The Modern Foreign Languages Faculty

You can never understand one language until you understand at least two. — Geoffrey Willans

The Department aims to help students develop their communicative competence and proficiency, as well as a cross-cultural awareness and a long-lasting love for language learning. Competence in another language is increasingly recognised as a valuable asset, and success in this area of the curriculum will allow pupils to enhance their future career opportunities.

Learning in the Modern Foreign Languages Faculty is both enjoyable and stimulating; it also always offers achievable goals. These are based on a structured and varied range of language activities, using material which takes into account the range of ability and skills within the class. As far as the syllabus allows, it is relevant to the pupils' needs and interests. We always try to encourage a positive learning experience. Success in the early stages of language learning will promote a sense of self-image and build confidence for the more rigorous and challenging experiences ahead. 

Throughout the course of study, emphasis will be placed on the foreign language as a means of communication with others. Classroom activities within the learning context will be purposeful and meaningful and structured to move the pupils towards confident, creative and independent use of the new material.

Communicative activities, pair-work, group-work, as well as teacher-pupil interaction are emphasised and this leads to increasing personal self-confidence in speaking the foreign language and also promote social and presentation skills.

In Shell (Year 9) we offer French, Spanish, German and Kiswahili are all on offer to Shell (Year 9) pupils. The courses generally begin with revision of the present tense, use of adjectives, asking questions and using reflexive verbs, and moves on to introduce the perfect tense, adverbs of frequency, and the comparative and superlative. The imperfect and future tenses are introduced towards the end of the course. It is possible to start any of the four languages offered in Shell (Year 9). However, it is fair to say that it can be a challenge to have only three years to prepare for IGCSE, especially with regard to Kiswahili.

In Year 10, the course begins with revision of adjectives, and the use of emphatic pronouns.  There is a focus on correct use of the present, perfect, future and imperfect tenses. Practice of past papers is started to improve examination technique and preparation for the IGCSE oral examination is begun. The syllabuses followed for French, German and Spanish are CIE IGCSE and CIE O Level for Swahili.

In Year 11, the course begins with a focus on the correct use of future, present and past tenses. Use of pronouns, prepositions, negatives and adjectival agreement are revised. There is a major focus on preparation for the oral examination, and on practice of past papers to improve examination technique.

The following list is not prescriptive or exhaustive but illustrates appropriate preparation (homework) tasks, which can be set to reinforce work carried out in the language class. It is a guide to the wide variety of tasks available to extend knowledge of vocabulary, practise key structures and encourage good study habits:

  • Learning of vocabulary/ short phrases/ verb patterns
  • Learning of role-play phrases and structures for pair-work dialogues
  • Learning of oral answers/ presentations
  • Gap-filling/ true-false exercises
  • Matching/ completion of grids
  • Reading comprehension tasks
  • Grammar completion/ manipulation exercises
  • Guided sentence completion/ preparation of answers to oral questions
  • Guided writing of paragraphs - may be linked to preparation of oral presentations
  • Guided written tasks e.g. sending postcards or E-mails
  • Guided informal letters to pen-friends
  • Guided formal letters

Communication is the primary purpose of foreign language learning and this has implications for methodology. If communication is to be achieved, then the methodology in the classroom must be communicative in line with the content. This approach is based on the principle that language is only acquired by exposure to it and by independent use of it, in situations where there is a genuine reason or purpose for communication. 

This principle provides a general communicative strategy for language teaching and the framework for all classroom practice. Three key stages can be identified in this strategy:

  1. The teacher presents the new material
  2. The pupil practises the material to become familiar with it
  3. The pupil uses the new material actively and creatively in purposeful situations

The primary aim of the faculty is to ensure that each pupil is given the opportunity to reach his/ her full potential in all areas of linguistic competence in the foreign language(s) studied. Candidates should be able to demonstrate:

  • Listening, the ability to understand and respond to the spoken language
  • Speaking, the ability to communicate in speech
  • Reading, the ability to read, understand and respond to written language
  • Writing, the ability to communicate in writing

The following is not an exhaustive list, but will give some idea as to the contexts for learning studied for IGCSE:

Area A -  Everyday activities e.g. home life and school routine, food, health and fitness.
Area B -  Personal and social life e.g. self, family and personal relationships, holidays.
Area C -  The world around us e.g. home town and local area, natural and made environment, people, places and customs.
Area D - The world of work e.g. continuing education, careers and employment.
Area E - The international world e.g. tourism at home and abroad, life in other countries and communities.

A Level Language

At A Level, we offer French, German and Spanish. All three courses follow the Edexcel specification (syllabus). At AS Level, pupils need to be reasonably fluent in general conversation topics and to be able to produce accurate written work.  They need to be able to present their ideas in a logical manner and to know how to conduct an argument. The brand new specification also enhances translation from the set langue into English but also from English into the language studied which requires a high understanding of the linguistic mechanisms of the given language. Moreover, in the Writing section, the pupils will be expected to produce a written response to works studied in class (either a novel or a film). 

Yohann Henry
Head of Modern Foreign Languages Faculty

  • edexcel
  •    HMC - Leading Independent Schools
  •   School Inspection Service
  •              University of Cambridge International Examinations