Studying languages is about learning to communicate in a foreign language in a wide variety of situations. The curriculum is geared towards developing abilities and confidence in speaking, listening, reading and writing in the language studied. It also equips the student with the skills required for further study, work and leisure. The student is offered an insight into the culture and civilisation of French, German or Spanish-speaking countries, with the aim of promoting global citizenship and international understanding.
Technology is routinely used in the classroom and students use a range of electronic resources to work independently on grammar, listening or reading activities. Pupils have frequent opportunities in lessons to practise their speaking skills and improve their confidence in this area. KS5 classes also benefit from conversation classes, in small groups. These sessions build confidence in speaking, and enable wider discussion about current affairs in the countries where the target language is spoken.
Grouping & Setting
All pupils study either French or Spanish in Year 7 and are taught in their form groups. At Christmas, pupils are placed in sets based on ability. In Year 8, the most able students are offered the opportunity to study an additional language as well as the language learnt in Year 7 (double linguists). Many of these students then chose to study two languages up to GCSE.
Teaching and learning is differentiated in both lessons and homework to maximise progress for students of all abilities. In addition, Gifted and Talented students have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the origins of European languages through studying Latin as an extra-curricular class and further initiatives across the year.
In Years 7-11, students are assessed on two out of the four skill areas (listening, speaking, reading and writing) at the end of each half-term and the results of these assessments can be used to inform set changes, to ensure that pupils are in a group maximises their progress. In line with government expectations, the vast majority of students are required to study a language at GCSE as it forms one fifth of the English Baccalaureate. This language can be French, German or Spanish: Spanish and French are only available to those who have studied that subject in Year 8. Students have the opportunity to study German ab initio in Year 9. Double linguists may choose to study two languages at GCSE level and students have the opportunity to study French, German and Spanish to A Level.
At strategic intervals, a small group of pupils are offered the opportunity to dedicate further curriculum time to the study of core subjects in place of a language. Any such decision is based on attainment across all subjects, and liaison with pupils, parents and teachers.
In order for students to experience a foreign language and culture first hand, the Faculty runs a number of trips abroad. In Year 8, pupils take part in a study trip to Normandy, in France, to improve their language skills. An exchange has been established with a grammar school in Berlin and we have a French partner school in Le Raincy, in the suburbs of Paris. We also run a languages trip to Murcia for Year 9 students.
We run clubs in Turkish, Mandarin and Russian using peripatetic staff and provide exam coaching in these areas, allowing native speakers to sit their GCSEs at Ashmole.