In our increasingly competitive global marketplace, the demand for language skills is increasing and employers recognise the value of multi-lingual employees who have the skills and flexibility to operate in international environments. In the 2009 CBI skills survey it was reported that no less than 74% of employers want to employ people with conversational skills in a foreign language – a figure that is likely to grow. If as a nation we fail to meet these demands, employers will increasingly recruit from abroad, and when it comes to interviews, monolingual British candidates will find themselves overshadowed by foreign counterparts with two, maybe even three languages. The Modern Languages Department at Leicester Grammar School aims to address these needs fully, offering French, German and Spanish to GCSE and ‘A’ level standard, Italian to IGCSE and Mandarin Chinese on an extra-curricular basis.
French is taught in Year 6, following the popular Clic coursebook where pupils not only learn to speak and understand French at a basic level but also discover interesting facts about France and French-speaking countries in the world and start to develop strategies for language learning in general.
French is our core modern language at this stage as, alongside English, it can claim to be truly global, being spoken on all five continents and in addition is the official language of NATO, the UN and the European Court of Justice, amongst others. We follow the coursebook Équipe nouvelle 1 in addition to a wide variety of extra resources and four periods are allocated to the teaching of French each week. Examples of the topics covered are school, people’s characters, health and weather, and all teaching seeks to include an introduction to France and French culture in general. At this stage pupils are taught in forms and two homeworks are allocated per week, one of which is normally learning and the other one written.
French remains the core language in Year 8, following the course Équipe nouvelle 2, and covering areas such as clothes, transport and jobs. Pupils are taught in sets and have four lessons and two homeworks per week. In order to encourage informed decision making for Year 9 language options, taster lessons in German and Spanish are also taught.
In addition to French, which remains a core subject in Year 9, pupils have the opportunity to take up either German or Spanish as an extra modern foreign language. Three periods are allocated to French and four to German or Spanish. Given that pupils already have a firm grounding in French, teaching here starts gradually working towards GCSE, working with the coursebook AQA GCSE Expo, whereas beginners in German cover the basics quickly and thoroughly using Echo Express and likewise in Spanish with Mira Express.
Pupils may choose as their core Modern Foreign Language French, German or Spanish, depending on which language option was chosen for Year 9, and, if desired, a second language. All three languages use the AQA examination board which, from 2016, is a linear qualification where all pupils sit their examinations at the end of the course. The wide-ranging themes covered are identity and culture, local, national, international and global areas of interest, and current and future study and employment. Pupils who have excelled in languages may also be offered the opportunity to learn Italian ab initio, following the coursebook Amici and taking iGCSE after two years.
We offer French, German and Spanish in the Sixth Form. Not only do the courses improve and extend knowledge of the language but students also examine and develop their knowledge of the contemporary culture and society of the country, as well as its literature, film, technology and history. A level study is currently in a transition period whereby the first examinations of the new two year linear course will be taken in 2018. Whether French, German or Spanish is chosen, the new AQA specification follows a similar pattern across the units, the core content comprising social issues and trends, political and artistic culture and grammar. There are also options to choose within target language literary texts and films. Assessment is linear and consists of three units. Additionally, pupils undertake an independent research project on an area of their choice.
Mandarin Chinese is offered to pupils as an extra-curricular lesson at lunchtime and after school.
Italian is offered to talented linguists in Year 10 to study ab initio for two years, sitting the iGCSE examination in Year 11.
Sixth form languages students are involved in mentoring younger pupils, offering extra help to any pupil needing further support with their language learning in French, German or Spanish at any level.
All of Year 9 are encouraged to participate in the trips offered by the MFL department towards the end of the Trinity term. Five-day residential trips to Spain, France and Germany are offered.
Pupils in Year 10 opting to study German for GCSE have the opportunity to participate in the well established exchange programme with the Elisabethenschule in Hofheim am Taunus, near Frankfurt, bringing German to life for our pupils and fostering strong international relations and lifelong friendships.
In the Sixth Form, pupils are encouraged to accompany the Year 9 study trips as assistant group leaders, participate in joint trips with the History department to Toledo and Berlin, or extend their German by undertaking bespoke work experience in Frankfurt, all of which vastly enrich their experience and understanding.
European Day of Languages is always celebrated with gusto in September, starting the school year with all sorts of language tasters, games and competitions.
The Onatti Theatre Company visits annually to perform their popular French plays to pupils in Years 7 and 8, offering them a taste of French language and culture and encouraging audience participation, much to their delight.
Sixth formers are encouraged to participate in conferences at local universities and schools: in the past they have visited masterclasses in all three languages at Aston University and an AS/2 conference at Loughborough Grammar.
Year 7 pupils have enjoyed success locally and nationally in the Routes into Languages National Spelling Bee in French too.