"Languages are the pedigree of nations" (Dr Samuel Johnson)
We aim to foster a love for the countries where the languages are spoken, develop an appreciation for the different cultures and generate an enthusiasm for learning the languages. We strive to create a secure learning environment within the language classroom so that each girl, whatever her level or ability, feels comfortable participating fully and expressing herself. We endeavour to enable all girls to achieve their potential, thus embracing not only the idea of communicative competence, but also that of academic excellence.
We firmly believe that learning a language is an enjoyable experience as well as an important factor in helping pupils to become global citizens, enabling them not only to acquire knowledge and skills in a foreign language but also to broaden their minds, giving them the tools necessary to rise to new challenges both in their own country and abroad.
The Department consists of 4 full-time, and 3 part-time teachers, 4 foreign language assistants and a visiting teacher from China. In addition to the standard curriculum, private tuition is also currently available in French, Chinese, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish at both GCSE and A Level. Should there be a demand for tuition in an additional language we would so our best to make this possible.
All girls joining St Mary’s in LIV Form are invited to learn either one or two languages, from a choice of three: French, German, Spanish. They commit to studying this/these languages for their first two years at St Mary's. Girls are introduced to Mandarin and Chinese culture in small groups for one period per week. As the girls joining St Mary's will come with varying levels of French, they are assessed in the first half of term and the girls are divided into ability sets by November.
In the MIV Form all girls continue with their chosen language(s) and will have three lessons per week of each language studied. They will also continue with one period per week of Mandarin.
In UIV Form most girls will study two Modern Foreign Languages and a good number will study three. There is a beginners’ group in Spanish and, when numbers warrant it, in German. These groups have an extra lesson per week and work at a fast pace so that they complete the foundation course and are suitably placed to start the two-year course (leading to either IGCSE or GCSE) in September of LV Form. Additionally, it is possible to continue with Mandarin.
GCSE and IGCSE
All girls study at least one Modern Foreign Language to GCSE/IGCSE level, and many choose to learn at least two. The Cambridge IGCSE is assessed through terminal examination, and the AQA GCSE includes an element of controlled assessment. Our more able linguists embark upon their IGCSE course in French and Spanish in Year 9 and are entered for their examination early. Girls preparing IGCSE/GCSE have one conversation lesson per week in addition to their normal timetabled lessons.
AS and A Level
AS and A Level are offered in French, German and Spanish at St Mary's and girls are prepared for the AQA specification. The A level course requires candidate to study two cultural topics and at least one will be of a literary nature. We also prepare students for Oxbridge entry with success and a number of our linguists go on to study languages at university. All girls receive two conversation/news coverage lessons per week per language.
We have an exciting programme of extra-curricular activities in order to provide opportunities for the girls to appreciate the culture from the countries of their target language, whilst put the language that they have learn within the classroom into practice, which complements the work carried out in the classroom. To give a flavour, we have recently organised several theatre visits to see French, German and Spanish plays, cinema trips, lectures, film workshops and courses for girls of all ages, Sixth Form French Study Day, a Modern Foreign Languages and Design Technology Challenge, and various GCSE Speaking Competition. Enrichment weeks cross-curricular workshops are also often planned with the latest being a morning devoted to Venetian Masks. Study-visits and family stays to France, German and Spain are also organised on an annual basis: Münster, Saint-Malo, Seville, Montpellier being a few of the latest destinations, whilst a group of girls visited China last Easter.
Mrs Christiane Strudwick
Head of Modern Foreign Languages