Modern Languages

It is very important to learn foreign languages and we get lots of opportunities to do this at the Vaughan

Current Pupil

In the classroom we favour a communicative approach to language learning, but acquisition of grammatical structures is at the core of our work at all levels.

Key Stage Three

French is taken by all pupils in the First, Second and Third Forms and by those pupils who have opted for the subject at Key Stage 4, in the Fourth and Fifth Forms. Spanish is taught as a second foreign language in the Second Form to all pupils in sets 1-4 for an hour a fortnight as part of the MFL allocation. Pupils in sets 1 & 2 continue with one hour a week into the Third Form, but pupils in sets 3 & 4 may continue with Spanish in addition to 3 hours of French or take Classical Civilisation. The ultimate decision as to which pupils continue with Spanish or not rests with the teaching staff, though the pupils’ viewpoints are taken into account. From September 2013, the school has adopted a two-year KS3 programme of study therefore, provision will change as follows. French will be taken by all pupils in the First and Second Forms and by those pupils who will opt for the subject at Key Stage 4 in 2015, in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Forms. Spanish will continue to be taught as a second foreign language in the Second Form to all pupils in sets 1-4 for an hour a fortnight as part of the MFL allocation and by those pupils who have opted for the subject in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Forms. Pupils will choose whether to continue with a foreign language at the end of their second year at the school.

Key Stage 4

The study of a modern foreign language is no longer compulsory in line with National Curriculum requirements. There are four sets of French and one of Spanish in the new Fourth Form. The languages available at GCSE level are French and Spanish and boys taking other languages on their own account are not exempt from this.

At Sixth Form level, French and Spanish are offered at ‘AS/A2' level.

In the First Form we aim to consolidate any knowledge of French acquired in primary schools and seek to develop the boys’ ability to speak, understand spoken and written French and to write accurately. Their areas of experience will include introducing themselves, talking about where they live, about pets, festivals and celebrations, about the weather and free time activities, out and about in town and daily home and school routines.

In the Second Form they will continue to develop their language skills in the following topic areas. Talking about food, drink and meal times, talking about more free time activities, shopping, talking about future holiday plans, talking about school and aspects of school life and talking about family life, staying with a French family.

In the Third Form the boys will develop their ability to communicate in the past, present and future including the following topic areas. Going out to cafés, bars and restaurants, talking about travel plans (rail, air, coach and boat) including recent trips. Discussing clothes, descriptions and going to a chemist’s and doctor’s. Discussing leisure activities, accepting and refusing invitations and discussing things they’ve done.

The overarching work of the department at Key Stage 3 is to develop confidence in the boys’ ability to learn a new language by laying solid foundations in language learning. We focus on strategies such as comparing pronunciation in English and French, similarities in both languages, the gender of nouns and its effect on adjectives and past participles, using qualifiers and learning about cognates. They are also taught to cope with new vocabulary, to use high frequency words, connectives, spelling patterns, work out meanings, to add more detail and to understand the sequence of words in French.

Similar topics and strategies are employed and covered in the teaching of Spanish at key stage 3.


Both French and Spanish include elements of listening, reading and speaking and writing controlled assessments, as part of the examination process; the controlled assessments are taken during the course of the Fifth Year and the listening and reading papers, at the end of the course.

The controlled assessment topics vary from year to year and from class to class and are taken from the list of prescribed topics in the AQA specification. These are as follows:

●  Home and Environment
●  Work and Education
●  Leisure
●  Lifestyle

At the core of our teaching lies the grammatical structures that form the basis of language learning. The pupils learn to understand and use nouns, articles, adjectives, adverbs, quantifiers, pronouns, verbs in a variety of tenses, prepositions, conjunctions and time indicators.


In Lower Sixth French we follow the coursebook Elan in partnership with the OCR specification and in Spanish we follow the coursebook A level Spanish for Edexcel, endorsed by Edexcel. The AS GCE is made up of two mandatory units, which are externally assessed and form 50% of the corresponding four-unit Advanced GCE.


Unit 1 is the speaking test, with a role-play and topic discussion. It represents 30% of the marks for AS (15% of A Level).

Unit 2 is a written paper, testing the other three skills and with a variety of listening, reading and writing tasks. It represents 70% of the marks for AS (35% of A Level).

The topic areas for the AS specifications are:

Aspects of daily life sub-topics

●  The family: different structures and relationships; living conditions (housing, shopping and patterns of daily life)
●  Food, drink, health, obsessions and addictions
●  Transport: trends and patterns in usage (for the individual and at local and national levels).

Leisure and entertainment sub-topics

●  Sport (including national sporting concerns and traditions)
●  Tourism and related themes: tourism as a changing phenomenon; tourism and the environment
●  Leisure activities: aspects of cultural life, e.g. film, theatre; the arts as part of leisure time.

Communication and media sub-topics

●  Communication technology: patterns and changes to communication in daily life
●  Media, e.g. written press; radio; television (roles and influences).

Education and training sub-topics

●  School and school life: individual experiences; local and national concerns
●  Work and training: individual experiences; school to work preparation, transition and aspirations.


Unit 1: Spoken Expression and Response

8-10 minute assessment
The assessment for this unit has two sections that total 50 marks

Section A

This requires students to respond to four Edexcel-set questions on a stimulus related to the student’s chosen general topic area. The teacher/examiner* will first ask two questions about the general content of the stimulus and will then follow on with two other questions that invite students to express their opinions on, or give reactions to, the stimulus.

Section B

The second part requires the teacher/examiner* to engage the student in a discussion that, although still relating to the same general topic area and its linked subtopics, moves away from the main focus of the stimulus.

Unit 2: Understanding and Written Response

2 hour 30 minute paper
The paper set for this unit has three sections.

Section A (20 marks)

Students will be required to listen to a range of authentic recorded Spanish-language material and to retrieve and convey information given in the recording by responding to a range of Spanish-language questions. Students will need to show understanding of both the general sense and specific details conveyed. The questions will elicit non-verbal responses and short answers in Spanish.

Students will have individual control of the recording and may stop, revisit and replay sections of the recording as required within the time allocated for this section (45 minutes maximum). They must make notes and answer questions within the first 45 minutes of this unit assessment and can move on to another section as soon as they are ready.

Section B (20 marks)

Students will be required to read authentic Spanish-language printed materials and to retrieve and convey information by responding to a range of mainly Spanish-language test types. The questions will elicit non-verbal responses, Spanish-language answers and English answers that require a transfer of meaning from Spanish.

Section C (30 marks)

Students will be required to write 200-220 words in the form of a letter, report or article in Spanish based on a short printed Spanish-language stimulus. Students must respond to four-six linked bullet points and demonstrate their ability to communicate accurately in Spanish using correct grammar and syntax as detailed in Appendix 6: Grammar lists.

Students will have individual control over the pace of this examination, including the listening element. However, for practical reasons, they must start the listening section first (Section A) and must complete this within the first 45 minutes.

A CD recording will be provided for each student with the examination paper.

AS General Topic Areas

·         Youth culture and concerns

·         Lifestyle: health and fitness

·         The world around us: travel, tourism, environmental issues and the Spanish-speaking world

·         Education and employment.


In Upper Sixth French we plan to continue using the coursebook Elan and in Spanish we will use A level Spanish for Edexcel.

Spoken and written sources will include material that relates to the contemporary society, cultural background and heritage of one or more of the countries or communities where the language is spoken. The topic areas for the A2 specification are:


The Advanced GCE is made up of two mandatory units at AS and two further mandatory units at A2. These A2 units are also externally assessed.

Units F703 consist of a speaking test, with the discussion of an article in the target language and topic discussion. The unit represents 15% of the marks for A-Level.

Units F704 consist of a written paper, testing the other three skills, with a variety of tasks involving comprehension and manipulation of language, as well as, an extended essay. The unit represents 35% of the marks for A-Level.

Society sub-topics:

●  Integration and exclusion: age; gender; race; religion; equality of opportunity
●  Law and order: trends of crime and punishment; civil unrest; policing
●  Unemployment: causes and consequences (local, national or global).

The environment sub-topics:

●  The individual and the environment: recycling; reducing individual energy usage and impact; local conservation
●  Energy management: alternative energy sources; changing use of fossil fuels; nuclear energy; changing energy demands
●  Pollution: causes; consequences; solutions
●  Conservation of the natural world: changing habitats; impact of man and pollution; local, national or global initiatives.

Science and technology, impact and issues sub-topics:

●  Medical progress: development and change – impacts on health care, lifestyles, ethics and beliefs
●  Scientific advances: change and innovation – impacts and issues on society, knowledge, education
●  Technological developments: change and development – impacts on lifestyles, habits, work and education.

Culture sub-topics:

  • Literature and the arts: trends, changes, influences and impacts on individuals and society
  • Political issues: changes at local and national level; impacts on the individual and society
  • Heritage and history: influence and impacts of heritage (including colonial heritage) and historical events (national and international) on contemporary society.


Unit 3: Understanding and Spoken Response

11-13 minute assessment

Students will first need to outline their chosen issue for about one minute, adopting a definite stance towards the issue. They should then defend and justify their opinions for up to four minutes. The teacher/examiner* will then initiate a spontaneous discussion in which a minimum of two further unpredictable areas of discussion will be covered. These issues may or may not relate to the chosen issue but will not require specialised factual knowledge or relate to Spanish-language culture. This unit therefore assesses advanced-level understanding as well as speaking skills.

Students will be required to take into the examination a brief written statement on an Oral chosen issue form and may refer to this in the test. More details are available in the GCE oral training guide, available on the Edexcel website ( The chosen issue does not have to relate to any of the general topic areas for this specification.

Unit 4: Research, Understanding and Written Response

2 hour 30 minute paper
The paper set for this unit has three sections.

Section A (10 marks)

A short written translation exercise to test students’ ability to transfer meaning from English into Spanish effectively. The English language stimulus will be about 80 words long.

Section B (45 marks)

A Spanish-language essay in response to one from a choice of seven questions that invite either discursive or creative writing. The discursive essay requires students to write 240-270 words in Spanish to reveal their ability to organise arguments and ideas and give a structured consideration of a general issue. The creative essay requires a different type of response (also of 240-270 words) based on an imaginative Spanish-language text or a combination of text and visual(s). Both discursive and creative questions will link to the prescribed seven topic areas.

Section C (45 marks)

A research-based essay in Spanish (240-270 words) rewards students for Spanish-language research skills linked to an area of interest to the student. This must relate to the culture and/or society of a Spanish-language country, countries or community. Students will need to draw on their knowledge and understanding of this. You will study two cultural areas in preparation for this section, a Spanish film and a South American novel.

A2 General Topic Areas

·         Youth culture and concerns

·         Lifestyle: health and fitness

·         The world around us: travel, tourism, environmental issues and the Spanish-speaking world

·         Education and employment

·         Customs, traditions, beliefs and religions

·         National and international events: past, present and future

·         Literature and the arts.

Outside the classroom

We organise a day trip to France for Lower School boys in July as part of activity days. We spend the day in the Boulogne and Calais area where the boys have the opportunity to visit a sealife aquarium, spend some time on the beach front and do some shopping in order to practise their French language skills.

We also organise an exchange trip for our pupils of French with a secondary school in the Champagne district of France. The pupils, accompanied by their French teachers spend a week with French families and experience school and daily life in France in October. Their French partners return in May the following year to spend a week with our families here in London. The exchange is of considerable value, not only in the fact that it provides a unique opportunity for the pupils to practise their spoken French but also for the cultural opportunities and development of social skills.

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