Modern Foreign Languages

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The limits of my language are the limits of my world. Ludwig Wittgenstein

The ability to communicate in at least one foreign language is becoming ever more essential in a fast-changing, global society.

The Modern Foreign Language (MFL) Department aims to enthuse students, not only with the passion for the challenges and academic rigour of learning a new skill, but also with an appreciation for the different cultures and opportunities available to speakers of more than one language. Recent studies have highlighted that universities and employers value linguists extremely highly, and the Department aims to show each student that his time spent honing his linguistic competence and learning about new places and people is a sound investment in his future.

At Key Stage 3, careful embedding of the structures and words needed to communicate effectively in the language is combined with enthusiastic teaching and modern technology to inspire students to learn more. In French, and then in Spanish, it is the Department's wish that students gain the confidence to use what they learn immediately, so that they understand the satisfaction of making progress in a new skill. The programme of study covers many varied topics, from food and drink to the countries worldwide where the target languages are spoken.

In Forms 4 and 5, the Department follows the new AQA GCSE specification. This allows students to build upon what they have learned at Key Stage 3, whilst further stretching themselves with new structures, tenses and vocabulary. The course aims to develop all four key skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing – equally and is assessed, as with all of the new GCSE specifications, by means of end of course exams in Form 5. This gives our classes the time to reach their own best standard in the language before they are assessed and should also give them greater confidence.  Students are encouraged to consider the usefulness of a language alongside their other subjects, so that they feel confident enough to select it as a Sixth Form subject choice.

In Sixth Form, the Department follows the new A Level specification in both French and Spanish, which allows staff to bring current world affairs into the classroom and tailor more of the learning towards students’ other interests and skills. As well as a focus on technical accuracy and improved fluency, the course also includes the opportunity to study plays, films, literature, current affairs and the historical aspects of the French and Spanish speaking worlds. Contemporary news items are linked to the various units of the course, so that issues can be explored and discovered more effectively, and students’ other study skills are combined with their language learning to prepare them for further study and the world of work.

The Department believes that effective classroom learning should be combined with opportunities for students to apply what they have developed in school in a foreign country. The Department runs a day trip to France in Form 1, an exchange trip with a school in Lyon in Form 2, further trips to France and Spain in Forms 3 and 4, and the opportunity to complete a week’s work experience in Europe during Key Stage 5. The Department actively provides further extra-curricular activities for students to master their chosen languages and recent projects have included a UK Linguistics Olympiad Club, French and Football Double Club and a theatre trip to Paris.