Modern Foreign Languages

The Modern Foreign Language Department consists of a committed, enthusiastic and energetic team of language teachers, both native and non-native speakers as well as the Foreign Language Assistants who play an important role in developing pupils’ spoken competence and raising students’ awareness of the culture of countries where the target language in spoken.

We teach French, German, Mandarin, and Spanish as part of our curriculum and currently we offer Latin lessons as an A level course.

Our aim is to develop a life-long love of language learning in our students, to build their cultural awareness and to ensure that every student is able to reach his/her full potential. We will achieve this by delivering outstanding language lessons, which are well-structured, engaging and relevant to learners.

All pupils will begin studying two languages in Year 7 which they will carry forward into Year 8. Students are strongly advised to continue with at least one language in Year 9 and those who demonstrate a flair for languages could also take on a second language in Year 9. In Years 10 and 11 pupils will work towards a GCSE qualification in one or two of their chosen languages. With a strong record of results, many students seek opportunities to read languages at top universities as a single or joints honours degree after completing their A levels at our school.

We currently have links with schools in France, Germany and Spain and the department organises exchanges and visits abroad each year along with

MFL at KS3

Year 7

French or Spanish or German or Mandarin

Years 8 and 9

Year 7 languages continued.

Year 7  will be taking two of the four languages offered. The school places great emphasis on learning languages hence the students have an accelerated programme of three hours per fortnight in Year 7 in two of the above languages.

No previous knowledge of the language is presumed although if some students are already familiar with the language this is used for the benefit of the group as a whole. Students who speak a heritage language are encouraged to gain the appropriate accreditation at a later stage and are supported by the department with the preparation for the examination.

Great focus is placed in the early weeks on listening and speaking. Audio resources as well as ICT and online resources are used to enhance the skills acquired in the classroom. We believe it is very important for students to have a good pronunciation and intonation and to understand all the grammatical structures of the language. We aim to build confidence at all times so that students can communicate freely with each other in the target language.

In Year 7, students will learn how to cope in real-life situations, which they may find themselves in abroad- introducing themselves, going shopping, talking about where they live, etc. Reading and writing skills are also steadily developed over the year.

In Year 8 students build on what they already know and are introduced to new topics. They also learn how to talk about events in the past and in the future. They continue to work on improving listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. In Year 9 further topics and more complex vocabulary and structures are included.

Students are expected to continue with foreign languages at GCSE or AS/A2 and we naturally encourage that. The department takes pride in the high take-up and outstanding success rate of students at GCSE and Sixth Form level, which buck national trends. A number of our students go on to study languages at university each year.

MFL at KS4

French, German and Spanish (AQA)

What are Modern Foreign Language GCSEs all about?

  • Thanks to new technology and improved travel and communications, the world has become a much smaller place. It is crucial, therefore, that we learn to speak and understand each other. This can only be done effectively by learning other languages and appreciating the associated cultures.
  • A GCSE in another language rewards practical communication skills and adds a European and/or international dimension to your studies as well as developing a skill for life.
  • Learning another language can enhance your employment and mobility prospects whether you want a career in science, business, accountancy, engineering, journalism, law, the world of sports among others and even those wishing to become entrepreneurs. Language graduates appeal to employers who are looking for excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • This is a multi-skill GCSE (speaking 25%, listening 25%, reading 25% and writing 25%) which will enable students of all abilities to develop their language skills to their full potential, equipping them with the knowledge to communicate in a variety of contexts with confidence

Will I enjoy this course?

You will enjoy this course if you want to study a subject that offers:

  • A range of skills and a variety of activities with themes that include media, entertainment and youth culture, education, training & employment and social activities, fitness and health, social and global issues as well as identity and culture in countries/communities where the language is spoken.
  • The possibility to be able to travel abroad – there are trips to France, Germany and Spain available for KS4 students.
  • The potential for linking work to ICT –using multi-media facilities to access resources and news channels and other practical ICT applications will be actively encouraged.

It will appeal to all types of students including those interested in travel, culture and people from different countries, as well as those who will become a new generation of researchers and their role within the international context.

How does it follow on from what I have learned before?

You have developed important language skills and knowledge at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9). The GCSE course will build on this and introduce you to a wider range of language structures and vocabulary. You will learn to recognise these and to apply your new knowledge to different contexts. 

What about exams?

You will be assessed in four different skills. You will take an exam in listening, reading, writing and speaking where you will be expected to demonstrate general and specific understanding of different types of language, writing for a variety of purposes and communicating and interacting across a range of specified contexts.

What about my results?

We enter students for the most appropriate level to enable them to achieve the highest grade possible. The majority are entered for Higher Tier.

Results in Modern Languages have consistently been amongst the highest achieved in the school with several students each year achieving full marks across the four skills.

What other skills might I develop?

Learning a language will help you to develop skills that will be extremely useful to you. It can help you to develop key skills in communication, information and communication technology, working with others and improving your own learning and performance. It will also develop your confidence and ability to communicate with people from other countries and cultures. In addition, learning languages boosts brain power as memory is improved. Decision making skills become easier and your performance in other academic areas is enhanced as you develop a variety of cognitive skills.

What could I do next with a GCSE in a modern foreign language?

You can study a foreign language A level, always in demand by university admissions tutors. An MFL is an essential component of the proposed EBAC qualification. Employers too are forever asking for candidates with language skills and a GCSE in a modern foreign language will place you in a strong position for interesting employment with plenty of career opportunities. Examples of employment where language skills are particularly valued include journalism and media, law, engineering, business and marketing, ICT, sport and leisure, travel and tourism, customer service, civil service (Immigration, Customs and Excise, Diplomatic Service) and teaching (UK and abroad). 

What about exchanges/visits?

In Year 10 students taking German have the possibility of participating in the exchange to Flensburg and Spanish students may take part in a trip to Barcelona. Year 10 French students may take part in a joint exchange programme with a school in Toulouse, alongside students from the Girls’ school. 

Notes

All students study a modern language through to GCSE at the end of Year 11. Hence there are three possible options:

  • to continue with two languages
  • to continue with French, German or Spanish only;

The Languages Department’s preferred option is for students to continue with both languages, although it is recognised that some students will wish to continue with only one.

As the first language has been studied for three years as opposed to only two years for the second language, knowledge of the first language by most pupils is greater.   It is likely that the majority of pupils will produce their best result at GCSE by continuing to study their first language if they choose to take only one. However, students may prefer the fresh start they have been offered in their second language or they might find it more enjoyable. Students should discuss their choice with their language teacher before completing their options form.

MFL at KS5

Modern Languages are a popular subject choice and provide excellent preparation for a wide range of professional careers such as Business Management, Computing, Diplomatic Services, Engineering, Finance, Journalism, Law and Translation. Students may of course study two languages, and combining a language with any other subject is often an excellent way to gain a place at a top university. 

A level Course Outline

The A level Languages provision is offered at a high standard, which will allow students to build on the knowledge acquired at GCSE.

The course is suitable to you, if you:

  • Enjoy language learning
  • Enjoy learning about other cultures and be inspired by cultural curiosity
  • Want to use a language for further study (e.g. at university)
  • Want to work for companies with international links

In addition to discussing and learning about contemporary topics students will be able to enjoy finding out about cultural and historical aspects of the countries where their chosen language is spoken. An additional focus will be on film and contemporary literature.

A particular feature of this course is the development of an ability to understand and produce various texts with a focus upon the different registers of language required in a variety of contexts.

Extra support for the development of oral fluency and confidence is provided through weekly conversation classes with a native speaker. 

Beyond the Classroom

There are a number of opportunities to practise the chosen language, for example during exchange trips. The MFL department organises annual visits to Barcelona, Berlin and Paris. There are also several enrichment opportunities throughout the two years including a translation symposium/workshop, the chance to support the teaching of languages in the Lower School by becoming a member of the MFL Society and different lectures delivered by university professors.

Skills required and developed

During the two-year course students will further develop their four language skills (reading. listening, writing and speaking) and will be able to understand increasingly longer texts and spoken dialogues. Students will also be encouraged to read for pleasure in the target language.

This course will equip students with the ability to discuss both orally and in writing topics of local, national and global importance as well as matters from a range of cultural sources. All of those skills are highly regarded by universities and future employers.

Assessment

A levels will be linear and students will sit all exams at the end of the two-year course. AS will be decoupled from A level; therefore the two qualifications are completely different.

Students will study the grammatical concepts and structure of the language. The end of course exams will test their use of accurate grammar and structures appropriate to the task set.

The course will assess the following skills:

  • Listening and responding to passages from a range of contexts and sources covering different registers.
  • Reading and responding to a variety of texts written for different purposes.
  • Translation into the language of study
  • Speaking (discussion and presentation of topics)
  • The study and research of books and films