In the knowledge society of the 21st century, language competence and intercultural understanding are not optional extras, they are an essential part of being a citizen.
Languages for All: Languages for Life-A Strategy for England 2002
We believe that modern languages are the way forward. Learning a new language and discovering its culture provides a rewarding educational experience and is an essential element in today’s global professional job market.
We want our pupils to learn languages in a positive and encouraging environment where they master the rules of grammar and develop the confidence to communicate well in their chosen languages. As they progress we expect more intellectual rigour in the target language with the discussion of social and political issues, culminating in the Sixth Form in which culture, history and literature are discussed.
Pupils are offered opportunities to practise their language skills in context and learn more about other countries through a programme of courses and visits abroad.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
- French, German and Spanish are taught in a carousel of the 3 languages. This is divided into 10 week blocks with two languages at any one time.
- Pupils are taught in language sets.
- The emphasis is on enjoyment and exposure to new language. Pupils work on developing good communication skills in the general topics.
- Pupils have an introduction to the culture of France, Germany and Spain.
- Grammatical concepts and correct sentence structure are introduced and expanded.
Years 8 and 9
- Pupils have made their choice of any two of the above languages.
- The sets are reviewed and adjusted accordingly.
- More diverse topics are covered and GCSE vocabulary is introduced.
- More complex grammar is used in preparation for GCSE.
Years 10 and 11
- All pupils continue with a language to GCSE and some take two languages.
- For GCSE we use AQA specification.
- Advanced grammar and vocabulary are used to explore social issues and culture in more detail. Pupils learn to write discursive and abstract essays.
- Presenting an argument and counteracting different points of view requires a greater fluency in speaking and writing.
- For A level we use AQA specification.
Italian is offered as an extra-curricular class and can lead to a GCSE qualification.
Mandarin is offered through our partnership with Dragons in Europe.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7 all pupils learn French, German and Spanish; they are taught in a carousel of 2 languages at a time for 3 ten week sessions to ensure a thorough grounding in basic grammar and vocabulary and, more importantly to expose pupils to these different European languages.
In their first lesson pupils are given a language test which provides us with a measure of their previous experience in French. According to results, pupils are allocated to 3 different sets. The sets are subject to frequent review and pupils are moved according to their needs. Towards the end of Year 7 pupils choose 2 of the 3 languages to continue through Years 8 and 9.
We use a variety of techniques and a multi media approach to teach and assess the four language skills. Throughout Key Stage 3 we cover a wide range of topic areas including; “me and my life”, “the environment”, “healthy eating”, “sport and free-time”, “holidays”, “food and drink” and “school and education”.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4, we use AQA examination board and students are examined in all four language skills.
They are also encouraged to take an active interest in the target language’s country to build cultural awareness and to give the language an authentic context. The topic areas which are covered during the course include:
- Lifestyle (healthy living, self, family, friends, relationships, future plans, social issues.)
- Leisure (free time, sport, shopping, fashion, technology.)
- Home and environment (festivals, house, home town, local area, environment, pollution, recycling, comparisons with other towns and regions, weather and seasons.)
- Work and education (school, comparisons and school problems, work experience, part-time jobs, future careers.)
Key Stage 5
Pupils study AS in Year 12 and A2 in Year 13. We encourage and expect most pupils to continue to A2.
We use AQA specification which prepares students for further study and gives candidates an excellent opportunity to develop all aspects of the target language. Throughout the course they have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Materials are drawn from a wide range of authentic target language sources and students are encouraged to study social and cultural aspects of the relevant countries, as well as develop their individual interests in the local language and culture.
Units are externally assessed and at both AS and A2, there is a speaking component, as well as a listening, reading and writing paper. Topics include society, the environment, science and technology, culture, aspects of daily life, leisure and entertainment, communication and media, education and training.
A-level students are encouraged to study or complete work experience abroad.
German Trip to the Christmas Markets
Thirty excited girls gathered at the end of the autumn term for a trip to Cologne and the Christmas markets.
In the evenings the girls used their German at the Angel Market which offered an amazing array of Christmas decorations and tasty treats. Chocolate strawberries were a favourite.
Whilst Cologne Cathedral, the Marksburg Castle and a mini Rhine Cruise gave the girls a cultural view of Germany, the highlight had to be our visit to Cologne's Chocolate Museum which proved to be taste of things to come! During the guided tour we were complimented on the engagement and interest shown by the pupils and their exceptionally good behaviour. They were a credit to the school.
To complete the foodie theme the girls ordered refreshments on the Rhine cruise ship in German and afterwards we sampled the cakes in a typical Rhineland Café in Boppard, where pupils again used their German. If they return to Germany they will certainly be able to make the most of the local cuisine.
The Year 10 and 11 German groups visited the Goethe Institut for a film viewing at the end of March.
GCSE Spanish Trip to Gredos
7am at Heathrow Airport, and seventeen girls from Years 9 and 10 were doing their final checks before heading off to Spain to spend five days at the Gredos Field Centre in Spain:
‘¿Pasaporte? Sí. ¿Dinero? Sí. ¿Gafas del sol? ¡Claro!’
On arriving in Madrid, we travelled to the beautiful medieval city of Avila to explore the narrow streets and enjoy a snack of churros con chocolate in a typical local café. It was a relaxing moment ahead of a packed schedule of outdoor activities, cultural immersion and, above all, speaking lots of Spanish! But who better to tell you about the trip than the girls themselves? In their own words, here is what they thought of their Gredos experience:
I enjoyed the whole trip as it really helped my Spanish and I loved seeing all of the tourist sites and what Spain has to offer.
We participated in a range of activities such as archery, high ropes, a Spanish cooking course and orienteering. We had a lovely time and it widened our vocabulary. My favourite part was visiting Salamanca because there was lots of amazing architecture.
I enjoyed being able to see the Spanish cities and explore their culture properly. I also really enjoyed going to the plaza de toros as I will probably never do it again.
We did many activities ranging from zip wiring through trees to shopping in the cities! We even made tortilla and our own Spanish films. We stayed in a lovely house in the mountains with a picturesque view. My favourite part was visiting Salamanca and Madrid because I got a real taste for Spanish culture’. Catherine Freeland.
With these activities and more besides, it was no surprise that a fantastic time was had by all. Miss Brabham and Mrs. Gingell were thrilled with the progress that everybody made in their Spanish and the staff at Gredos said what wonderful guests they had been and that St. Catherine’s would be welcome back any time. We will certainly be accepting the invitation!
GCSE Spanish Student Conference
On 2nd February we took 42 Year 11 pupils to a conference at the Institute of Education in London. The day consisted of presentations and interactive learning aimed at improving performance in the upcoming GCSE. Amongst the 700 strong audience our pupils stood out as they took part fully, submitting relevant questions to the team leader which were read out and competing in the Weakest Link competition. Emily Currey and Jemima Mills represented St Catherine's and Jemima was declared the overall winner.
I have really gained a lot through the Spanish Conference because we can now use the techniques that we were taught in our upcoming exams.
Sahana Sivathasan 11C
I have gained useful knowledge which I could not have gathered on my own and feel much more confident about tackling my Spanish exams.
Lili Macleary 11C
The girls came away with a very useful delegate pack and plenty of ideas to use in their preparation for Spanish GCSE.
Mrs J Gingell
Spanish trip to Barcelona to meet penfriends
Mrs J. Gingell Head of Department
Mrs M. Lawrance
Ms N. Harward
Mrs R Ortu