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MFL Question Time

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On 21st June the highly acclaimed journalist, broadcaster  and BB Presenter, David Dimbleby hosted MFL Question Time for Languagenut, a panel discussion with a focus on teachers of Modern Foreign Languages.

The aim of the broadcast was to reflect on the challenges of the last year, particularly those faced by teachers; what they have learned, to celebrate what schools and students have learned and to use those experiences to make positive recommendations for the future.

Mr Dimbleby, chaired the panel of experts which included Dr Rachel Hawkes, Co-Director of NCELP, Director of International Education & Research at Comberton Academy Trust, former President of ALL, and the author of several language textbooks, including the extremely successful Viva and Stimmt series; Helen Myers MBE, Trustee and former President of ALL, Chair of ALL London branch, and former Assistant Head at Ashcombe School; Gillian Campbell-Thow, Quality Improvement Officer for Glasgow City Council and strategic lead for Language Learning & Teaching and Gaelic Medium Education. Associate teaching fellow of Strathclyde University and former Chair of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching (SALT), Dominic Mott, Former Head of MFL and currently Head of Senior School at Hurstpierpoint College and Valle Fernández, Head of Spanish and Lead Practitioner for International Languages at the Central South Consortium in Wales. Experienced A Level examiner for WJEC.

The panel used their range of experiences and perspectives to answer questions submitted by audience members, who were language Heads from many schools, both in the Independent and state sectors. Mme Henson, Head of MFL at Stoke College represented the school.

Mme Henson’s question, on behalf of Stoke was, “Languages should be a gateway to other cultures so should we alter the themes at GCSE to make them relevant to teenagers to gain their interest?” 

Mme Henson commented, “It was a very interesting discussion indeed. The panel discussed themes such as how can we, as MFL teachers, address Brexit and globalisation, in terms of motivating students to learn languages. The debate covered how we can encourage uptake of students studying languages at A Level when the exams are incredibly challenging, how do we can convince people that only speaking English is not enough if we wish to be a successful nation and the idea that the curriculum needs to be age relevant.”

The panel agreed that foreign language trips are an excellent way to inspire students to consider taking languages at GCSE and A Level. Mme Henson went on to say, “Stoke has an incredible forecast list of trips planned for 2022. We also have, in relation to our size, a very strong language department, committed to inspiring students to learn one or more foreign languages. Testament to this passion is the high number of students learning a foreign language at Stoke.”

Stoke College will be holding Open events on 18th September and 13th October and private visits for families interested in sending their children to the school by arrangement.