At St Margaret Ward Catholic College, we firmly believe that knowledge of a modern foreign language is an asset to all students regardless of ability or interests. After all, although English is a very important world language in the 21st century, it definitely isn’t enough. Only 6% of the world’s population speaks English as a first language and 75% don’t speak any English. Indeed, anyone who goes to school in countries where English is not the first language spends significant time learning it. That means that our young people increasingly have to compete with those from other countries who have a least one language in addition to English.
Language learning has an important role to play in developing skills which will stand our young people in good stead to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
Below are just a few good reasons to embrace language learning:
Key Stage 3:
At St. Margaret Ward, all pupils will learn French until the end of Key Stage 3. They will receive two fifty minute periods of teaching every week where we will explore the language across the 4 skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Topics include school life, family, hobbies, home and town, future plans, food, last weekend, fashion and holidays. Pupils are formally assessed at the end of each unit so that their progress can be effectively monitored throughout the course. In addition, Year 8 and 9 pupils will have taster sessions of German at some point during the academic year.
Key Stage 4:
At Key Stage 4, all pupils have the opportunity to pursue the study of French GCSE or to take up German GCSE ab initio. Pupils receive three fifty minute periods per language every week. Again, regular assessment enables the department to ensure that pupils can achieve their true potential in the subject and are entered for the correct tier, either Foundation or Higher. Topics that are covered range from the environment to relationships. We have recently introduced a mentoring programme delivered by sixth-form languages students to support the GCSE pupils with their oral examinations and vocabulary learning. The GCSE examination is divided into 4 sections. The listening and reading examinations are worth 40% of the overall grade and take place in May/June of Year 11. The controlled assessment writing and speaking tests count for 60% of the overall grade and are carried out during the course of Year 11.
The Trinity Sixth-Form Centre also offers French and German A Levels. For further information regarding post-16 courses, please refer to the Trinity Sixth-From section of the website.
As well as classroom based learning, the MFL department actively encourages contact with France and Germany in order to broaden our pupils’ minds and we are in the process of starting a link with a school in Montpellier.
Key Stage 5:
There are opportunities to extend language learning at Post-16. A Level language courses are available at the Trinity Sixth Form, details of which can be found in the relevant section of our website.
Without doubt, regular completion of homework in languages maximises the progress made by every pupil. The department varies the tasks which are set, including learning vocabulary, researching cultural issues on the internet and frequent practice in listening, reading, writing and speaking. In particular, being able to memorise words or phrases is critical to success in language learning and in many other subjects which require more detail for the top grades. Many rote-learning strategies are discussed during lessons so that all pupils are capable of completing learning homework to a high standard.
Pupils should be encouraged to arrive at each lesson with the correct equipment: pen, pencil, ruler, eraser and exercise books. Although we have French and German dictionaries available for use in school, the purchase of the relevant dictionary for use at home will encourage the pupil to become increasingly independent in the acquisition of language. The dictionaries can be purchased at a reduced cost to the retail price from pupil support at school.