Of the ‘curse’ of tense-driven progression in MFL learning

The Language Gym

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For too many years the UK National Curriculum posited the ‘mastery’ of tenses as the main criteria for progression along the MFL proficiency continuum. A learner would be on Level 4 if s/he mastered one tense + opinions, on Level 5 if s/he mastered two, etc. This preposterous approach to the benchmarking of language proficiency has always baffled me and has caused enormous damage to MFL education in the UK for nearly two decades. Not surprisingly I felt relieved when the current British government ‘scrapped’ the National Curriculum Levels. Sadly, this approach to progression is so embedded in much UK teaching curriculum design and practice that it will be very difficult to uproot, especially considering that some Examination boards still place too much emphasis on tenses in their assessment of GCSE examination performance.

But why am I so anti- tense-driven progression? There are two main reasons why. First and foremost…

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