MFL Baseline assessment


One of the major challenges facing secondary language teachers is the range of experiences which pupils bring with them at the start of year 7. In spite of the increase in Key Stage 2 MFL provision, a series of changes in government policy means that some pupils have had a solid introduction to one language, some have studied several and many have had no language lessons at all. The prior language-learning experiences of any secondary school's intake vary tremendously and this combined with a lack of consistent data makes establishing a baseline almost impossible. Our non-language-specific intake assessment, which you are welcome to use, is based on the strands of the Key Stage 2 Framework for Languages, and is explained below.


Section 1

Listening for sounds and spellings

The video below, adapted from CILT materials, accompanies this section. Pupils hear a sound (phoneme) on its own and then a series of words which may or may not contain that sound. The task is to identify which words do contain the sound. This section includes French, German and Spanish words. This tests the pupil's ability to identify sound-spelling links.

Section 2

Understanding parts of a sentence

This section tests the pupil's knowledge about language and is almost entirely based on English. Pupils are asked to categorise nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs and to label parts of a sentence, before being presented with a sentence in English, French, German and Spanish. They are invited to comment on the difference between the four languages.

Section 3

Guessing the meaning of words

In the final section pupils are presented with a range of languages (French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Portugese) first at word level and then at sentence level. Words and sentences with the same meaning are grouped together - pupils are expected to deploy their language-learning strategies and look for clues to work out the English.


Section 1 video / audio

Please be aware that the German and Spanish words are played in quick succession so it may be necessary to pause the clip during the test.

Alternatively, this audio file, with questions and pauses, has been kindly provided by Mr Tom Hockaday of Norton Hill School.

Additional instructions

The question paper can be downloaded here.

Total marks for the three sections are as follows:

  • Section 1: 25 points
  • Section 2: 58 points
  • Section 3: 17 points

Although the total is 100, the marks should be adjusted so that the three sections are given equal weighting. Following this the results should be placed in rank order and a suitable calculation decided upon in order to convert the raw scores into a format appropriate to your school's assessment system.

Please contact us if you require a copy of the answers.