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KS4 Modern Foreign Languages

At KS4, a majority of students with the potential to achieve success are guided to study a modern foreign language to GCSE level. Students follow the Edexcel GCSE course for the language they have studied at KS3: French or Spanish.

There are also opportunities for keen linguists, or students who are already fluent in a second language (such as Urdu), to pursue a second language to GCSE level.

A GCSE in a modern foreign language forms part of the English Baccalaureate qualification and is often important for university entrance in any discipline. More generally, language study helps students to develop a range of transferable skills to enable them to respond with confidence to the demands of undergraduate study and the world of work. These skills include problem-solving, active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication, relationship-building skills and collaborative problem-solving.

The MFG is lucky enough to benefit from French and Spanish language assistants, providing plenty of opportunity for students to practise speaking and listening with native speakers. Home learning is enhanced by access to online resources that allow students to practise key skills or topics and track their progress.

The GCSE tests four broad language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

In the specification followed by the current Year 11, speaking and writing are assessed through four Controlled Assessments, worth 60% of the final GCSE A*-G grade. Students focus on themes relating to media and culture, sport and leisure, travel and tourism and business, work and employment.

Listening and reading are assessed through external examinations at the end of the GCSE course and are worth 40% of the final grade. The themes studied are: out and about, customer service and transactions, personal information and future plans, education and work.


  • Unit 1: Listening examination (40 minutes, 40 marks) – 20%
  • Unit 2: Speaking controlled assessment (two recordings of 4-6 minutes, 60 marks) – 30%
  • Unit 3: Reading examination (50 minutes, 40 marks) – 20%
  • Unit 4: Writing controlled assessment (two essays of 250+ words, 60 marks) – 30%

The current Year 10 are following the new Edexcel GCSE specification, in which all skills will be assessed through examinations at the end of the course and awarded GCSE grades 9-1. Regular assessments throughout the course give students a chance to practise exam-style questions and hone their skills and exam technique.

Questions across all four language skills address a range of relevant contemporary and cultural themes, such as: identity and culture, local area, holiday and travel, school, future aspirations, study and work and international and global dimension. For listening and reading assessments, the majority of contexts are based on the culture and countries where the assessed language is spoken.


  • Paper 1: Listening examination (Higher Tier: 45 minutes, 50 marks) – 25%
  • Paper 2: Speaking examination (Higher Tier: 10-12 minutes + 12 minutes preparation time, 70 marks) – 25%
  • Paper 3: Reading examination (Higher Tier: 60 minutes, 50 marks) – 25%
  • Paper 4: Writing examination (Higher Tier: 80 minutes, 60 marks) – 25%