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Aims & Philosophy of the Modern European Languages Department

The Modern European Languages department at QM is devoted to not only ensuring girls achieve the best possible exam results, but also in helping each to acquire skills which prepare them for further education and the working world, and enabling them to participate positively as future citizens.

The department seeks to promote the enjoyment of language learning at all levels and to inspire girls to broaden their knowledge of and interest in the cultures of the languages they are learning. The department encourages girls to develop their communication skills in a friendly, supportive and welcoming environment. One of its main goals is to provide all pupils with a sense of achievement and to promote a range of learning styles.

Winner of the ‘Best Performance by Girls Taking French at an English Independent School’ (Good Schools Guide Awards 2016).

Overview of Key Stage 4 Curriculum

At IGCSE level, all girls study at least one language. Throughout Year IV-11, girls attend weekly conversation lessons in small groups. The objectives of earlier years are continued with modifications and extensions to take into account greater proficiency in the four skills. During this time, new areas of language will be studied, based on an increasing and varied range of settings and topics. Girls will be expected to display knowledge of a wide range of vocabulary, and structures will progress towards greater linguistic independence. Throughout the course, a number of topics are covered throughout four units. These include: meeting people, personal interests, friendships and relationships; home and local issues, school and college, helping others; going on a trip, holiday preferences and experiences, being a guest and a host; lifestyle choices and impact, material choices, future plans and ambitions.

At the end of Year V, the majority of girls are entered for the higher tier language papers and exam results are of a high standard.

What makes the department unique from those at other schools?

Within the MEL department, a communicative and interactive approach to teaching is adopted at all levels, and the language is spoken as much as possible. Whether learning German, Spanish, French or in some cases multiple languages, girls develop their listening, reading, writing and speaking skills at all levels, and grammar is taught progressively in order to lay a foundation for future study.

Computers are used as an integral tool to learning at all levels, including teaching vocabulary and grammar; additionally, the internet is frequently used to access materials. Independent oral and audio projects are incorporated into schemes of work to motivate and inspire creativity.

Every term girls who study languages in the Sixth Form and Year V attend cinema clubs in French, Spanish and German and many spend time abroad on language courses or doing work experience. The aim of the department is to organise a trip to France, Spain or Germany per academic year and an exchange is currently being set up with St. Margaret’s School in Chile. Every year, the department presents the Most Improved Young Linguist of the Year award to a girl in Years 9 or 10 and also the Excellent Effort in Modern Languages in the Sixth Form prize to motivate and inspire girls to work to their full potential in languages.

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