Modern Foreign Languages
We are delighted to offer French, German and Spanish at Withington. In Years 7 to 9, girls study two of the three languages, with lessons taught by language specialists and native speakers. All pupils continue with at least one language to GCSE and languages are also a popular choice at A Level.
With superb facilities and access to digital technologies, we are committed to achieving the best outcomes for pupils. Studying languages at Withington has been made even more enjoyable with our state-of-the-art Language Laboratory with Sanako software which facilitates vocabulary acquisition and interaction. ICT is integrated into the schemes of work with all materials and resources available to pupils in a digital format.
In our globalised world, the ability to speak more than one language can open doors for travel, study and work. Our aim is not only to equip pupils with the skills to become confident and competent communicators but also to inspire a life-long love of languages and an appreciation for different cultures.
We offer an exciting programme of activities to enhance the learning experience outside the classroom. From trips abroad, film screenings, poetry and debating competitions to activities organised by our Sixth Form language ambassadors, there is something for everyone to enjoy!
The French Department has adopted the Pearson online Dynamo course in Years 7 to 9. This course adopts a pupil-friendly active approach to the challenges of learning grammar, promoting active engagement and building on logical progression, whilst stimulating an interest in and understanding of France and the French speaking world.
Girls enjoy accessing the material on their devices in lessons and from the outset they practise the four key skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. The course provides a lively and relevant language learning experience with a clear grammatical and structural progression incorporating a range of learning techniques. French is used as much as possible as the normal means of communication in the classroom.
The Sanako 1200 software allows girls to test vocabulary knowledge against the clock and learn new material with the voice insert function. The Department subscribes to the acclaimed Linguascope website and pupils regularly use the Task Magic authoring package and websites such as languages online and francetvinfo.
There is a biennial trip for Lower and Upper Fourth pupils to France. This takes place at the start of the summer holiday and gives girls the opportunity to discover more about French culture and to try out their newly acquired language skills. We stay in Paris and Poitiers and visit Parc Astérix, the Château of Blois, the Puy du Fou, which is a theme park with breath-taking historical re-enactments, and we finish our visit with a day in Futuroscope, a theme park based upon multimedia, cinematographic and audio-visual techniques of the future. At GCSE and Sixth Form level we have offered study trips to Montpellier and are hoping to reinstate our successful exchange partnership with the Lycée des Flandres in Hazebrouck.
“I like French because our teacher teaches us lots of vocab and lets us all speak so we get a chance to practise.”
A Year 7 pupil
German is taught as a dynamic, vibrant and relevant Modern Foreign Language. Our Key Stage 3 course equips them rapidly and accurately to express themselves in German on topics as diverse as food, hobbies, education and fashion. The four key skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing are practised from an early stage. Our aim is to enable the girls to develop competence and confidence in German whilst also learning about the traditions and the way of life in the countries in which the language is spoken.
In Years 7, 8 and 9 we aim to give pupils a solid grounding in the main foundations of the language upon which we build in the GCSE years and beyond. We teach using the Zoom! course in Key Stage 3, and use interactive, electronic course books at GCSE and A Level which are tailored to the latest exam specifications. This allows students to access a wealth of features to support them in their learning, as well as providing opportunities for stretching and challenging their language skills. At all levels we encourage pupils to strive for an accurate command of the basics of German, and also to enjoy language learning and equip them to deal with situations in a German-speaking country.
Extra-Curricular and Trips
We run a weekly German Culture Club for girls in Year 9, looking at traditions, songs and German-language media. For older girls, there is a weekly German Conversation Club. When we are once again able to travel freely, we look forward to reintroducing both our Key Stage 3 trip to Berlin, where we visit local areas of cultural and educational interest, and our Language Study Trip for girls in Key Stages 4 and 5 in October Half Term, where we aim to combine language lessons with excursions to places of interest. Most recently, we went to Heidelberg.
“We do lots of fun activities like singing and we get to read our poems which helps us memorise what we have learnt.”
A Year 7 pupil
The Viva series of books is used to introduce the pupils to the Spanish Language through both topics and grammar. Grammar is considered an integral part of teaching a language and it plays a central role. Wherever possible, Spanish is used in class to encourage the girls to develop their listening skills and speaking skills.
For the GCSE course, the topic work is taught through the Viva textbook. The different skills of Reading, Listening, Speaking or Writing needed to master a language are all practised during the four periods per week allocated to the GCSE. The grammar necessary is covered alongside these skills to ensure proficiency in Spanish. Once a week, classes are delivered in the Language Laboratory where pupils get to use and refine their spoken Spanish and to listen to more challenging passages independently. Our aim is for pupils to develop an appreciation for the Spanish Language and Culture and to develop a positive experience with language learning.
In order to enhance learning in School, an Exchange is organised every year to Barcelona offering first-hand experience in both the language and the culture. This is organised with the school ‘La Vall’ in the north of Barcelona and gives the girls an opportunity to speak the language amongst native speakers and experience the Spanish culture first-hand. In addition, day trips are organised in Manchester to HOME or Instituto Cervantes to see films or attend lectures conducted in Spanish.
“Our teacher makes the lessons fun at the same time as learning, which is always in steps and doesn’t seem overwhelming.”
A Year 7 pupil
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