‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head; if you talk to him in his own language, it goes to his heart.’
At Bishop’s – we value the knowledge, skills and understanding developed in a study of a foreign language and want to share our love of languages with our students.
There are many desired outcomes from learning a language. These include improved communication skills, better grammatical awareness, inter-cultural understanding, enjoyment and a sense of achievement. Language knowledge can be useful in many areas, including business, tourism, education, medicine and industry and language skills are valued by colleges, universities and employers world-wide.
All students at Bishop’s study French for 3 hours per week in year 7 as their main modern foreign language. At the end of Year 7, the top 25% of the year group is given the opportunity to study Spanish as a second language in Year 8 alongside French. Dual linguists are selected based on the results from milestone tests in the autumn and spring terms of Year 7, performance in lessons, enthusiasm for language learning and an end of year assessment. From Year 8, single linguists continue to progress in their one language, having 2 lessons per week, whilst dual linguists have a more condensed programme of study over years 8 and 9, studying 2 languages simultaneously, with 6 hours per fortnight divided between the two languages, therefore progressing rapidly towards their targets.
In lessons, students participate in a range of activities which develop their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, with an emphasis on producing language. Students are encouraged to develop independent writing skills but also spend quite a high proportion of their time speaking the target language to improve fluency and confidence. We use a range of resources including authentic materials, often from the Internet. We subscribe to several language learning websites and students can play games aimed at testing vocabulary and encouraging language retention. Our text books are differentiated, to give all students the best opportunity to fulfil their potential and each book is linked to an online learning platform, enabling us to set homework tasks that complement what has been taught in class.
In Key Stage 3, students sit one milestone assessment per term, based on the skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. These are graded in line with GCSE grades 1-9 criteria. Students record the grades they achieve in the front of their exercise books. In addition, they have a record of their target for the current academic year, so that they and parents/carers can see the progress they are making towards their target.
At Key Stage 4, students at Bishops are encouraged to continue studying a language to GCSE as we are proud to support the school’s desire to provide a well-balanced, ‘Ebacc’ curriculum for as many students as possible. Many students who have studied 2 languages at Key Stage 3 select just one of their languages for GCSE, however we do have several ‘dual linguists’ each year who decide to study for 2 GCSEs in Modern Languages.
In addition to the languages we teach, we encourage students with other language skills to gain GCSE accreditation for these. Over the past few years we have had tremendous success with students gaining top grade GCSEs in Japanese, Portuguese, Urdu, Arabic, Chinese and Italian.