a German dictation activity on the topic of 'Equality', you could use task 2 of Kinderarmut in Deutschland – zwei Kinder, zwei Welten, based on a YouTube video.

Although the exam question on dictation involves short sentences with multiple gaps, shorter isn’t always simpler, of course – it can be easier to understand a longer extract because more context is available. The technique of dictogloss is a great way of using longer texts to help students move from understanding the gist to understanding the detail, applying their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar in the process. In case you aren’t familiar with dictogloss, it involves students listening to a passage in the target language and noting down all the words that they can identify. They then to try to work out the missing words, pooling their findings in pairs and then in small groups. They listen again to correct their predictions and fill in more gaps, and this process is repeated until students have reconstructed the complete text. The audio recordings of ‘Ma journée scolaire / Mi día escolar’ and ‘Mes vacances en France / Mis vacaciones en España’ in our Mastering pronunciation packs are ideal for dictogloss activities, as are all our authentic videos for GCSE French and Spanish.

Next steps on Teachit

Between now and first teaching in 2024, we’ll be updating our Mastering vocabulary and Success at speaking packs to match the new specifications, and any new exam-focused resources that we publish will be aligned to the 2024 specs.

A shorter version of this article was first published as a newsletter in December 2022.

Lucy Palmer

Senior Content Lead at Teachit and former teacher of English as a foreign language.