The Modern Languages Faculty (Spanish and French)
All Modern Languages staff have a degree in either French or Spanish or in both, and have spent an extended period of at least one year living abroad. The teachers in the John of Gaunt MFL faculty are all passionate about the languages and culture of other countries, and we endeavour to pass on this passion and interest to our students.
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
Year 7 students all start the school learning Spanish and will continue this same language throughout their time at the school. In year 8 our most able linguists start French while continuing with Spanish.
Housed upstairs in the Dunston building, our classrooms and corridors are bright, cheerful and well maintained with plenty of learning stimulus material on the walls.
The resources we use in lessons are modern and contemporary. Every teacher uses interactive materials in the classroom via a laptop and projector – many of our resources are produced in-house to suit each individual class and teacher – and we also use a wide variety of commercially produced materials such as Boardworks, DVDs, websites and games. We have a large library of textbooks, listening material, past papers and worksheets which are also used to complement our electronic resources. In lessons, we use a huge variety of methods to help our students make good progress, for example role plays, word games, sentence construction on mini-whiteboards, songs, creative work, assessment for learning, dictionary skills… and many more.
All classes cover all four skills, Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing and include a variety of activities, allowing students to work individually, in pairs and in small groups. One of these 4 skill areas is tested at the end of each term, which allows students to be able to track their progress and identify possible areas that could be developed.
During KS3, students will learn the basics of the language during the first term, so that they are able to understand Spanish sound patterns and ask for and give personal information. They cover the topics of school, house and home, family, free time and shopping, the area where they live, jobs, food, health, holidays, and customs and festivals.
In Year 8, those students starting to learn French will learn how to ask for and give personal details and describe others. They will also cover the following topic areas: House and home, around the town, daily routine and school and free time activities.
To support the language learning, we offer a residential trip to Suances near Santander to all Year 7 students which takes place in the July of Year 7.
Key Stage 4
The KS4 GCSE curriculum is based on the AQA syllabus and includes topic areas such as ‘My Holidays’, ‘Healthy Lifestyles’, ‘The Environment’ and ‘Work’.
In lessons, our students build their spoken language skills and improve their pronunciation so that they are able to hold conversations on the topics studied. They build and develop greater independence in their written work and receptive skills (listening and reading). All students take home a leaflet for their parents at the start of year 10 giving full details of the GCSE examinations. This leaflet explains how parents can help their sons and daughters to do their very best in the GCSE.
French & Spanish GCSE course
The subject covers the following topics:
Theme 1: Identity and culture
Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest
Theme 3: Current and future study and employment
How is this course assessed?
- Writing exam 25%
- Speaking exam 25%
- Listening exam 25%
- Reading exam 25%
All exams are sat in May of year 11 and are entered at either Foundation or Higher Tier
Key Stage 5
Our A level qualifications are the AQA specification in Spanish or French and include the study of topics which include social issues and trends, political and artistic culture as well as the study of film and literature.
Our students have the opportunity to sign up for paid classes with our Spanish or French native speaker Foreign Language Assistants in order to boost their speaking skills on a one-to-one basis. Students have unlimited access to our satellite TV and computer facilities in our MFL common room, as well as our library of reading and reference material.
We know that spending time abroad is the best way to really appreciate a language and culture, and we therefore offer a varied programme of visits abroad.
In the summer of year 7 we take students away to Spain. For many students this is their first time away from home and for some it is their first taste of a foreign country. During the visit the students have a workbook and diary to complete which gives them the opportunity to practise their language skills in the hotel, in cafés, shops and markets. They also learn about life in that country via a series of visits to local attractions and of course they extend their social skills!
Top set students in year 8 will have the opportunity to visit France, with similar activities and enrichment opportunities. We also build in a visit to a CWGC cemetery, so we can give students the opportunity to see some History up close.
Students in years 9 and 10 are offered the opportunity to participate in an exchange visit. This involves the student being paired with a student in our partner school in Spain or France and the group travels together to stay with partner families. The group meets each day for visits and excursions, while the evenings and weekend are spent with the family. The students are immersed as much as possible in the language and make a scrapbook and diary chronicling their time away.
Although it can be a daunting experience, an exchange is always memorable and often life-changing, with lasting international friendships formed and a love of the language leading to future career choices and opportunities.
For many of our year 12 and 13 students the most memorable part of their Spanish or French studies is when they go to Spain or France for a week’s work experience. Not many schools give their students the chance for such autonomy at this age. The students travel with a specialist company, stay in a hotel together and have language lessons at the hosting academy for part of the day, and spend part of the day in local hotels, bars and restaurants for work experience. As well as developing their linguistic skills, this trip is usually the students’ first taste of independent travelling, and they always return in great excitement about their achievements!
Every year, students leave John of Gaunt to study languages at university, whether continuing with the language they learnt at school, or beginning a completely new one, such as Arabic, Italian, Swedish or Korean.
Some of these students build in a gap year before starting university, and, thanks to their languages studies with us, have been able to travel to places such as Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico and Spain in order to work or participate in volunteer schemes.
We are delighted to hear that many of our ex-students have successfully graduated from university and are using their language skills in such professions as the law, teaching and e-commerce.
They all started John of Gaunt as beginners but are now fully fledged linguists – this could be you in the future!