Background and resources for the new GCSE in French, German and Spanish
Professor Emma Marsden and Dr Rachel Hawkes played a key role in developing a new GCSE and our team was heavily involved in the evidence gathering for these changes for the panel, Ofqual, and the Awarding Organisations.
- Our work on defining a curriculum content and the need to revisit words and grammar at regular intervals has demonstrated how many words it might be realistic to learn in the given time (maximum 1,700).
- Our work on creating word lists informed by frequency has shown that it is possible to create interesting material appropriate for the age group with an approximate balance of 85 high frequency to 15% less frequent words, combined with judicious use of glossing and cognates.
- Analyses of the content of current GCSE examinations and word lists showed how far away they are from aligning with the MFL Pedagogy Review’s emphasis on a defined set of vocabulary that is heavily driven by frequency in the language.
- Analyses of the grammar content showed that content was exceptionally broad and challenging to test and measure.
We also showed that the GCSE subject content contained no real grounds for testing sound-spelling relations knowledge. This is because the skills to be tested were discrete, in contrast to the recommendations of the pedagogy review (and the Ofsted review of research) that mixed skills can be tested such as speaking and reading or listening and writing.
Our design of tests (including innovative, automatically scored online versions) has shown that it is possible to create a range of different assessment techniques for assessing vocabulary, grammar and phonics knowledge, that are operable in classrooms and by awarding bodies.
Our freely available CPD on the changes to the GCSE provided the rationales for the changes for teachers, teacher educators and others.
Our ongoing CPD provides teachers with the essential knowledge to be able to enact curricular and pedagogical development to support the new GCSE.