Approaching the 40 word question for the new AQA GCSE languages exam.

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The changing of the new GCSE has brought with it lots of challenges and training students to develop their writing skills is one of those challenges. There is a much bigger emphasis on the accuracy and use of grammar in the mark scheme and this is a very difficult area to master for a lot of students. The 40 word mark scheme is relatively forgiving in that the accuracy of structures and grammar is not as prominent as in the 90 word or 150 word but students who have a range of memorised structures at their disposal will earn an easy 16 marks here.

I have therefore come up with the following scaffold for memorising structures for the 40 word question. This will also prove useful as a basis to work from for the 90 word question on the foundation paper. See fig.1 for an explanation.

40 word question scaffold
Fig.1 screenshot of the 40 word question scaffold.

I have taken each sub topic from each double page in the book. I have also taken the key structures from that section and translated them where possible (usually where you wouldn’t be able to use a dictionary) so that students can then write around 10 words per sub topic. The 40 word question looks like it will contain bullet points that are simply one word (e.g. amigo, cine, comida) and therefore students can practice writing these sentences, have them corrected by the teacher and learn these phrases from memory which will at least serve as a good basis from which to start. As I have said, this will also support the 90 word written question and the speaking test.

Additionally, I have asked students to upload a copy for themselves onto Google Drive, convert it to Google Docs and share it with me so that I can give them feedback in real time (see fig.2 below).

40 word question scaffold example
Fig.2 a screenshot of a student’s work with my feedback on the right hand side.

Below is a link to download a copy of the 40 word scaffold I have created, please feel free to use, loose or abuse.

40 word question topic scaffold


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