Common Ground needed for Assessing Languages in England

19. May 2016

In England, language teaching for 7-14 year old pupils has been compulsory since September 2014. The National Curriculum in England (http://tiny.cc/LangPoS) requires pupils and teachers to focus on making “substantial progress in at least one modern or ancient foreign language”. Government advice on KS2 assessment is open – pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study, but schools are invited to use their own systems to demonstrate how well learners have achieved this. Language teachers are concerned about comparability and consistency. They are keen to make the transition process from primary school to secondary school at age 11 run as smoothly as possible.

The Association for Language Learning is working with its Primary Steering Group to inform its members of the many different assessment methods available, which teachers can learn from and adapt to their own specific requirements.

Different Approaches throughout the Country

Rachel Hawkes has developed a framework linked to the new Programmes of Study, which is in use in schools across Cambridgeshire and in Sheffield. The 10 Steps Framework can be studied at: http://tiny.cc/LifeAfterLevels.

Lancashire has produced KLIPs or Key Learning in Progress for each subject to support teachers at Key Stage 2 – this is a skills ladder with clear simple statements against which a child’s progress can be assessed.

Janet Lloyd runs the Primary Languages Network in North West England. They aligned the 12

KS2 Programme of Study statements (http://tiny.cc/LangPoS) with KS2 Framework learning objectives (http://tiny.cc/KS2FrameworkLOs) to develop their own Network Assessment Tools:  www.primarylanguages.net.

County Durham’s Assessment Bank suggests what students should be able to do (e.g. read out loud seven sentences which include the days of the week and some sporting activity or distinguish the numbers 1 to 12 when listening).

Caroline Norman, Home Language Accreditation (HoLA) Project Manager at Languages Sheffield (http://tiny.cc/HoLA), uses the ASDAN Language Units created in partnership with ALL: http://tiny.cc/ASDANLangs, a programme which accredits home languages and recognises the skills of bilingual learners.

Warwick University and school partners have developed a set of resources and online training modules that focus on delivering and assessing ‘sustained progress’ at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/primarymfl.

Looking at these different approaches for measuring progression, the LANGUAGE MAGICIAN project offers a good way to find a common ground within the rather vague prevailing standards of the existing foreign language curriculum. The project aims to provide everyone with an easy-to-use, more standardised and enjoyable assessment tool. The format – a computer game – will surely find appreciative fans throughout the country and beyond, and we can hardly wait to cross the finish line of this ambitious project.

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