The Modern Languages Department is extremely strong within the school and teaches French, Spanish and German to GCSE, AS and A2 Level and girls frequently prepare for Oxbridge entrance. All girls study at least one modern language at GCSE Level. Many girls successfully combine two languages at GCSE, AS and A2 Levels and often choose to pursue university courses in languages.
At all levels, the communicative approach to teaching is used and the target language is spoken as much as possible. Girls develop their listening, reading, writing and speaking skills at all levels and grammar is taught progressively in order to lay a sound foundation for future language study. Computers are used as an integral tool to language learning at all levels in terms of teaching vocabulary and grammar and also the internet is frequently used to access foreign language material.
The Department is housed in a suite of rooms which are fully equipped with multimedia projectors, DVD and CD players as well as satellite television. Consistently high results are achieved in all languages at GCSE, AS and A2 Level.
From a choice of French, German and Spanish girls choose two subjects to study from Year I. Subjects are graded by ability where appropriate.
The main aim of the courses is to develop the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing together with the introduction of grammar as a key basis of language acquisition. The emphasis is on the enjoyment of learning and communicating in another language.
Topics include: personal identity, family, pets, school, hobbies, home town, house, the weather, daily routine, food and drink, clothes, holidays, pocket money.
On the whole all girls study at least one language at GCSE and the AQA syllabus is followed in all three languages. At the end of Year IV and throughout Year V girls attend weekly conversation lessons in small groups.
The following topic areas are covered throughout the GCSE course:
Lifestyle – Health, Relationships and Choices
Leisure – Free time and the media, holidays
Home and Environment – Home and Local area, Environment
Work and Education – School and future plans, current and future jobs
The four skills are examined separately and carry different weighting:
Listening (20%), Reading (20%), Speaking (30%) and Writing (30%). Candidates can be entered for foundation or higher tier in listening and reading. The majority of girls are entered for the higher tier language papers at the end of Year V and examination results are of a high standard. The speaking and writing components are produced in school under controlled conditions.
In the Sixth Form girls follow the AQA specifications in German, French and Spanish. They develop the skills necessary to communicate confidently and learn to understand more complex and varied written and spoken language through a variety of sources including books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, DVDs and the Internet. Girls are encouraged to borrow films and read more widely and have the opportunity to discover the literature of their chosen language at A2 Level.
The courses also aim to develop girls’ knowledge of the country and its culture. Girls attend weekly conversation classes to develop fluency and pronunciation skills. Some girls take a language to AS Level and most take their language choices to A2 Level.
AS Level: The following topics are studied:
Media – TV, Advertising and Communication Technology
Popular Culture – Cinema, Music and Fashion/Trends
Healthy Living/Lifestyle – Sport/exercise, health and well-being, holidays
Family/Relationships – Relationships within the family, friendships, marriage
A2 Level: The following topics are studied:
Environment: Pollution, Energy and Protecting the planet
The Multi-Cultural Society: Immigration, Integration and Racism
Contemporary Social Issues: Wealth and Poverty, Law and order and the impact of scientific and technological progress.
Cultural Topics: The study of a target language speaking region or the study of a period of 20th century history or the study of a novelist/dramatist/poet/director from the target language speaking country
The courses are examined in the following way:
Unit 1 Listening, Reading and Writing 2 hours (70% of AS or 35% of A2)
Unit 2 Speaking 35 minutes (30% of AS or 15% of A2)
Unit 3 Listening, Reading and Writing 2.5 hours (35% of A2)
Unit 4 Speaking 35 minutes (15% of A2)
Further information can be found at the following websites:
The Modern Languages Department strongly believes in the importance of promoting the culture of a country alongside the study of its language. Therefore a wide range of extra-curricular activities is organised such as:
A-Level courses, the European Day of Languages, opportunities to cook and sample traditional food, Spanish dancing amongst others. Every term girls who study languages in the Sixth Form attend cinema clubs in French, Spanish and German and many spend time abroad on language courses or doing work experience. There is a cross-curricular Business Studies and German trip in the Sixth Form and the aim of the department is to organise a trip to France, Spain or Germany per academic year.