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Comparing draft GCSE MFL specifications (4)

This is the fourth post about the draft MFL GCSE specifications, the first looked at the AQA specification in some detail, whilst the second and third examined aspects of the mark schemes (Foundation Speaking and Higher Writing), making comparisons between awarding bodies (exam boards).

In this post I'm going to compare the subject content of the four boards. To my mind this is the least interesting area to compare, since the three general strands imposed by DfE/Ofqual are the same across the boards.

They are:

  • Identity and culture 
  • Local, national, international and global areas of interest
  • Current and future study and employment 

However, individual boards do have some freedom to choose within these strands. In addition, I always feel that the language is the core of any specification and much of it is transferable across subject matter. Teachers have some freedom in the classroom to teach what they like as long as the language is transferable. I wonder if some forget this.

This is how each board lays out its major themes, followed by the sub-themes or topics within each theme:


Identity and culture 

Me, my family and friends
Relationships with family and friends
Technology in everyday life
Social media
Mobile technology
Free-time activities
Cinema and TV
Food and eating out
Customs and festivals in French-speaking countries/communities

Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Home, town, neighbourhood and region
Social issues
Charity/voluntary work
Healthy/unhealthy living
Global issues
The environment
Travel and tourism

Current and future study and employment 

My studies
Life at school/college
Education post-16
Career choices and ambitions

Pearson Edexcel

Pearson are the only board not to use the precise nomenclature of the themes handed down from DfE/Ofqual.

Identity and culture

Who am I?: relationships; when I was younger; what my friends and family are like; what makes a good friend; interests; socialising with friends and family; role models
Daily life: customs and everyday life; food and drink; shopping; social media and technology (use of, advantages and disadvantages)
Cultural life: celebrations and festivals; reading; music; sport; film and television

Local area, holiday, travel

Holidays: preferences, experiences and destinations
Travel and tourist transactions: travel and accommodation; asking for help and dealing with problems; directions; eating out; shopping
Town, region and country: weather; places to see; things to do


What school is like: school types; school day; subjects; rules and pressures; celebrating success
School activities: school trips, events and exchange

Future aspirations, study and work

Using languages beyond the classroom: forming relationships; travel; employment
Ambitions: further study; volunteering; training
Work: jobs, careers and professions

International and global dimension

Bringing the world together: sports events; music events; campaigns and good causes
Environmental issues: being ‘green’; access to natural resources


Identity and culture 

Personal identity within the context of family, friends and the wider community
Relationships and family activities
Friendships and social groups
Youth culture, leisure activities (sport, music, hobbies) and use of technology
Typical lifestyles, daily routines and activities, food preparation and mealtimes, holidays in home and target-language countries and cultures

Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Festivals, traditions, memorable events, sporting events in target language countries and cultures, (e.g. Le Tour de France, Karneval, La Tomatina), and global events, (e.g. the Olympics and UN world days, such as World Water Day)
Charity-related activities, initiatives such as fair trade, food miles, global poverty, fundraising events at school, in the local area and nationality
Key features and activities of a region or town in your own country and target language countries

Current and future study and employment 

Studying at school and beyond, school routine and activities, plans for after GCSEs and beyond
Preparing for work and employment, work experience, voluntary work, importance of life and language skills in the workplace
World of work, part-time jobs, school/work/life balance, jobs in the future


Identity and culture 

Youth Culture:
Self and relationships
Technology and social media
Health and lifestyle
Sport and fitness
Entertainment and leisure
Customs and Traditions 
Food and festivals

Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Travel and transport
Buying tickets
Making journeys

Holidays and tourism (home and abroad)
Characteristics of different holiday regions
Local area and tourist attractions


Current and future study and employment 

School / College Life 
School life
School subjects

Work Experience and Part-time Jobs 
Personal qualities

Jobs and Future Plans 
Job adverts

So, there you have it. Can we detect any significant differences between these offers?

I observe that the Eduqas list is briefer and less informative. Do we need to see "buying tickets" in there not far from "climate"? In addition, it seems a much more parochial list of topics compared with the others, particularly when compared with AQA and OCR. On the face of it it is a poor preparation for A-level. Is the Eduqas list just not very well thought through and prepared?

The AQA list also lacks detail but its topics cover large areas e.g. social issues, global issues, the environment. There is considerable similarity with current AS level and GCSE topics. I like the inclusion of the "worthy" issue poverty/homelessness.

OCR's list is impressive and, again, I am happy to see the inclusion of topics such as fair trade, food miles, Water Day, global poverty and fund-raising. OCR's offer appears much more grown up than Eduqas's.

Pearson's list is relatively parochial, but does include "campaigns and good causes". I am astonished that climate change does not appear whereas "access to natural resources" does.

Now, we don't know if these lists of themes and topics translate into very different examination material, but they should affect the text books which are published ion conjunction with exam boards.

From what I read here, I believe AQA and OCR have the more challenging and interesting set of topics overall, whilst Eduqas should have done better. Ofqual may yet require changes from awarding bodies. If I were them I would want some more meat from Eduqas.

Here are the links to the four specifications:


Pearson Edexcel




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