Languages

Subject update | 19 November 2021

This feature explains the adaptations to languages exams and the contingency arrangements that the DfE and Ofqual have now confirmed for summer 2022.

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Why are changes being made?

Changes are being made to the summer 2022 exam series to take into account the impact that public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have had on teaching and learning. Please note that there will be no adjustments to exams in January 2022.

On 30 September 2021, the Department for Education and Ofqual published the outcomes of the consultation on proposed summer 2022 adaptations, including optionality and advance information. The consultation concluded that all the proposals set out in the consultation document would be implemented. This is in addition to the outcomes of the earlier consultation on non-examined assessment.

Read the consultation outcome here

How does this affect language qualifications?

Different adaptations will apply to our GCSEs, International GCSEs and A levels for languages. Please refer to the relevant qualifications below for the latest information. Adaptations do not apply to International AS and A level qualifications due to the modular nature of these qualifications.

For our GCSE language exams, the following arrangements have been confirmed for summer 2022:

Advance information (applies to all our language GCSEs)
To make exams in 2022 less daunting, students will be told in advance the topic areas that will be included in the exam papers, helping them to manage their exam preparation. This information will be issued in the spring term to help students to focus their revision time.

However, the DfE have confirmed that if the impact of the pandemic worsens, this information could be issued earlier in the academic year. We will update you on the timing of the advance information release once this has been confirmed.

In addition, the following arrangements apply to all our GCSE qualifications, with the exception of GCSE Biblical Hebrew:

Optionality
We will include an additional optional question (Question 2) in the Foundation Writing assessment to provide students with a choice of themes for this question. We will add five minutes to the Foundation Writing assessment to account for this extra optionality.

The questions with no optionality in the Writing papers (Question 1 and Question 4 in the Foundation paper; Question 3 in the Higher paper) will not cover Theme 5 – International and global dimension.

Speaking exams
As detailed in the NEA and fieldwork consultation, formal speaking tests are expected to resume in 2022 and teachers should prepare to assess Speaking in the normal way.

If public health restrictions prevent this from happening, the speaking endorsement approach adopted in 2021 will be implemented again in 2022. Teachers are therefore asked to have regard to the speaking endorsement assessment criteria throughout the year.

Vocabulary
The NEA consultation also confirmed that we will not be required to use words outside of the vocabulary lists in our assessments in 2022. Where a word from outside the vocabulary list cannot be avoided, it will be glossed. This will apply to our Listening and Reading assessments.

Support
You can find the support which we currently have available for teaching and learning in each subject by clicking on the summer 2022 support tab on the relevant subject page. This includes example questions showing the changes to the Listening, Reading and Writing papers outlined above, so you can see what they look like in practice, and a speaking endorsement resource pack to help you prepare for the Speaking contingency arrangements.

The following arrangements have been confirmed for summer 2022 for International GCSEs:

Advance information (applies to all International GCSEs with the exception of English as a Second Language)
To make exams in 2022 less daunting, students will be told in advance some of the topic areas that will be included on the exam papers, to help them manage their exam preparation. This information will be issued in the spring term to help students focus their revision time.

However, the DfE have confirmed that if the impact of the pandemic worsens, this could be issued earlier in the academic year. We will update you on the timing of the advance information release once this has been confirmed.

Speaking exams (applies to all International GCSEs which include a compulsory or optional Speaking exam)
As detailed in the NEA and fieldwork consultation, formal Speaking tests are expected to resume in 2022 and teachers should prepare to assess Speaking in the normal way. If public health restrictions prevent this from happening, the speaking endorsement approach adopted in 2021 will be implemented again in 2022. Teachers are therefore asked to have regard for the speaking endorsement assessment criteria throughout the year. 

Vocabulary (applies to International GCSEs in Chinese, French, German and Spanish)
The NEA consultation also confirmed that we will not be required to use words outside of the vocabulary lists in our assessments in 2022. Where a word from outside the vocabulary list cannot be avoided, it will be glossed. This will apply to our Listening, Reading and Writing assessments. 

Support
When May/June 2022 Support materials become available they will be posted under the course materials tab on each subject page.

For A level Modern Foreign Languages, the following arrangements have been confirmed for summer 2022:

Advance information

To make exams in 2022 less daunting, students will be told in advance some of the topic areas that will be included on the exam papers, helping them to manage their exam preparation. This information will be issued in the Spring term to help students to focus their revision time.

However, the DfE have confirmed that if the impact of the pandemic worsens, this could be issued earlier in the academic year. We will update you on the timing of the advance information release once this has been confirmed.

In the meantime, please refer to our FAQ page and our Summer 2022 support page. 

FAQ page

Summer 2022 support page

There are no adjustments and there is no advance information for the International A level examinations in May/June 2022.

Students have opportunities to sit International A level examinations in the January, May/June and October/November series. Due to the modular approach of these qualifications, we have decided the fairest and most consistent approach for students is to continue running them as a regular series.

Contingency arrangements for UK qualifications

The following information applies to centres offering UK regulated qualifications such as GCSE and A level languages. It also applies to overseas centres that are offering these qualifications. Separate advice is provided below for centres offering our international qualifications. 

On 11 November 2021, the Department for Education and Ofqual published the outcomes of the consultation on contingency arrangements for summer 2022. They have confirmed that, in the unlikely event that exams have to be cancelled in summer 2022, students’ grades would instead be determined by their teachers, using Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs ) - similar to the approach used in summer 2021. 

Read the full consultation outcome on contingency arrangements

Detailed information on how TAGs would be determined in summer 2022 will only be published if exams are cancelled. In the meantime, teachers should follow Ofqual's guidance when teaching and assessing their students throughout the year to ensure that they have gathered sufficient evidence to determine TAGs if necessary.

Read Ofqual guidance on collecting evidence

For more detailed information and support, please refer to our FAQ page and our summer 2022 support page. 

FAQ page

Summer 2022 support page

Contingency arrangements for international qualifications

The following information applies to centres offering international qualifications such as International GCSE and IAS/IAL languages. It applies to overseas centres and UK independent schools that are offering these qualifications.

For International GCSE and IAS/IAL qualifications our intention is that exams will go ahead as usual. In the exceptional circumstance that exams cannot go ahead in your country in summer 2022, students’ grades would instead be determined by using an evidence-based approach.

Centres would be expected to submit a portfolio of evidence which would then be marked and graded by us. Centres would have to submit at least one set of past papers, completed under exam conditions, as part of the portfolio. 

Detailed information on how grades would be determined in summer 2022 will only be published if exams are cancelled. In the meantime, teachers should teach and assess their students as they usually would throughout the year, keeping in mind the need  to gather a portfolio of evidence in case this should be required.

For more detailed information and support, please refer to our FAQ page and our summer 2022 support page. 

FAQ page

Summer 2022 support page

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