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Modern Languages are an increasingly important tool in the global 21st century. Competition for jobs often means that applicants with additional skills are advantaged. Linguists are considered as possessing all-round capabilities, have confidence in communicating and have well-trained, logical minds. If someone has spent time abroad, they have a wider cultural awareness, can show proof of enquiring minds and a willingness to take on a challenge. Hence excellent opportunities exist for competent linguists, both those who have specialised in the study of languages to a high level and those who can combine them with other subjects.
All the modern languages are taught in a lively and interesting way. We aim to combine a thorough approach to vocabulary and grammar knowledge with as many opportunities as possible to practise communication. All language teaching rooms have listening equipment and interactive SMART Boards to ensure as much exposure to authentic language as possible. Pupils are thus able to develop a good accent and strong listening skills as well as the confidence to produce their own language. In addition, we make frequent use of our language laboratories to further enhance independent study and subscribe to on-line language sites for reinforcement.
Generally small set sizes enable much individual tailoring of our teaching to the particular needs of pupils, and support and extension sessions are offered. In all languages we have the service of dedicated foreign language assistants and our exchange programmes ensure that every pupil is given the opportunity to develop their language skills in the most effective way.
We aim to offer a course that is both rigorous and enjoyable and which opens the eyes of every pupil to the rich diversity of European and indeed global culture.
French is known as the language of food, love, diplomacy and culture. It has contributed more than 15,000 words to English: croissant, nuance, entrepreneur, haute couture to name but a few! As one of the official languages of international organisations such as the UN, UNESCO and NATO, it is also one of the world's most important and influential languages.
Pupils studying French at King Edward’s learn to use this language effectively for communication. Proficiency is developed in the four key language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. As well as perfecting their ability to use modern French as a powerful communicative tool, we are keen to emphasize the accurate knowledge and use of grammar. Learning French helps to develop a keen eye for linguistic detail, focusing on widening vocabulary and the appropriate use of words and syntax. Learning a modern foreign language helps develop self-confidence as pupils show greater fluency and mastery of the new language.
We organise an annual cultural trip to Paris in the School’s Activities Week and we have a French Exchange programme with a school in Nîmes. We are based in a modern languages suite including two digital language laboratories which help to promote and practise language skills via the use of dedicated software on the School’s computers, as well as allowing access to the numerous language learning programmes on the internet.
Pupils start with interactive oral work, focusing on speaking and listening to encourage comprehension and self-expression. The focus shifts increasingly to writing and the accurate knowledge of grammar. Language is taught in meaningful contexts. Interactive whiteboards and access to the internet allow opportunities to learn enjoyable and effectively. Games, songs, pair work and group work all contribute to the liveliness of our approach and enhance accurate communication. By the end of Year 9, all pupils will have learnt to use the Perfect and Future Tenses. Regular learning and written homework allow pupils to improve their grammar and widen their vocabulary.
KES pupils prepare for the Edexcel IGCSE in French. All major tenses are covered in this course. A valuable addition to the pupils’ classes is a weekly conversation class in small groups with an experienced native French speaker. Pupils learn greater oral fluency and greater proficiency in their written French, as well as enhancing their comprehension skills and all four skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing - are tested in their final examinations.. The IGCSE is also an important preparation for studies in the sixth form, providing a valuable foundation for more advanced work in this language.
Sixth form pupils study the Edexcel syllabus. There are four main topics: French society and culture, Multiculturalism and the Occupation of France in WWII. Pupils also study a book and a film, chosen from a prescribed list, such as L’Étranger, Un Sac de Billes, La Haine and Au Revoir Les Enfants. Pupils learn to talk and write about all these topics, expressing their opinions in accurate, fluent French. As well as preparing them for university, this syllabus teaches pupils to communicate confidently in French, demonstrating a good knowledge of grammar and vocabulary as well as contemporary French issues.
The German department at King Edward’s is continually growing, with more and more pupils electing to take this challenging, exciting and satisfying language during their study here. There are many reasons why German is such an important language and why it is worth studying.
German is highly sought after in the jobs market. It is the most widely spoken native language in Europe, with between 90 and 100 million native speakers, equating to roughly 16% of the entire population of Europe. Similarly, German is the third most widely taught language worldwide, edging out Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish to sit comfortably behind English and French.
German has often been considered a difficult language, but this is not necessarily the case! Some studies have found that German shares at least 60% of its vocabulary and language roots with English so, as an English speaker, you are already over half way there!
We support our classroom teaching with an annual exchange visit to Germany and with other extra-curricular trips in the year, as well as with speaking lessons with our native-speaking Language Assistant. Our aim is to encourage enjoyment in using language, at whatever level, and to give pupils a growing sense of their own ability to communicate effectively.
In Year 7, pupils will master all the basics of German, including pronunciation, the alphabet, numbers and colours. They are introduced to grammatical concepts such as gender, formation of plurals, verb conjugations and word order. By the time they are in Year 8, they will have been introduced to more complex grammar, such as the past tense. As pupils continue their study into Year 9, they are taught more complex sentence structure and tense usage. Vocabulary is learned and practised on a regular basis using our online subscriptions to numerous language-learning websites and programs. Pupils are encouraged to develop their confidence and their capability whilst enjoying their study.
German is examined using the Edexcel IGCSE, which is an approachable but rigorous course that gives equal weight to the key skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. There is no coursework, and the speaking exam is conducted by each pupil’s usual teacher. Pupils benefit from fortnightly conversation classes with our German-speaking language assistant and are encouraged to develop their knowledge and understanding of grammar in a more formal context. Pupils are given the skills to develop their opinions regarding several interesting and engaging topics and are given the confidence and ability to express them clearly.
During the two-year A Level course, pupils develop the key topics studied at IGCSE, whilst increasing their vocabulary and revising and extending their grammatical knowledge. The emphasis is strongly on acquiring language that will help pupils to travel and/or study abroad and, therefore, be useful in a work context. In Year 13, pupils conduct an in-depth study and analysis of both a German-speaking novel and a film. At this stage, pupils are also encouraged to develop not only linguistic competence, but also the ability to discuss current affairs at a high level. A Level German pupils also benefit from a cultural visit to Berlin.
The Spanish department aims to make pupils proficient in the use of Spanish. This involves not only linguistic competence but a thorough understanding of Spanish culture. Spanish is one of the world's major languages, with over 400 million speakers globally. We pride ourselves on the excellent progress that pupils make, right from the beginning of study in Year 7.
The department believes in the importance of bringing a language to life by spending time in a country in which it is spoken. In Year 8, pupils have the opportunity to spend a week in Barcelona as part of the School’s Activities Week. In Years 9 to 13, pupils take part in our long-established Pamplona Exchange, which serves to boost the pupils’ cultural awareness of Spain as well as their oral confidence.
Our well-resourced audio-visual and computer laboratories provide intensive practice in the key skills of listening and speaking, while weekly lessons with the Spanish native speaker assistant contribute to the achievement of excellent levels of oral competence.
In addition to the Spanish curriculum, our pupils are encouraged to take part in competitions and many cultural activities such as the annual Spanish play performed in school by a Spanish theatre company. The department stocks an easy reader section with graded abridged versions of classic Spanish and Latin American works and Spanish translations of popular authors.
A measure of the success of language learning is the encouraging number of pupils who go on to read Spanish at university.
In Years 7-9 pupils benefit from three periods of study a fortnight in which they will learn how to read, speak, write and listen to Spanish across a range of topics. These include: introductions, describing people and talking about family and friends. In Years 8 and 9 pupils begin to work on language and grammar near to GCSE level. In Year 9 there is a greater focus on grammar, and by the end of the year the pupils are able to use a variety of verb tenses with confidence, preparing them for the possibility of successful GCSE study later on.
In Years 10 and 11 pupils prepare for the Edexcel IGCSE, which assesses the four skills (writing, listening, reading and speaking) each one worth 25% of the qualification.
During Year 10, pupils develop their grammatical skills and broaden their range of vocabulary knowledge. All pupils have a 30-minute weekly conversation lesson with the Spanish language assistant. Year 11 builds on the knowledge of the previous year's work, adding greater depth and breadth to both grammar and vocabulary knowledge.
At A Level we follow the Welsh Board course. Pupils learn about a variety of topics relating to the modern world and they also study two cultural topics linked to Spanish-speaking countries which encourage independent research and thought. Currently these topics are The House of Bernarda Alba, written by Lorca and a film by Spain's most celebrated director, Pedro Almodvar.
Lessons are conducted largely in the target language and each week pupils meet with the Spanish language assistant to develop their oral skills in small groups so that their spoken Spanish improves greatly during the course. Pupils are also prepared thoroughly for formal examinations in Reading, Writing and Listening at the end of the year.
The cultural focus of Year 13 offers pupils an insight into more complex topics. The opinions that they form, whilst guided, are encouraged to be their own and are displayed in animated dialogues and essays. Study of Spanish complements many other subjects at both A Level and at university because of the broad range of skills demonstrated by competent linguists. As well as going on to language degrees, pupils have combined Spanish with International Relations, History, Politics or Medicine.