In today’s world, knowledge of modern languages is an indispensable part of education and as such the learning of languages is central to the curriculum at Sutton Grammar School. Students study at least two languages as this gives students a greater understanding of how languages work, which tenses are which and how to use and manipulate verbs and vocabulary through the constant reinforcement of learning the same techniques across two languages. For those students who only plan to study one modern language for GCSE it also helps them make an informed decision as to which language to pursue with the added benefit of gaining a deeper understanding of different cultures, people and lifestyles which will prepare students for whichever careers or interests they seek to pursue later in life.
“He who is ignorant of foreign languages knows not his own” – Goethe
Key Stage 3: Lower School
French, German and Spanish are taught at Key Stage 3. There are five forms at entry and three of these forms take French and two take German in Year 7. In Year 8 all forms continue with their first language and pick up a second language. Boys have more lessons in their second language throughout Year 8 and Year 9 so that by the end of Year 9 they are at the same level in their two chosen languages.
French, German and Spanish Courses
The course features a rigorous and comprehensive approach to grammar teaching as well as motivating and challenging topics and tasks, set in authentic contexts. Each language follows a textbook which provides a confidence-boosting structure for the students, but teachers will always supplement this with new and relevant material based on the students’ and teachers’ interests.
In French we follow the Tricolore textbooks, In German, we use the Zoom courses, and in Spanish Claro.
Evaluation is ongoing through a combination of self, peer and teacher-led assessment, in line with the Assessment for Learning [AfL] strategy. Further evaluation may take place at the end of completed coursebook Units, every few weeks, often using self and peer assessment in class time and potentially ‘open book’ or memory tests. There is an end-of-year internal examination in the Summer term.
In all our work, equal emphasis is given to the four language skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and much of the focus of our teaching is on the practical application. We go well beyond the syllabus in content and all courses involve a cultural element.
After two years of study pupils are able to understand and communicate in everyday situations, which for example arise on exchange or study trips, and on family holidays. Oral lessons with a language assistant are provided weekly to enhance individual conversation. Beyond communication skills, pupils will learn much about their language as they analyse a foreign language, and will learn how language affects and forms ideas; thus it provides a gateway to intercultural understanding.
It is possible for boys to be entered for exams in languages not taught at the school as long as they can show that they are receiving tuition from an appropriate organisation or tutor.
A request for such an entry must be submitted to the Head of MFL before the end of the Autumn Term in the year of examination.
“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.” – Nelson Mandela
In the Sixth Form, students revise and consolidate some of the structures already introduced at the higher tier of GCSE and perfect their understanding and use of grammar.
A wide variety of topics are covered during the course which will broaden and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the societies where these languages are spoken. These topics will include current affairs, the media, advertising, tourism, leisure activities, the arts, social issues, youth concerns, historical events and the world of business and industry. Students will also study in depth one book and one film. Visits abroad are organised on a regular basis.
In French, German and Spanish courses, students will be exposed to authentic materials from an early stage and will be encouraged to communicate in the target language as much as possible since the majority of lessons are conducted in the foreign language.
There are also language assistants working within the department and students will be time-tabled to spend one lesson a fortnight practising role plays and presentations with them. The overriding objective of the department is to enable students to play an active role in a world that has become completely international and in particular to open their horizons.