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Modern Foreign Languages

Welcome to our MFL section

Welcome to the MFL Department.


Learning Spanish at St John Henry Newman Catholic School is the beginning of a fascinating and rewarding journey into Spanish language and culture. Spanish is studied from Years 7-11 and is compulsory at KS3. Within these pages you will find lots of information about the subject and how the department operates.

KS4 is offered as an option subject and with the introduction of the Ebacc certificate, is now a popular choice among pupils of all abilities. A high number of pupils are actively encouraged to study the subject.

Katy Woodman

Head of MFL

Language learning can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences. Through learning languages, we can learn the skills to socialise, work as a team, communicate effectively, be confident and show flexibility. These are all skills which employers look for. When applying for jobs, if you can speak a foreign language, you are much more likely to be successful and get the job you have always dreamed of.





Mrs K Woodman – Head of Department

Mr D McArdle Deputy Headteacher, Teacher of Spanish

Miss K Mounsey – Teacher of Spanish

Key Stage 3

Pupils learn the skills necessary to communicate in Spanish. We use the target language as much as possible from the very start of Year 7 in order to immerse pupils in language learning and to teach them to enjoy the challenge of learning languages. This builds resilient and confident linguists, who are able to communicate effectively in the wider world. We strongly believe that learning foreign languages is a skill which is truly accessible to everyone, no matter their starting point or their level of ability: after all, everyone already speaks at least one language fluently and many of our Pupils speak another language at home.

We follow a course loosely based on the Pearson “Viva” textbooks and all KS3 content has been created by the MFL staff, using knowledge and expertise gained from CPD sessions led by Dr Gianfranco Conti. Pupils have two hours of Spanish a week. Lessons are planned to start to build the necessary skills for the GCSE exam, as well as incorporating fun and interactive activities, in order to give pupils a good grasp of the language. All four skills are developed (listening, speaking, reading and writing) through a variety of activities. Throughout their years studying Spanish at St John Henry Newman Catholic School, pupils are not only learning the language, but they are also introduced to the culture and history of Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Our curriculum starts by focusing on two key verbs: to have (tener) and to be (ser and estar), enabling pupils to make connections between the English grammar previously learnt at primary school and apply it to a new context. We slowly build up pupils’ vocabulary alongside this, focusing initially on pupils’ own home lives and gradually moving outwards, introducing pupils to the wider Spanish-speaking world. 

In the first unit of work in Year 7 , pupils will: learn how to greet each other in Spanish, how to introduce themselves; how to use the Spanish alphabet and how to understand the key sounds; numbers 1-31; the days of the week and months of the year; how to say when their birthdays are; how to say what is in their school bags and how to understand classroom instructions.

In their second unit of work, pupils will then: move on to describing their family members; they will learn bigger numbers; learn how to describe hair, eyes, and other physical features; learn how to describe people’s personalities and how to talk about pets, revisiting adjectives seen in the first unit while introducing more complex ones. We will then move onto learning about free time where pupils will be able to: say what they like to do in their free time; say what they normally do or don’t do; learn how to describe the weather; learn how to say what they do depending on the weather and finally what sports they do and what they think of sports.

The final unit of work in Year 7 is all about school and pupils will learn: how to say which subjects they do and don’t do; how to express opinions on subjects and teachers; how to say what they eat and drink at break/lunchtime; how to describe their timetables using time in Spanish; how to describe the facilities in their school and finally how to give opinions on school. We will include phrases such as “me gustaría tener”, in all units of work so that pupils are aware of more complex phrases right from the start of Year 7.

In Year 8 we extend pupils’ grammatical knowledge by teaching units centred on holidays, hobbies and free time, including making arrangements for going out. This enables pupils to use the past and future tenses. We finish by using the film Zipi y Zape y la isla del capitán to introduce pupils to Spanish cinema as an area of study. 

In the first unit of work in Year 8, pupils will learn how to: say where they live; how to use the verb vivir; use a wider range adjectives and adjectival agreements to describe their houses; say what is in their bedrooms, revisiting the verb hay and the phrase me gustataría tener; use more conditional tense phrases such as seria, tendría and habría to describe what their ideal houses and bedrooms would be like; understand and give directions and finally how to say what they do in their towns when, why and who with.

In the second unit of work, Year 8 pupils will learn how to: say where they normally go on holiday, who with and how they travel, using the present tense of the verbs ir and viajar; use the preterite tense to talk about holidays in the past; conjugate -AR, -ER and -IR verbs in the preterite tense to describe what they did on their holidays and to also talk about the last day of their holidays.

In the final unit of Year 8, pupils will learn how to: talk about what they use their mobile phones for, revisiting the present tense; give more detailed reasons for what they use their phones for; discuss music preferences, revisiting opinion phrases; talk about why they like/dislike watching on TV and why; discuss film preferences; make future plans, exploring the future tense in more detail; make arrangements to go out with friends and finally how to decline an invitation, giving a wide range of reasons for not being able to go out.

In Year 9 we gradually start to prepare pupils for the increased demands of the GCSE course by looking at some of the more accessible KS4 topics. We begin with the theme of school; we then move on to travel and holidays to focus on consolidating and perfecting key grammar learned in KS3 and finally we look at at personal relationships.

In the first unit of work in Year 9, pupils will revisit the school topic covered in Year 7 but in greater depth. Pupils will learn how to: say which subjects they study; express opinions on subjects; talk about their teachers; use comparatives and superlatives when discussing subjects and teachers; describe what their schools are like now in comparison to their primary settings, using the imperfect tense; describe what facilities we have and what we would like to have; compare the Spanish school system with that of the UK; talk about their school uniform; use the conditional tense to describe their ideal uniform, revisiting the verbs sería and tendría from Year 8, whilst adding in more complex phrases such as si pudiera eligir, llevaría…; state what the school rules are and give opinions on them, using the imperative; talk about school trips and exchanges, including the future tense to talk about future trips; and finally how to talk about extra-curricular activities, including the structure desde hace.

In their second unit of work, Year 9 pupils will revisit the holidays topic covered in Year 8, but in much greater depth. Pupils will learn how to: say where they normally go on holiday, who with and how they travel, using the present tense of the verbs ir and viajar; use the preterite tense to talk about holidays in the past; practice conjugating -AR, -ER and -IR verbs in the preterite tense to describe what they did on their holidays; discuss what they do depending on the weather; discuss holiday preferences and give extended reasons; use the past tense to describe what the best and worst things were about the holidays; revising the imperfect tense from the first unit; how to make hotel reservations; and finally how to describe a disastrous holiday.

In the third and final unit of Year 9, pupils will learn how to: describe their families, revisiting vocabulary from Year 7; describe what they and other people look like; describe personality traits; use present tense verbs to say what activities they do with their families; describe what they use mobile technology for and what the pros and cons are; use the present continuous to be able to say what they are doing at the moment; discuss reading preferences and the advantages and disadvantages of reading paper books as opposed to using e-readers; use ser and estar to describe others; and finally to talk about family relationships, using reflexive verbs.

There is a focus on the ability to write paragraphs unaided and develop their spoken skills. They are also encouraged to be more creative and imaginative in their use of language. Pupils are encouraged to employ a range of tenses, opinions, and connectives in written and spoken tasks with a significant focus on accuracy.

We use sentence builder booklets with the language becoming more complex as the unit moves on. This language is then replicated in other topics, thereby embedding it in pupils’ minds. Pupils learn vocabulary on a regular basis and are expected to use it for their own purposes within classwork and homework so that it becomes embedded into their longer-term memory. We also aim to provide pupils with wider cultural knowledge of Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries in order to enable pupils to develop into respectful and tolerant global citizens. 

Homework tasks are set weekly and will include a minimum of a learning task each week – pupils will be expected to learn a section of key words from their sentence builder booklets, and they will be expected to spell them correctly. We set a variety of homework tasks ranging from vocabulary learning, to writing longer texts, to online games, to translations. In the Summer term, pupils in Year 10 will be set a second piece of homework which will be a retrieval practice task, to revise some of the content studied in the Autumn and Spring terms. It is vital that Pupils regularly learn vocabulary, as it is the key to understanding the language

There is ongoing assessment and pupils are encouraged to check their own progress regularly. Pupils are also encouraged to ask for help when needed. Spanish rooms are always available to complete homework if needed.

Key Stage 4 – Years 10/11

The Spanish GCSE is a course which builds on and further develops the work and topics covered in KS3. By the end of the course, pupils should feel confident in their ability to communicate with native speakers in both speech and writing. They should also develop an awareness and understanding of the culture and identity of the countries where Spanish is spoken.

Pupils will study a range of topics under the 3 themes of:

  • Identity and Culture
  • Local, national, international, and global areas of interest
  • Current and Future Study and Employment.

In Year 10 and 11 Pupils study the use of verbs and grammatical structures in the following contexts:

  • Me, my family, and friends
  • Technology in everyday life
  • Free-time activities
  • Home, town, neighbourhood, and region
  • Social issues
  • Global issues
  • Travel and tourism
  • My studies
  • Life at school/ college
  • Education post-16
  • Jobs, career choices and ambitions

At the end of the course, pupils will have learnt to:

  • Communicate more successfully
  • Be confident when problem solving
  • Work successfully with others
  • Improve their own learning and performance
  • Deepen cultural knowledge



All four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) will be assessed at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework, rather the course is all assessed by exams. Pupils can be entered for either Foundation (grades 1-5) or Higher tier (grades 4-9) but must complete the same tier for all four skills. All exams will refer to the countries where Spanish is spoken. Exams will use authentic materials e.g. adverts, poems, literary texts, emails, and text messages.

Unit 1: Listening (25%) takes place in the May/ June exam period in Year 11

  • Pupils will listen to messages, dialogues, announcements, discussions, narratives etc. in Spanish on a digital file which has pauses to give pupils time to write their answers in English or Spanish.

Unit 2: Speaking (25%) takes place at school between April & May in Year 11

  • Pupils will have to complete 3 tasks in their speaking test. Firstly, they will have to take part in a role play scenario, where they will have to ask and answer questions. Secondly, they will have to discuss a photo card and answer related questions. Thirdly, they will have to take part in a conversation, partly prepared in advance and partly unprepared.

Unit 3: Reading (25%) takes place in the May/June exam period in Year 11

  • Pupils will read messages, dialogues, announcements, discussions, narratives etc. in Spanish and will have to answer questions in English and Spanish. Pupils will also have to translate a short text from Spanish into English.

Unit 4: Writing (25%) takes place in the May/ June exam period in Year 11

  • Pupils will have to respond in Spanish to a range of written tasks. Their knowledge of (and accurate application of) grammar and structures will be assessed. Part of the writing paper is a translation into Spanish.

Dictionaries are not permitted in any of the Spanish exams.

Progression and Future Careers

Studying Spanish will provide pupils with an enviable skill. It will benefit them when they come into contact with Spanish-speaking people both at home and abroad. It is an excellent subject to combine with all A Level courses. Universities look favourably on pupils who have a GCSE in languages. Future careers are wide ranging: business, marketing, teaching, translating, journalism, diplomatic services, travel and tourism, sport, and many more. We look at Careers at least once a half term in our Spanish lessons. Staff share their Language Journeys with pupils in Year 7 and refer to it where possible.

Exam information

Exam title: GCSE Spanish

Exam board: AQA

Key Stage 5

Key Stage 5 – Years 12/13

The Spanish A Level is a course which builds on and further develops the work and topics covered in KS3 and KS4. A Level Spanish is ideal for students who are looking at developing their linguistic competencies as well as their understanding of historical, political and cultural events, changes and developments throughout recent history up until the current day. Learning Spanish will provide students with the opportunity to work and travel in Europe, Central and South America, and other Spanish-speaking countries. Through learning the language, they will be able to access the Spanish and Latin American cultures, which are rich in areas such as dance and literature. Language skills alone are already an advantage in potential employers’ eyes, but Spanish even more so, as it’s so widely spoken. Many British and American companies conduct business in Spanish-speaking countries, and with over 30 million Spanish speakers in the US alone, it’s a great skill to have if you’re looking to work abroad.


Students will study a range of topics under the three core strands of:

  • Social issues and trends
  • Political and artistic culture
  • Grammar



In Year 12, we will explore the themes of:

  • Traditional and modern values
  • Cyberspace
  • The equality of the sexes
  • The influence of idols
  • Regional identity in Spain
  • Cultural patrimony

In Year 13, we will explore the themes of:

  • Immigration
  • Racism
  • Coexistence
  • Young people of today, citizens of tomorrow
  • Monarchies and dictators
  • Popular movements

In addition, a book and a film are studied over the course of the two years. Popular choices of books are La casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca and Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Popular film choices are El laberinto del fauno and Volver.



All four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) will be assessed at the end of Year 13. All exams will refer to the countries where Spanish is spoken. Exams will use authentic materials e.g. adverts, poems, literary texts, emails, and text messages. There will also be questions about the film and book studied during the two year course.

Paper 1: Listening, reading and writing

  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 100 marks
  • 50% of A level

Paper 2: Writing

  • Written exam: 2 hours
  • 80 marks
  • 20% of A level

Paper 3: Speaking

  • How it’s assessed:
  • Oral exam: 21-23 minutes (including 5 minutes preparation time)
  • 60 marks
  • 30% of A level
  • Questions
  • Discussion of a sub-theme with the discussion based on a stimulus card (5-6 minutes). The student studies the card for 5 minutes at the start of the test (25 marks).
  • Presentation (2 minutes) and discussion (9-10 minutes) of individual research project (35 marks).


Course - A Level Spanish

Board - AQA    

Specification -7692   

Website -

The course is jointly taught by Mrs K Woodman (Head of MFL) and Mr D McArdle (Deputy Headteacher).

Barcelona Trip

Spain Trip

The Barcelona trip is open to Year 8, 9 and 10. It is a 7 day trip visiting tourist sites, historical sites and attractions. It is a great opportunity for the pupils to experience Spanish culture and to practice their Spanish with native speakers. And have course, have fun! The week consists of trips to The Barcelona Football Stadium – Camp Nou and the world famous, ‘still in construction’, cathedral designed by Gaudí over 100 years ago - La Sagrada Familia. The pupils get the chance to visit inside both of these amazing attractions. We also visit Poble Espanyol, an open-air museum show casing many different areas of Spain and their traditions in one place. Here the pupils will get the chance to try some authentic Spanish cuisine. Finally, we also visit a waterpark and a theme park with swimming pool, slides, animal shows, rollercoasters and the chance to have a photo taken with dolphins! We usually stay near the beach so spend the evenings playing some games and relaxing there too. It’s a great opportunity and an exciting trip for everyone involved.

Our next trip will be arranged Post Covid

Activities within the Department


For the last three years Spanglovision has been an integral part of our European Day of Languages celebrations. All year 7 forms are given a song to learn in Spanish which they practice in their Spanish lessons and during form time. A music video is then recorded of them and their form tutor performing their song (with props and dance routines if they want!).  The videos are then shown to the whole school in assemblies in the run up to European Day of Languages. Everyone casts their vote for their favourite performance. The winner is announced in Year 7 assembly and the winning group get a trophy and prizes for the whole form.

Advice for Parents

Any additional exposure and access to Spanish language and culture is very warmly welcomed. Streaming services such as Netflix have a wide range of foreign language TV programmes and films for the whole family to enjoy. We recommend watching with Spanish audio and English subtitles. Please ask your Spanish teacher for suggestions!

Listening to Spanish radio stations online or following Spanish language social media accounts can also be useful.

Pupils have regular vocabulary tests, and these vocabulary lists are available online on Class Charts as part of your child’s current sentence builder booklet.

We use Blooket, Kahoot! and Quizlet for some of vocabulary challenges and these can also be downloaded as an app onto pupils’ phones or tablets or can be accessed through a web browser. We have found that  is a highly effective way of learning vocabulary. Duolingo is another useful site for vocabulary learning.

It is useful for pupils to have access to a Spanish-English dictionary at home. The book form is preferable, but it is not essential for pupils to purchase their own copies. There are excellent online dictionaries available too, such as Please do not encourage your child to use online translators such as Google Translate. These are not effective tools and are in fact detrimental to your child’s language learning. Any homework completed using a translator will not be marked and will have to be rewritten, since it is not the child’s own work.

We recommend the Pearson and CGP revision guides if pupils require some additional support with learning vocabulary and grammar.

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