Powerful Knowledge in Languages
Modern and Ancient Languages provide a way of transcending cultural barriers, allowing students to see their world from a different viewpoint. It prompts them to question what is ‘normal’, fosters their curiosity and deepens their understanding of the world as a rich and diverse place filled with different customs, perspectives, history, arts, literature and ways of communicating.
It also affords students the chance to understand the codes which exist behind languages and how these might interplay, or be at odds with English. They will be able to recognise that rules and patterns exist throughout languages and that these may well be influenced by the impact of culture. Students can start to build a more powerful understanding of their own language through questioning how we put together words, sentences and text.
One particularly powerful skill which is developed in language learning is the ability to speak and think simultaneously in a foreign language. Students are challenged to respond without preparation in discussions in class and this leads to them forming strong oracy skills.
Speak First – Students are learning how to communicate in another language and this begins with speech. Students will build up a level of confidence which allows them to respond naturally to each other and their teacher, being comfortable using the taught language, aiming to achieve excellent pronunciation. Students are exposed to little or no English during lessons so that students are immersed in the sounds and nuances of the target language as well as hearing new language modelled to them by their teacher.
Creative and Cultural Contexts – We want students to learn a language through a range of compelling contexts which will take them beyond their previous experiences and engage them through creative themes. Students learn language through contexts such as Fairy Tales, The Rainforest, Artists, Architects and Writers, Festivals, Mysteries and Film amongst others.
Grammar Progression – The curriculum in Languages is driven by grammar rather than vocabulary or topics. Language does not exist in isolation and students must understand how it is built and interconnected.
The curriculum has been carefully designed so that grammar is sequenced according to threshold concepts, which once understood act as a portal to new ways of thinking about language. Grammar components are then interleaved to allow students to master them at various stages.
Language patterns are exposed, so that students can take ownership of their language learning and ultimately develop the ability to manipulate the language to express themselves in more flexible and creative ways.
Retrieval Practice – This is at the heart of our language learning methodology. The skill of speaking and thinking simultaneously only develops when students are able to successfully store and retrieve information from their long-term memory. Out-of-lesson learning, alongside well-planned retrieval in lessons, enables students to frequently access past vocabulary and concepts and this eradicates the need for rote learning or cramming. This allows them to truly become speakers, and writers, of a language.
Whilst we want students to achieve the very best examination results, our Languages curriculum goes beyond what is examinable. It is vital that students have the opportunity to experience as many of the different sides to learning a language as possible. In order to support this, we offer a range of enrichment opportunities both within and outside of lessons. These include poetry, debating and spelling competitions, opportunities to explore festivals and traditions in other countries, language taster sessions in new languages, visits abroad to the countries where the taught languages are spoken, visiting speakers from universities and the opportunity to mentor and teach younger students.