Everyone knows that languages are important in today’s multicultural society and that speaking one – however badly! – is a valuable asset in the world in which we live, work and take holidays. Our main aim, therefore, is to prepare our learners for a future in a competitive work place and an ever-changing society and we are committed to giving them the tools to reach their potential. At the same time, we support the school’s aim to foster in our students a sense of global citizenship, personal fulfilment and independent interest. Above all, we want our students to enjoy learning about different cultures, countries and communities.
We encourage pupils to develop their language skills not just as a means of communicating when they are on holiday, or of securing a recognised qualification but as an equally valuable means of developing a variety of transferable lifelong skills. Learning to speak a foreign language like Spanish persuades learners to be creative and take risks; it develops vital communication and inter-personal skills; even more importantly, it supports the development of literacy skills in a student’s own language.
Consider that 94% of the world’s population does not speak English as a first language. Or that 75% doesn’t speak English at all! Think about the job opportunities which Zara, O2 (Telefonica) and Santander, as only a few examples, offer young people in the international employment market. 65% of UK trade is with non-English speaking countries and it is accepted that sales executives addressing customers in their own language are FOUR times more likely to get the sale. If you’re still not convinced of the importance in these impending Brexit days of knowing something of a second language, remember that as the 3rd most widely spoken language, Spanish is spoken much further afield than in Europe meaning that even basic competency in just one language can expand horizons.
Course Content Overview KS3
From year 8, pupils are taught in sets based on ability and learning styles. Through every-day topics like friends and family, holidays, school and leisure interests we help pupils to develop their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills which are assessed on an on-going basis in class. Every lesson, pupils will spend time talking with each other in Spanish, picking up new vocabulary and consolidating what they have learnt. They build their confidence by practising in a non-threatening and fun environment via pair and group games, with (decidedly competitive) inter-form competitions at the end of term.
Pupils start to build up their stock of vocabulary from the very first lesson as we build on the basics they will have studied at primary school and they are encouraged to add to their own word-bag every day. Classroom routines are essential and pupils quickly engage with almost daily vocabulary quizzes, grammar games and writing challenges, laying down foundations for learning at KS4, should they continue to study to GCSE competency.
Indeed, many pupils are prompted to continue with language study once they know that fewer than 40% of UK pupils leave school with a GCSE language qualification. This clearly makes those who DO extremely valuable in the eyes of employers, colleges and universities.
Course Content Overview KS4
The AQA Spanish GCSE course is a linear one, tested by a final exam in all four language skills equally weighted. The new specification consolidates and expands work not just in some of the topics covered already in years 7, 8 and 9 but in some new, more far-reaching ones. It includes the following main areas of study:
- Identity and culture (family and friends; technology in every-day life; hobbies; customs and traditions in other countries);
- Local, national, international and global areas of interest (town and neighbourhood; social issues; global problems; travel and tourism);
- Current and future study and employment (school life and studies; further education; career choices and ambitions)
Assessment and Exams
Oral Examination: It’s worth mentioning that for this important quarter of the exam, the test is “live”. It will be recorded and sent off to the examining body and is conducted with the usual classroom teacher. Pupils will have practised several types of conversation questions and role-plays in advance.
Foundation/Higher Entry: Pupils are entered for GCSE at the tier most suitable to their overall level of competence. They may well have individual strengths and preferences within the four language skills but the new exam specification no longer allows separate level entries per skill. This is something teachers will consider carefully ahead of submitting entry levels.
How parents can support their children in MFL
- Encourage 100% attendance at school – it is impossible to replicate elsewhere the “live” language element of lessons and missing a vital grammar point can set students back
- Test your child on specific topic vocabulary lists or just generally from their word bag (they always have words to learn!!!! A-L-W-A-Y-S!)
- Remind your child how effort and independent preparation on his/her part will certainly equate to better results. This applies whatever year your child is in – and especially in view of the more challenging exam content of the new language specification
- Help your child practise general speaking questions, no matter how little language knowledge you have! You can play the role of the teacher, simply posing the questions!
- Contact us directly if your son or daughter is worried about anything to do with homework, preparation or independent study between lessons or ask them to talk to one of us in the department as soon as possible
- In years 10 and 11, check that your child is revising from (and keeping organized) the file he/she has built up. There are several important sections in the file which are vital for successful revision – missing or lost worksheets will lead to gaps in knowledge and vocabulary. In lower school years, have a look through your child’s exercise book – it should be in good condition, neat with work well presented and clearly set out and, of course, it should be marked with clear pointers given about how to improve
- Encourage your child to work independently from the CGP workbook which pupils buy as an additional resource at the start of both KS3 and KS4. It covers all of the text book topics we study and contains many excellent grammar and vocabulary exercises which can be done repeatedly at home.
- GCSE BBC bitesize