An alternative assessment framework for MFL – your comments please!

Calling all teachers and ITE tutors! We would love you to send us your comments on our first draft of an alternative assessment framework for MFL teachers. Our research suggests that the current NC levels of attainment at KS3 for MFL are no longer adequate and may be contributing to the problems that teachers are facing in language teaching. This framework is being drafted to work alongside our eight research-based principles of teaching and learning, as a solution to the problem. It is intended for use at Key Stages 3 & 4. It will be redrafted once comments have been received – please take a look at it and comment below or send us your thoughts to

Draft Introduction, Reading and Listening framework – PDF format

Draft Speaking and Writing framework – PDF format

Or if you prefer to view them in Word:

Draft Introduction, Reading and Listening Framework – Word format

Draft Speaking and Writing Framework – Word format


Filed under Uncategorized

15 responses to “An alternative assessment framework for MFL – your comments please!

  1. Annalise Adam

    The framework makes more sense to me than the current NC level descriptors, particularly where it refers to vocabulary encountered in previous years of study. One of the weaknesses of some of the current mfl resources which are widely used in school is that there is insufficient recycling of previous vocabulary. However, although the level descriptors make sense to me, it would have to be made explicit to pupils that these are not NC levels or GCSE equivalents, otherwise they could feel cheated by “only” achieving level 5.

  2. Theresa McGarrick

    Hi PDC in MFL – my comments on the framework are :
    I like the way in which Reading and Listening and Speaking and Writing are linked really clearly. Could all the strands be combined on one sheet so students can see how they are progressing holistically?
    The level descriptors contain a lot of very specific ideas as to how a student might achieve each level. The success criteria for each level are very clear. But there is a LOT of text in each box. I found it a bit overwhelming at first, to be honest!
    In general I found ready the proposed framework very interesting. I suppose it is inevitable to draw comparisons with the National Curriculum level descriptors, but the ones you are proposing certainly highlight much clearer success criteria for language learning and are therefore of more use to both students and teachers. However, I feel that as they stand they need some adjustment in order to make them more “user friendly”. Maybe two versions would be useful – one for teachers, one for students? We seem to be constantly trying to explain NC levels in pupil friendly language, so to have this thought out in advance would be amazing!

    • Thanks Theresa! Really like your idea of a ‘One Sheet’ strand summary! Having a different version for students would save departments a lot of work rewriting the criteria for students, which is what a lot of them currently do. It would also be much more consistent. Great idea! Keep your comments coming!

  3. As previous commentators said, this suggested alternative looks interesting as it links the two “productive” skills and the two “receptive” skills giving a lot of details re success criteria and taking into account how students learn. My question, before investing a lot more time into getting to grips with this, is:
    how likely is it that the government will take on this alternative system?
    Considering the amount of work involved in assessing students’ learning continuously as well as terminally is immense and adding another system in parallel is unworkable and totally confusing for staff and students.

    • Lucy Beharrell

      Hi Volker, thanks for your comments on the framework. Your question is a valid one. Once the framework has been properly trialled in schools that we are working with, we will offer it to the Department for Education for consideration. We cannot guarantee that it will be adopted and we certainly would not expect teachers to adopt two systems. However as a community of practice we do need to make the effort to influence civil servants and politicians, so that systems are not just imposed up on us. That is also why we are so keen to get feedback on what we are doing
      from people such as yourself. Kind regards, Lucy

  4. Julia Parker

    Given the fact that in most schools students have only a couple of lessons of language per week I think a lot of students would be ‘stuck’ on the same level for a long period of time and this would be demotivating for them. It could also result in accusations from SMT that students are not making enough progress (in the current age of obsession with progress!). I think there should be more levels of achievement.

  5. Sam Attwood

    I am so pleased to have found this proposal and will be revising our assessment ‘grid’ in the new year. I agree with Julia that perhaps more incremental stages would be helpful and may indeed start with a simple idea inspired by your descriptors but labelled up to 10 e.g level 1 = just level 1 descriptor level 2 is confident ‘1’ and so on. We will also add a column for sample language linked to the sows. We too struggle to acknowledge breadth of language/vocabulary so I particularly like the idea of a scale or number of words to acknowledge this. Often we come off badly compared to core subjects so a ‘higher’ number and more increments to diminish the stumbling block of tenses would really help motivation. Keen to be involved in future pilots!

    • Lucy Beharrell

      Hi Sam, thanks for your comments, and we’re really pleased that you can use the draft framework when revising your assessment grid. Would you like me to send you the updated drafts with a view to piloting the framework this term? Thanks, Lucy

  6. It is a great idea to rethink the current assessment framework : I love the subtitles eg. a beginner communicator, an experimenting communicator etc. However, I feel KS 3/4 must be a follow-on from KS2 where languages will very likely become compulsory in 2014. If pupils carry on the same language between Y6 and Y7, then they will be arriving at KS3 already at Level 2/3 ( hopefully confident beginner communicators with some experimenters!). However if pupils change languages, then they will return to Level 1 but should rise more quickly through the levels. A greater number of shallower levels (as suggested above) would help to give a greater feeling of progress from KS2 to KS4. Levels 1-3/4 (of maybe 10 levels) could be expressed more simply to be more usable in KS2.
    Do you also have it in mind to assess knowledge about language and learning strategies as these are so useful for pupils to employ when comparing with English or changing to a new language?.

    • Lucy Beharrell

      Thanks for your comments. We are certainly keeping language learning at KS2 in mind while we go about drafting this alternative framework for assessment. However as a pilot we have decided to focus on KS3 for now, being able to rely on the fact that the majority of language learners are starting from scratch when they start Year 7. Given the three year limitation of KS3 we therefore think that 5 levels work well, although I appreciate your point that you might need to reevaluate this if KS2 did form a compulsory part of the languages NC. We haven’t specified any type of testing to assess students’ use of learning strategies, and I wondered if you had any suggestions? We’d love to hear them! If you’d like a copy of the most recently revised version of the assessment framework, please let me know. Best wishes, Lucy

      • *Message for Lucy Beharrell.* * * Hi Lucy, * * I’m not sure if its best to comment as an email or inside your site?

        Re KS2 language learners: by 2010 well over 80% of KS2 were studying a language : in some counties ( eg Norfolk) this was nearer 100%. Although some of this will have fallen by the wayside, it is rapidly picking up again so I think you’ll find that the majority of Y7 are definitely not starting from scratch!

        re. assessment for learning stratggies and knowledge about language: I am actually working on this with Peter Downes as part of his Discovering Language initiative, as we see an end of Y6 assessment in these skills would be very useful for Y7 , especially if feeder schools have learnt a variety of languages. Perhaps we can keep in touch about this?

        Best regards, Joan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s