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SMSC in Modern Foreign Languages

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education is a natural focus of MFL.

People, their relationships and their interactions with others are an intrinsic part of what we teach, and the cultural immersion of learning a language cannot be avoided.

In MFL, we give our students an opportunity to both consider the needs and experiences of people of other cultures, and reflect upon their own response to this.

We also encourage students to discover, discuss and debate unfamiliar lifestyles, global events, problems and changes.

Finally, SMSC is not confined to the MFL classroom – we hope that the study of languages will positively affect our students’ lives and their understanding of the world around them. We also teach them how to behave in general situations such as expressing their opinions, taking part in job interviews… which will prepare them to live a full life in modern Britain

In terms of current uptake of languages we have all year 7 studying French, most of year 8 studying both French and Spanish, we have 23 students in y9 studying French and 14 studying Spanish. We have 6 students in year 11 studying GCSE French, 3 students in Year 10 studying GCSE French, 6 students in Year 11 studying GCSE Spanish .


Spiritual Development

Faith and spiritualism play an important part in any society, whether in a religious or secular sense. In MFL at SRA, pupils are encouraged to consider this in the study of each of our languages, namely French and Spanish, but also Latin.


All years: Students  are encouraged to explore Catholic/Christian/Muslim religious and Pagan celebrations and festivals in target language countries and reflect on their meaning and significance.

GCSE: We explore in more depth, the role that the Muslim faith now plays within French and Francophone societies, and the affect that this has on the country’s politics and society e.g. the recent educational debate about the wearing of the veil in schools.


GCSE: Students learn about and reflect upon the development of a sense of identity, self-worth, personal insight, meaning and purpose in a country divided by language, culture and tradition. They learn about communities’ needs to be recognized as autonomous states, such as the Basque or Catalan regions.

Beyond the classroom

During trips to target language countries, students from all school years can visit the Christmas market in Lille and are told about different traditions and the regional cult of St Nicolas for example. We are pleased to run 2 new residential trips this year, one to Barcelona and one to Paris


Moral Development

Value systems in other cultures

Moral development in MFL at SRA enables students to build a framework of moral values which regulates their personal behaviour. It is also about the development of understanding of society’s shared and agreed values. Moral development in MFL is also about students gaining an understanding of the range of views and the reasons for the range. It is also about developing an opinion about the different views. In our language studies they explore and analyse appropriate texts which furnish them with the knowledge and ability to question and reason, which enable them to develop their own value system and to make reasonable decisions on matters of personal integrity.

“Right and wrong”

Students develop an awareness that life throws up situations where what is right or wrong is not universally agreed. Authentic target language texts are selected that extend students’ ideas and their moral and emotional understanding in line with the school’s ethos.

Developing a personal set of values

Through reflection on texts, pupils express informed personal opinions. Students learn to articulate their own attitudes and values through being provided with opportunities to discuss matters of personal concern, related to books, films and texts read in class. They are given, particularly in the Sixth Form, opportunities to talk for a range of purposes including exploration and hypothesis, consideration of ideas, argument, debate and persuasion. In discussion they are encouraged to take different views into account and construct persuasive arguments

All years: As part of Black History month, all students are encouraged to pick a personality from a French/Spanish speaking country and write their biography. Y7 will introduce them, say where they come from, where they live..Y8 will look at the food they eat and express an opinion to whether this is good for your health or not. In Y9 students begin to discuss the actions necessary to be success caretakers of our planet. They also explore and discuss ‘fair trade’ business, particularly relating to ex-colonies of target language countries.

They explore and compare relationships between friends and family members as well as between societies of different cultures and backgrounds.

GCSE: Students begin to discuss the rights and responsibilities of young people in their capacity as global citizens. They also explore and discuss voluntary work and related social issues. Students are encouraged to investigate the impact of drugs and alcohol on young peoples’ lives and society as a whole. Environmental issues and consequences are discussed and considered in greater detail.

Beyond the classroom

During trips to the target language countries students can visit war memorials in France or Belgium

Inside and outside of the classroom students can appreciate and discuss the contribution of the leisure, travel and tourism sector to different national economies, and furthermore they have the tools to explore and discuss the sustainable development of tourist attractions/regions.


Social Development

Learning to live

Within the MFL department we promote social development as a means of young people working effectively with each other and participating successfully in the community as a whole. It is about the development of the skills and personal qualities necessary for living and working together. It is about functioning effectively in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, or in modern Britain.

This includes understanding people as well as understanding society’s institutions, structures and characteristics, economic and political principles and organisations, roles and responsibilities and life as a citizen, parent or worker in a community. It also involves the development of the inter-personal skills necessary for successful relationships.  


We achieve the above by encouraging our students to (the depth in which we study each theme is dependent on the stage of language acquisition and therefore vocabulary at their disposal):

  • explore racism, segregation and prejudice in the target language countries
  • explore healthy lifestyles and refer to the negative impact of smoking, alcohol or drug abuse
  • discuss the pros and cons of marriage and cohabitation
  • discuss the right to vote and about age of consent for various rights
  • explore marginalisation and social exclusion i.e. unemployment and homelessness

To achieve all of the above, students learn in a safe environment conducive to collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

Beyond the classroom

 With the emergence and development of e-mail and social networking, students are able to maintain constant contact and versatile contact with both school peers and foreign pen-friends.


Cultural Development

Local, National and Global Cultures

Cultural development in MFL is about our students understanding their own culture and other cultures in St Albans and in Britain as a country as a whole.

It is also about:

  • understanding cultures represented in Europe and elsewhere in the world
  • understanding and feeling comfortable in a variety of cultures
  • being able to operate in the emerging world culture of shared experiences provided by television, travel and the internet
  • understanding that cultures are always changing and coping with change.
  • ensuring we value our cultural diversity and in our efforts to prevent racism
  • breaking through linguistic and cultural barriers
  • reflecting on how different cultures are portrayed in their text books and in various authentic resources from magazines, newspapers, flyers and on the internet.

Beyond the classroom

Visits to target language countries and links with schools in target language countries have been established and are open to all students, not just those studying MFL.

We not only encourage an appreciation of the culture and society of target language countries and communities through organised trips overseas, but also through school-based yet not classroom-based discovery sessions such as cookery and our Twitter account.

Through this, we aim to make our students understand the meaning, nature and value of the multicultural make-up of target language countries.

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