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Modern Foreign Languages
Studying modern foreign languages at HMSG enables girls to communicate with clarity and confidence at an international level. Furthermore, we recognise that learning a language helps girls to discover an eye for detail, to problem solve and to broaden their understanding of modern day France, Germany and Spain. Pupils learn to express their opinions, analyse themes and develop well-justified arguments.
The ability to speak different languages is highly desirable to employers, and we make learning French, German and Spanish a fulfilling experience. Lessons are varied and exciting, incorporating song, film and literature and frequently involving cross-curricular elements such as home economics, geography and even dance.
As their language studies progress, pupils learn to communicate at a high level, and put their skills to the test at a wide variety of clubs and foreign visits. We offer trips to Paris, Nice, Aachen, Berlin, Nuremberg, Koblenz, Vienna and Salamanca.
The school’s rationale is clear and aims to equip all pupils with a basic knowledge and understanding of the two main language systems of Europe: the Romance languages of the south (Spanish and/or French) and a Germanic language of the north (German).To that end, all pupils study French in Year 7, to which German is added in Year 8.
In Year 9, Spanish is also offered and pupils choose any two of the three languages.
The aim of the courses is to teach basic vocabulary and grammar and to enable pupils to speak and write with confidence, within the limits of the language taught. We aim to inspire an interest in both the language and the culture of each country through the use of songs, magazines, DVDs, the internet, cookery and the language assistants who enable pupils to engage with real native speakers.
Topics for all languages include: self, family, hobbies, home, school and food.
End of year examinations test the four language skills; listening, reading, writing and speaking.
We aim for GCSE language-learning at HMSG to be linguistically enriching and highly motivating.
All pupils will do one MFL and a good number (30% in 2013) will do two. Occasionally, some pupils opt to do all three languages for GCSE. The course in each language builds on the solid foundations built at Key Stage 3. The department delivers the WJEC specification and approaches study via four contexts: personal and social life; local community; the world of work; the wider world.
The four language skills are examined – listening, speaking, reading and writing. Listening and reading skills are tested at the end of Year 11. Controlled assessments in speaking and writing are conducted throughout the two year course, the candidates’ best two contributing towards the final examination mark.
Pupils are encouraged to extend their learning via literature, film-study, additional grammar study and regular listening to materials in the target language. Those pupils requiring consolidation are invited to attend lunchtime clubs.
AS and A Level
The study of languages at A level is a stimulating and challenging opportunity and combines well with any other subject in either the arts or sciences.
Pupils can study French, German and Spanish at AS and A level. Russian is also offered; lessons for this take place at Monmouth School.
Girls are expected to achieve good grades at GCSE in their chosen language prior to the start of the course. They are encouraged to read French, German or Spanish newspapers and magazines, attend lectures, the theatre or cinema and trips abroad to enhance their competency and understanding of the culture of their chosen language.
The department delivers the WJEC specification and candidates study the following topics:
AS: Leisure and lifestyles and the individual and society
A2: Environmental issues and social and political issues. Pupils also study a literary text and either a film or another text.
All pupils attend conversation classes with a native speaker to develop confidence and fluency. Each examination consists of two papers; one oral and one reading, writing and listening paper. There is no coursework element.
From performing Romeo and Juliet in French to organising immersive foreign language trips each year, HMSG’s MFL department is constantly exploring new ways of making languages more exciting.
A cross-curricular approach always brings the language to life. In 2014, 120 of our girls performed in an original show, Vorsprung durch Dance, created as a joint project between the MFL and Dance departments.
As well as taking part in our well-established Nuremburg exchange, which takes place in the October half-term, German students have the opportunity to visit Berlin with the History department.
In October 2015, sixth form pupils from HMSG and Monmouth School will be able to complete an invaluable week of work experience in Koblenz, working for a diverse variety of employers.
The three day Christmas market visit to Aachen and Cologne for pupils in Year 9 is always a popular option in early December. In July this year, senior school pupils will be visiting Vienna for the first time to see its palaces and art galleries.
Alongside the Koblenz work experience, students of French will be able to combine with Monmouth School for a week of work experience in the February term of 2016.
French students in Year 8 are currently looking forward to visiting Normandy in June this year, where they will practise their French, sample cheese-making and enjoy the local sights.
Combining sport with languages, the rowing club goes to the Spanish city of Seville every year for the Easter training camp. Alongside a demanding rowing schedule, the girls will also have time to immerse themselves in the tastes, sights and sounds of Spanish culture.
A joint trip with Monmouth School to Barcelona is organised for October this year, where pupils will be introduced to the language, culture and historical sights of this impressive city.
In school, there are extension classes available in each language for pupils who would like to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the language.
Girls studying GCSEs and AS/A levels in each language are welcome to attend lunchtime sessions for extra help. An individual or small-group approach often makes a significant difference in consolidating pupils’ understanding and confidence.
Inter-school debates in the target language are becoming increasingly popular. Senior school pupils enjoy the challenge of discussing a wide variety of topics, including the benefits and negative sides to television or the future of nuclear energy.
At HMSG, we take great joy in celebrating the annual European Day of Languages in September. A variety of activities take place, including poetry-writing, cookery classes, ice-cream tasting and an international-themed lunch for the entire school in the dining hall.