In her post on Inquiry and Maths in December, Jenny made reference to the struggle we had been having with how to teach MFL through an inquiry learning approach. I have been very lucky, over the past few months, to work with colleagues in the French department who are very keen to make inquiry work for their pupils, and who are not scared to try new things out and then use that as a basis for improving what we do. The need to develop units for delivery within the MYP has been a great motivator, and FOSIL has helped us to create an inquiry that ticks both MYP skills and assessment boxes. Julie, one of the French teachers who is also the Senior Lead Practitioner in school, intends to post her thoughts on this inquiry (including feedback from the teachers involved in the delivery), so I will limit this post to a brief description of what we did and the resources developed.
Year 8 pupils were asked to consider whether, given that Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, it would be high on their list of places to visit. The CONNECT stage asked them to think not just about what they already knew about Paris, but also what attracts them to new places, so that they might consider whether Paris would tick all, or any, of those boxes. After an initial WONDER about what sorts of questions they might need to ask about six topic areas – ones we knew we could resource (Monuments; Museums & Art Galleries; Cafés, Bars & Restaurants; Shops & Markets; Parks & Gardens; and Children’s Attractions) – pupils were split into groups to WONDER in more detail and then INVESTIGATE their chosen/assigned topic. Initial investigation work was done with print resources – both French and English – before moving onto a selection of recommended websites (again in both languages) to answer some quite specific questions they had, and the inevitable ‘Googling’ when all else failed or they ran out of steam! A prep task asked them to bring together reasons why Paris might and might not be top of their list of places to visit – to CONSTRUCT a reasoned response – which they could then hand in as evidence of their work in the first (English) part of the inquiry.
This work then formed the background needed for pupils to plan a guided tour of Paris which they would deliver in French to some of their classmates who were filming it on iPads. These same classmates were tasked with providing feedback on the outcome. The filmed guided tour, along with the written scripts, fulfilled the assessment role for this part of the inquiry – a speaking assessment being one of the main desired outcomes from the outset.
As I said, more to follow on the successes and shortcomings of this inquiry, but if you have any experience of inquiry learning within MFL, I would love to hear your thoughts on what works well. I am really keen for ideas regarding how to teach pupils who have little or no previous knowledge of the language they are learning through this approach.
[All the resources for this inquiry are available here.]