We started off the year in Languages celebrating excellent A Level results, with Ariana and Isabel achieving an A grade in French whilst Simrit achieved A* in our last ever cohort of German.
Our GCSE results were clearly above national figures, with over 28% of the cohort achieving a grade 7 or better. For this first year of the new specifications, we were delighted as many candidates achieved a well-deserved grade 9 – the year group worked hard and it paid off!
At the end of September, we organised Tutor Group activities around the European Day of Languages, where all tutor groups had activities to do according to their year group. In our annual Languages Assembly, we looked at how language influences the way with thought, whether words are feminine or masculine or even at how different concepts are expressed differently. One aboriginal language does not hav the equivalent of “right” and “left” for example, using instead cardinal directions.
The Onatti Theatre Company visited the school twice, performing plays in French and Spanish. As always, the actors were hilarious and some pupils even took part. This provided a perfect opportunity to enjoy and develop language skills without work!
In November, Year 11 pupils were offered the chance to participate in a Saturday workshop to prepare for their mock examinations. With the advent of the new style GCSE, this was a perfect opportunity to practise Speaking and Writing skills, preparing in particular for the nerve-wracking speaking examination. A vast majority of pupils worked hard for these and the experience was useful for candidates and teachers alike, becoming confident with the new specifications.
The term came to a festive close with an eagerly anticipated trip to Lille Christmas market, with some pupils making a trip to Lille a yearly event. This proved to be another very successful day spent discovering this beautiful French town where pupils had time for shopping and sampling the delicious continental food in the market. Fifty pupils travelled by coach for the day and had fun looking round the market, buying lots of Christmas presents and riding on the ferris wheel.
For the French students of years 9, 10 and 11, the highlight of the year has to be the short residential trip to the Opal Coast. 30 pupils went to visit this northern region of France in February, developing their French and enjoying the visits organised for them. We stayed in beautiful Le Touquet and brushed upon our history as well as enjoying local towns. We will continue offering the chance to discover a region of France or Spain every year, alternating countries: the next trip is to southern Spain in Spring 2020. Such trips provide a great and fun opportunity to discover another place and culture, whilst developing language skills.
This year, a team of five Year 8 pupils tackled the SOAS Languages Challenge. The challenge involved our pupils competing against other schools to complete a variety of cross-curricular tasks in French, Spanish or any other language throughout the year. Their commendable commitment and hard work was acknowledged by the challenge’s judges. This year, two projects, a science project in Portuguese and an account of an ancient tale in Italian, were showcased during the Languages Challenge Award ceremony. After four successful years, we are looking forward to other groups taking up the baton of using languages creatively in 2019-2020.
The department continued to organise the Spelling Bee competition with our year 7 in French and , for the first time, organised the Translation Bee with our Year 8 in both French and Spanish. After school heats, three pupils represented the school in the regional final in both competitions, doing us proud in the midst of many private and selective schools. We are looking forward to continuing these schemes, developing pupils’ spelling, vocabulary and grammar skills.
For the second time this year, Year 8 pupils all took part in the St Mary’s University Poetry competition. After school heats, the finalists represented the school at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, in June. A perfect way to push yourself outside of your comfort zone whilst developing your love of languages, literature and declamation. This event rounds up a very busy 2018-2019 and we look forward to helping pupils enrich their learning experience, develop their independence and celebrate cultural differences in 2019-2020.