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 one part-time members of staff as well as two native foreign language assistants and a Mandarin teacher, sponsored by Hanban, 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 girls learn Spanish and Mandarin. In the following year girls then continue with Spanish throughout Key Stage 3 and may start French and continue with Mandarin. All three languages are available at IGCSE and it is possible for girls to do one, two or three languages at GCSE level. French and Spanish are available to A-level. Mandarin in Key Stage Five follows the Cambridge Pre U course over two years.
The department is extremely proud of its success in external examinations. Twenty five girls from the last nine years have continued their study of languages at university including Oxbridge, and the classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019 are studying Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish at Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Warwick, either on their own or as a combined degree.
The language department is housed in well-equipped rooms and regular use is made of IT facilities 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 a language study room available to Sixth Formers is equipped with a TV, DVD recorder and satellite link to terrestrial television channels in Europe. There is an extensive DVD library of foreign language films, which may be borrowed by students at any time and we run an 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 study trip to Montpelier for Key Stage 4 and 5 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 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 IGCSE and A-level.