AQA has launched a new suite of Modern Foreign Languages GCSEs aimed at enabling students of all abilities to study a language - and equipping them with both the cultural and linguistic skills they need to put their chosen language to use.
The exam board has also launched a major package of resources to support language teachers with the reformed qualifications.
Draft specifications for the new French, German and Spanish GCSEs have been submitted to Ofqual for accreditation, and will be available to teach from 2016. AQA also offers GCSEs in Bengali, Chinese, Italian, Modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Polish and Urdu which it intends to redevelop for first teaching in 2017.
The new courses will help students to get to grips with the identity and culture of the countries where the languages are spoken. They will cover themes including customs and festivals – along with topics including technology and social media.
In response to a desire for teachers for a greater emphasis on transactional language, speaking exams will include a role play scenario – testing students' abilities to communicate in a real-life situation such as eating in a restaurant or booking a day out.
Judith Rowland-Jones, AQA's Head of Languages, said: "We've really listened to what teachers have to say around developing these new specifications, and I'm confident that we've developed a suite of specifications that really will promote language learning in schools and provide a great teaching and learning experience for teachers and students. We want teachers to know that we really do speak their language."
A wide range of resources is available to help teachers, including Preparing to Teach events, schemes of work with grammar resources embedded into them, lesson plans and online progress tests. AQA is also providing support and resources for teaching translation – which is a new feature of the reformed GCSE course.
Teachers who want to hear more about AQA's new language specifications can sign up for a free webinar taking place at 4 pm on Wednesday 22 April. Judith Rowland-Jones will talk through the specifications in detail and outline the wide range of help and support available to teachers from AQA.