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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 and Second Forms and by those pupils who have opted for French in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Forms. Spanish is offered as an alternative Modern Language, though pupils may opt to study both, if they wish.  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 three sets of French and one of Spanish in each new Third 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/A-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 learning the language of the classroom, clothes and colours, family and physical description, free time activities and weather and places in town.  Their learning will be underpinned by the following grammatical structures: the present tense, gender of nouns, definite and indefinite articles, agreement of adjectives, some common irregular verbs, high frequency verbs, possessive adjectives, prepositions, the near future tense, modal verbs.

In the Second Form they will continue to develop their language skills in the following topic areas. Countries, towns and transport, daily routine and time, school subjects, shops and food items and at the café or restaurant.  Once more, grammar is a strong feature of the course, apart from the revision of structures learnt in the First Form, the following will also form a part of the course: more irregular verbs, further work on the near future tense, reflexive verbs in the present and near future tenses, connectives and more high-frequency words, more work on prepositions, learning to give and justify opinions, the perfect tense of regular, irregular and reflexive verbs, using time indicators and using the negative with tenses.

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.

GCSE

Both French and Spanish include elements of listening, reading, speaking, writing and translation as part of the examination process; all the examination papers are taken at the end of the course.

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.

The topics for each language are listed below:

Theme 1: Identity and culture

Topic 1: Me, my family and friends

  • Relationships with family and friends
  • Marriage/partnership

Topic 2: Technology in everyday life

  • Social media
  • Mobile technology

Topic 3: Free-time activities

  • Music
  • Cinema and TV
  • Food and eating out
  • Sport

Topic 4: Customs and festivals in French-speaking countries/communities

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Topic 1: Home, town, neighbourhood and region

Topic 2: Social issues

  • Charity/voluntary work
  • Healthy/unhealthy living

Topic 3: Global issues

  • The environment
  • Poverty/homelessness

Topic 4: Travel and tourism

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment

Topic 1: My studies

Topic 2: Life at school/college

Topic 3: Education post-16

Topic 4: Jobs, career choices and ambitions

AS-Level / first year of A-Level

In Lower Sixth French and Spanish we follow the course book AQA French/Spanish, approved by the AQA examination board. The AS GCE is made up of three mandatory units, which are externally assessed.  The AS is a one year, standalone qualification, which does not contribute to the A level.

The examination papers are set, as follows, for both languages:

Paper 1: Listening, Reading and Writing (1h45) 45%

Paper 2: Writing (translation into French/Spanish) and an essay question set on a book or film studied in the course of the year (1h30) 25%

Paper 3: Speaking (discussion of two sub-themes – 12-14 mins) 30%

French topics

Social issues and trends

Students must study the following themes and sub-themes in relation to at least one French-speaking country. Students must study the themes and sub-themes using a range of sources, including material from online media.

Aspects of French-speaking society: current trends

Students may study all sub-themes in relation to any French-speaking country or countries.

The changing nature of family (La famille en voie de changement)

The ‘cyber-society’ (La « cyber-société »)

The place of voluntary work (Le rôle du bénévolat)

Artistic culture

Students must study the following themes and sub-themes in relation to at least one French-speaking country.

Artistic culture in the French-speaking world

Students may study all sub-themes in relation to any French-speaking country or countries.

A culture proud of its heritage (Une culture fière de son patrimoine)

Contemporary francophone music (La musique francophone contemporaine)

Cinema: the 7th art form (Cinéma : le septième art)

Spanish topics

Social issues and trends

Students must study the following themes and sub-themes in relation to at least one Spanish-speaking country. Students must study the themes and sub-themes using a range of sources, including material from online media.

Aspects of Hispanic society

Students may study all sub-themes in relation to any Spanish-speaking country or countries.

Modern and traditional values (Los valores tradicionales y modernos)

Cyberspace (El ciberespacio)

Equal rights (La igualdad de los sexos)

Artistic culture

Students must study the following themes and sub-themes in relation to at least one Spanish-speaking country.

Artistic culture in the Hispanic world

Students must study the sub-theme of Spanish regional identity in relation to Spain. Students may study the remaining sub-themes in relation to any Spanish-speaking country or countries.

Modern day idols (La influencia de los ídolos)

Spanish regional identity (La identidad regional en España)

Cultural heritage (El patrimonio cultural)

A-Level

In the Upper Sixth we plan to adopt the coursebooks AQA A level French/Spanish, also approved by AQA.

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 A level GCE is made up of three mandatory units, which are also externally assessed.

The examination papers are set, as follows, for both languages:

Paper 1: Listening, Reading and Writing – translation into French and English (2h30) 50%

Paper 2: Writing - two essay questions on two set texts/films or one text and one film, studied in the course of the year (2h) 20%

Paper 3: Speaking (discussion of one sub-theme and presentation of an individual research project – 21-23 mins) 30%

French

In addition to the AS topic areas listed above, students must study the themes and sub-themes below in relation to at least one French-speaking country.

Social issues and trends

Aspects of French-speaking society: current issues

Students may study all sub-themes in relation to any French-speaking country or countries.

Positive features of a diverse society (Les aspects positifs d’une société diverse)

Life for the marginalised (Quelle vie pour les marginalisés ? )

How criminals are treated (Comment on traite les criminels)

Political and artistic culture

Aspects of political life in the French-speaking world

Students may study all sub-themes in relation to any French-speaking country or countries.

Teenagers, the right to vote and political commitment (Les ados, le droit de vote et l’engagement politique)

Demonstrations, strikes – who holds the power?

(manifestations, grèves – à qui le pouvoir?)

Politics and immigration (La politique et l’immigration)

Spanish

In addition to the AS topic areas listed above, students must study the themes and sub-themes below in relation to at least one Spanish-speaking country.

Social issues and trends

Multiculturalism in Hispanic society

Students may study all sub-themes in relation to any Spanish-speaking country or countries.

Immigration (La inmigración)

Racism (El racismo)

Integration (La convivencia)

Political and artistic culture

Aspects of political life in the Hispanic world

Students must study Monarchies and dictatorships in relation to any relevant Spanish-speaking country or countries. Students may study the remaining sub-themes in relation to any Spanish-speaking country or countries.

Today’s youth, tomorrow’s citizens (Jóvenes de hoy, ciudadanos del mañana)

Monarchies and dictatorships (Monarquías y dictaduras)

Popular movements (Movimientos populares)

Outside the classroom

As part of Activity Days in July, we organise a day trip to France for Lower School boys. 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.

As part of the Extended Curriculum also in July, we offer a Languages Day for our First Form pupils, when they have the opportunity to take part in a number of activities, such as a game of Pétanque, a role-play in a simulated French café, beginner’s Italian and a treasure hunt in French, for example.

We have also been running 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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