Modern Foreign Languages

The principal aim and focus of the Modern Foreign Languages Department is to enable our pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in a foreign language in a real world context.

We know that learning a foreign language develops confidence, it benefits cognitive functionality, provides an essential feature to take into today’s professional job market and provides an excellent opportunity for our girls to connect with cultures other than their own.

Inside the classroom
Extension and Support
Beyond the Classroom

All pupils take French in Year 7. At this stage, we teach using differentiation in order to bridge the gap between girls who have not learnt the language in primary school and those who already have a good knowledge of French.

In Year 8, the girls take up Spanish if appropriate and continue with both foreign languages until Year 9 where we strongly encourage girls to continue with both languages if they are able. Most pupils study either French or Spanish up to GCSE.

Throughout these language learning years, the girls become increasingly confident in expressing themselves on various topics such as friends and family, their holidays, where they live, school life and talking about topical issues such as the environment.

A Level languages is also a popular choice with a number of pupils choosing to study both Spanish and French at a higher level. With the right amount of work and effort, our A Level language pupils can leave the Sixth Form fluent in their target language/s. They are given every opportunity to discuss, debate and also write fluently about a full range of subjects, with a focus on the use of increasingly complex grammar and a wider breadth of vocabulary.

The girls enjoy learning from six first-class linguists, including three native-speaker teachers and two native-speaker language assistants. All members of the MFL Department deliver their lessons in the target language as often as possible. Our pupils benefit from this approach, as hearing the target language soon becomes second nature to them. Pupils are assessed on an ongoing basis with end of unit tests and regular formative assessments done in class to help measure their progress and for them to see how language learning is an on-going process.

We use a range of authentic materials from books, magazines, Youtube videos, movies and articles which make the learning of the foreign language real. Our lessons are fun, interactive and include a variety of activities from role-plays to vocabulary games using the renowned website ‘Quizlet’. The girls also benefit from the use of our brand new language lab in which they can practise their speaking and listening skills.

We aim to maintain a healthy balance of learning with fun as growing confidence and shedding self consciousness is central to developing strength in any language.

We are very fortunate in the MFL department to have two native speaking language assistants who help prepare our girls for their GCSE and A Level speaking examinations.

Our GCSE pupils have an extra half-hour of speaking a week in pairs or very small groups which gives them vital support in preparing for their examinations.

Our A Level pupils have an extra hour of one-to-one speaking practice with them once a week. This helps them to develop the vital confidence needed to express themselves fluently in their target language on a range of current topics and issues.

Our Year 9 Dual Linguist Set also has the opportunity to spend time weekly with one of our language assistants in small groups to practise their speaking skill.

Clinics are offered to GCSE pupils who need to reinforce their subject knowledge, but they are also on offer for pupils who would like to boost their grade. We take great pleasure in working with individual girls on specific strategies to allow them to reach their grade objectives.

Girls are encouraged to borrow books, magazines and foreign films to read or watch at home. They are also given access to language websites so they can stretch their skills whenever they want to.

A variety of activities are organised throughout the year such as trips to Italy, France and Spain and we also host special weeks such as the International Languages Week where all students are involved in activities based around language learning.

Girls in Year 7 are offered the opportunity to compete in our Spelling Bee competition where they get a taste of the Spanish language prior to Year 8.

Girls in Year 9 have the opportunity to join the Foreign Country club, as part of our extensive co-curricular programme, where we hear from guest speakers who share their experience of living in a Foreign Country. We focus on specific countries, undertaking research about the culture, the language, the history and the food, as well as the social and economical situation in each country. We find that attending the club encourages the girls to broaden their understanding of the world and other cultures.

We are also keen to support pupils who wish to learn a language outside of our regular curriculum provision and currently have tutors of Russian, Italian, German, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Japanese and Arabic who teach on a weekly basis. For international pupils who join us with a first language which is not English, we positively encourage them to secure their native language at GCSE.