Modern foreign languages

Head of department

Mr T Chamberlain

Teaching staff

Mr T Higson
Mrs L Lyons
Mrs F Stevens
Ms A Wallington
Mrs D Stoker

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Modern foreign languages

Aims of the department:

Students can learn French, German and Spanish. The department’s philosophy is to help students develop their use of these languages for practical purposes and develop an appreciation of languages, other cultures and of language learning in general.

We believe in an oral approach, with lessons conducted largely in the foreign language, supported by careful study and practice of grammar and vocabulary. We aim to develop the skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing through a wide range of activities including: class oral work, pair work, group work, acting out dialogues, vocabulary learning, oral and written grammar drills, listening to and watching recorded material, songs, playing language games, dictation, using interactive computer resources, memorising talks and writing compositions.

Summary of subject content full syllabus links:

Lower school (KS3)

All students learn French. There are 4 lessons a week in First Year, 5 in Second Year and 4 in Thrid Year. Students have 2 pieces of homework each week.

The course followed is Tricolore Total. We also use a wide range of other resources including interactive websites, our own worksheets, the interactive board (e.g. Boardworks and Atantôt). Students are invited to subscribe to a French magazine and we sometimes exchange penfriend letters with our partner school in France.

Assessment takes the form of regular end of unit tests in listening, reading and writing, along with end of year examinations, which also include an assessment of oral proficiency. Every pupil is given a teacher-assessed level at the end of Third Year. About 30% of any year group reach level 7.

Set arrangements:

Classes work in their form group until the end of Second Year when they are put into sets, one top (Alpha), two middle (Beta) and two lower (Gamma). A very large proportion of those studying in Alpha sets will go on to achieve A* grades at GCSE, while those in the Beta sets will generally achieve a range of results from A* to B. There are students in Gamma sets each year who produce grades as high as A, but results are, more usually, B or C grades.

Third Year - all students begin German and Spanish and do each language for half the year. The aim of this course is to give an introduction to the language for all and to provide a start for those who wish to continue a second foreign language at KS4.

Upper school (KS4/GCSE)

French is continued by all students to GCSE. German and Spanish are options with 4 periods per week. Tricolore Total is the course used for French. In German we use Echo and in Spanish Mira. Assessment continues to be by end of unit test, regular vocabulary testing, along with two examinations in Fourth Year and a mock examination in Fifth Year.

Exam Board: AQA.

A large majority of students enter at higher tier in all the language skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing). Oral and written work are assessed by controlled assessment, largely in Fifth Year.

Sixth form (AS/A2)

French German and Spanish are offered at AS and A2 level. Students have two teachers for both French and Spanish, and one for German.

Students enter for module exams in June of the Lower Sixth year. Students are advised to retake AS modules in January or June of the Upper Sixth year, if necessary.

Students enter for module exams in June of the Upper Sixth year.

We use the AQA course books along with our own resources.

Exam Board: AQA

Trips, special projects, extra-curricular clubs/activities

Since 1988 we have been running an exchange scheme for Fourth Year and A level students with the Institution Saint Louis in Pont l'Abbé d'Arnoult in France.

A level German students often take part in a work experience programme.

The department was recently rehoused in the brand new classroom block, and uses five modern and well-equipped teaching rooms, provided with up-to-date interactive screens and computers. Pupils make regular use of the school ICT rooms in MFL lessons. The school library is well-stocked with books, dictionaries and DVDs, whilst satellite television is also available to students.

Additional information

Exam results

About half our students achieve A* or A grade at GCSE.

We attract an unusually large number of students at AS and A2 level and well over half achieve A*-B grades.

Career opportunities

The outlook is very positive indeed for students who learn modern foreign languages. Employment rates after languages degrees are amongst the very highest. Employers particularly welcome graduates with good communication skills and who can offer one or more modern foreign languages.

Languages graduates may get involved in education or translating/interpreting, but it is much more likely that they would work in commerce or industry using languages as an ancillary skill.