Learning foreign languages is increasingly important in a global economy and also has great value in terms of cultural and linguistic richness in our society, personal fulfilment and global citizenship and understanding. This Framework for teaching modern foreign languages underscores the vital importance of giving all pupils the tools to make direct and personal contact with other people and their cultures. The Framework and its associated training programme support our National Languages Strategy and will help to create language learners.
The Framework is deliberately similar to the National Literacy Strategy and theKey Stage 3 English Frameworksand attempts to build on the linguistic skills which pupils bring with them to the study of a modern language. A key feature of the Foundation Subjects strand is the emphasis it gives to the teaching of thinking skills and to assessment for learning. These help pupils to reach higher levels of attainment and become independent learners.
The Framework draws upon best practice in the schools taking part in the Pilot programme and teachers have made an important contribution to the Framework and training materials. The training programme fully reflects the integral place of MFL within the Foundation Subjects strand of the Key Stage 3 Strategy and offers teachers of MFL an opportunity to focus collaboratively on the same range of teaching and learning strategies as their colleagues in other Foundation Subjects. I hope teachers of MFL will find the Framework a valuable resource in motivating all pupils to be enthusiastic learners of modern foreign languages.
Catherine Ashton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sure Start and School Standards.
About the MFL Framework - Introduction
The Framework for teaching modern foreign languages: Years 7, 8 and 9 is the principal component within the Foundation Subjects MFL programme. This is located within the Foundation Subjects strand of the Key Stage 3 National Strategy. The Key Stage 3 Strategy is part of the Government's drive to improve standards in schools. It consists of several subject strands: English, mathematics, science, ICT, and Foundation Subjects (known originally as TLF - Teaching and learning in Foundation Subjects). Strands of work in other areas including behaviour are in hand.
In 2001 the decision was made to provide MFL with its own improvement programme, funded and delivered within the Foundation Subjects strand. The MFL Pilot - as this programme was then called - was launched in summer 2002. MFL consultants, appointed in 16 LEAs, were trained in the principles and content of the MFL Pilot and delivered this training to teachers in some 140 schools in those LEAs. Those teachers then began teaching lessons based on the Pilot to their Key Stage 3 classes in a programme designed to run from September 2002 to April 2003.
This Framework and other materials have been revised in the light of comments and suggestions from teachers and others involved in the Pilot programme, which proved extremely helpful. The help of those colleagues is gratefully acknowledged, as is that provided by key agencies including the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT) and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).
The rest of this section is designed to help teachers understand the nature and purpose of the MFL Framework, how it fits within the Key Stage 3 Strategy and how it relates to other key MFL documents, in particular the National Curriculum programme of study. The MFL Framework also forms part of the National Languages Strategy. Use of the Framework is not statutory, but Pilot schools have found it extremely helpful as a guide to strengthening MFL provision in schools and its use is recommended by the DfES.
In this and other documentation, this section will be referred to as the 'MFL Framework' to indicate that the reference is to its contents as a whole. This framework contains a set of teaching objectives set out in tables relating to each of the years of Key Stage 3. That section forms the core of this framework and its contents will be referred to as the 'Framework of objectives'. The abbreviation 'MFL' is used regularly for 'modern foreign languages'. The term 'Foundation Subjects MFL' is used to refer to the whole Key Stage 3 MFL subject Framework, training programme and training materials.
This framework contains guidance on how to use the Framework of objectives to inform planning and teaching and on issues to do with inclusion. A training programme and materials accompany this Framework and provide further guidance on its use and on teaching and learning in MFL.
What is the KS3 MFL Framework and what is it for?
The MFL Framework is the main component in Foundation Subjects MFL. It has the same purpose as other frameworks written for primary and Key Stage 3 teachers, in that it contains a structured and progressive set of teaching objectives for modern foreign languages, together with guidance on how to use them. A framework provides an overall form to which other components can be attached. The Framework for modern foreign languages does exactly that: it sets out a structure, based on the Key Stage 3 programme of study for MFL, on which the components of individual languages can be placed.
The objectives set out in the MFL Framework are intended to be at the heart of the teaching offered to the majority of pupils as they move through Key Stage 3. They define those points of language learning most likely to help pupils to extend their linguistic capacity and to progress successfully over time. Pupils need a more transparent and accessible MFL curriculum than many have received in the past. They therefore need to be aware of the MFL Framework objectives and to know that they form the backdrop and rationale to the specific language and points of language they learn.
The objectives are set out year on year and are structured so that each year of the key stage has its own character, as follows:
  • Year 7 - pupils receive a firm foundation in what will be for most their first year of foreign language learning
  • Year 8 - the objectives reflect this secure start and promote acceleration in language acquisition
  • Year 9 - the objectives are designed to promote pupils' independence as language learners
Within this overall intent, there is scope for variation: the above terms should not be taken literally. Many pupils will be carrying out some independent work in Year 7; some will need less time to master certain objectives; others will need more time and more support. But all pupils should be helped to develop the ability to carry out tasks and use resources with confidence in the MFL classroom as soon as possible, following careful modelling and guidance from the teacher. This small-scale independence can be supplemented by pupils collecting and using their own words as an extension to the language on general offer to the class. By Year 9 pupils should know what is involved in learning a language and have a range of strategies for collecting or researching new language from the sources they meet. They should be able to engage with native speakers, writers and texts of various kinds for purposes of real communication, to extract real information, or to read, listen or view for their own enjoyment.
In other words, the MFL Framework and its associated training programme are designed not merely to inform the teaching of languages but also to create language learners. Pupils working to Framework objectives should develop an understanding of what it means to learn a foreign language and of the skills and conventions of language learning. They should thus be well placed to learn other languages later.
In defining yearly objectives, the MFL Framework provides a set of expectations. It is hoped that some schools will in time move beyond the Framework. For some schools the objectives will pose a steep challenge: the Framework and the associated training programme will help these schools with guidance on how to identify and work on key objectives and by providing a focus for approaches to teaching and learning. At every stage, and for all pupils, it is the professional judgement of the teacher that will determine the pace of learning. Set against a challenging pace is the discretion to consolidate and revisit the skills that have been taught. The aim, however, is not merely coverage but thorough learning or mastery.
As the MFL Framework becomes more established it will also help teachers to track pupils' progress against the objectives and analyse reasons for difficulties.
How is the MFL Framework of Objectives structured?
The Framework of objectives is set out in section 2 as a series of tables showing objectives to be addressed in each year of Key Stage 3, under five headings:
  • Words
  • Sentences
  • Texts: reading and writing
  • Listening and speaking
  • Cultural knowledge and contact
Each strand has between five and nine objectives in each year. Year 7 has a total of 35 objectives; Years 8 and 9 each have 34. The extra objective in Year 7 (7S9) is aimed at giving pupils a stock of simple sentences very early, to build confidence and enable them to say meaningful things in the foreign language straight away.

Why were these headings chosen?

The headings were chosen to draw attention to the interrelated layers of language. Teachers are challenged to pay fresh and urgent attention to language at every level. A foreign language is more than a huge vocabulary, a phrase book, an elaborate guessing game or a dry academic discipline: to master it, pupils need command of words, sentences and text conventions as well as the skills of reading and writing that they use in other subjects. For some departments, the emphasis on words and sentences may represent a shift of focus, but early work here should give quick and lasting benefits to pupils. In some recent studies, pupils themselves have identified the need for such work. Furthermore, the objectives have been carefully mapped against those introduced in other strands of the Key Stage 3 Strategy.
The headings also reflect work taking place in the teaching of literacy in primary and secondary schools. Teachers of English and MFL have often been encouraged to work more closely together, but such cooperation has not always been clearly focused or sustained. The frameworks in these subjects now provide an opportunity and a set of tools for such collaboration. MFL teachers looking at their Framework of objectives will notice that words such as 'connective' and 'determiner' are used in objectives and examples. These are valuable concepts, familiar to English teachers and increasingly to their pupils. A glossary explaining these and other terms is included in the Appendices. This approach will also enable MFL teachers and pupils to make those comparisons between languages mentioned in the MFL programme of study and to learn from them.

What is the thinking behind the MFL Framework?
The MFL Framework and its objectives are designed to give teachers a mental map of language learning over Key Stage 3. MFL teachers and learners will already be able to engage with many aspects of the MFL Framework. There is little in the sentence-level objectives, for example, which will be unfamiliar to Year 7 pupils who have been receiving lessons built around the National Literacy Strategy. But the MFL Framework should help to refocus the attention of MFL teachers on those aspects of language learning which pupils need to master and use.
The Framework should not be seen as a dry menu of linguistics. Imaginative and creative work on poems and stories will provide opportunities for work on words and sentences. In their early English work, pupils learned about words, sounds and spellings through, for example, work with rhymes and simple drama: they can build on those skills. Pupils can also be taught to compile their own personal list of words in addition to those taught in class.
In the MFL Framework, grammar is not a separate heading. In its various aspects it supports work at:
  • word level (attributes such as gender, plural form)
  • sentence level (syntax, agreements, word order, complex sentences)
  • text level (sequencing, linking and lending coherence – that is, text grammar)
In other words, grammar is to be presented not as a separate issue but rather as a system or set of underlying operational principles that support learning about words, sentences, texts and communication.
A key function of the MFL Framework is to encourage a rethink of where the emphasis should be in language learning. The tendency to focus on pre-learned chunks of language and lists of nouns has led to difficulties among learners in putting it all together and generating new language on the basis of what they know. The MFL Framework invites some rethinking here: if teachers can give pupils practical help on issues such as the principles of sound–spelling work, making sentences of different types, important high-frequency words and, crucially, how to learn a language, this will enable pupils to learn new words (including nouns) independently and generate time in class for more complex work.