Modern languages

The Modern Languages department has an exciting programme of language teaching and learning. Three modern languages are taught within the curriculum – Spanish, Mandarin and French. All languages are taught by subject specialists. There are three full-time and two part-time members of staff as well as two native foreign language assistants and a Mandarin teacher, sponsored by the Office of Chinese Language Council International in Beijing.

The aims of the department are:
• To develop the ability to use the target language effectively for the purposes of practical communication.
• To encourage positive attitudes to foreign language learning and to speakers of foreign languages.
• To foster a sympathetic understanding of the culture and civilisation of countries whose first language is the target language.
• To provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation.

In Year 7 all students learn Spanish and Mandarin. In the following year students then continue with Spanish throughout Key Stage 3 and may start French and continue with Mandarin. All three languages are available at GCSE and it is possible for students to do one, two or three languages at GCSE level. French, Spanish and Mandarin are also available at A-level.

The department is extremely proud of its success in external examinations. In the last three years, eleven students have continued their study of languages at university including Oxbridge, and the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021 are studying Chinese, French, German and Spanish at Cambridge, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds, either on their own or as a combined degree.

The language department is housed in well-equipped rooms and regular use is made of technology to enhance language learning. Pupils can access listening material, use our online resources and record themselves speaking a foreign language independently. The department uses iPads and language learning apps extensively and we make regular use of the Virtual Board Room to organise videoconferences with our partner schools in China, France and Spain. Students are encouraged to make use of online platforms to access world cinema and we run a range of extracurricular activities ranging from translation club to international film club and a French café club for Sixth Formers.

We run many trips abroad to help our girls practise their language skills. Our Sixth Formers may take part in a work experience programme to practise their language skills and we run a homestay study trip to Montpelier for GCSE and A-level French students, and a study trip for Year 8 and 9 French students. For students of Spanish, we run a biennial trip to Barcelona for Year 8 and 9 students and there is a biennial GCSE and A-level Spanish homestay study trip to Salamanca in October. We visit China on an annual or biennial basis and on our last trip, our Year 9 girls went to Beijing and Changzhou with the IoE Summer camp.

In addition, girls may pursue an interest in languages during lunch times. We run clinics in all languages and regular film, theatre and restaurant visits also take place to relevant performances. Girls attend external revision conferences where available for GCSE and A-level.