Learning a foreign language is the gateway to understanding other cultures. At Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School we aim to foster pupils’ curiosity and interest in a multicultural world and broaden their understanding of it. We encourage pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing. Our curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to experience real-life situations, learn new ways of thinking and develop their prior language knowledge. In developing long-life linguistic skills, we intend to provide pupils with the foundations for learning languages enabling them to pursue further language study.
Key Stage 3
All pupils study French throughout Key Stage 3 and have the opportunity to transfer their knowledge and skills to either Spanish, Japanese or Chinese. The study of a second language enables pupils to build upon their prior knowledge of French and to draw on the generic language-learning skills, which they have developed throughout KS3. For a small minority of pupils, it may appropriate to take Extra English lessons to boost their literacy skills. This is decided on a case-by-case basis with the Head of Year, SENCO, Head of English and Head of Languages. The majority of pupils continue with both languages throughout Years 7-9.
Through their study at KS3, pupils will develop fluency in the foundations of French and Spanish, Japanese or Mandarin; focusing on mastering the basics of speech to enable them to communicate with speakers of the languages about topics that are within their experiences, both in speech and writing. Along with learning new topics, reinforcing knowledge every lesson is the key aspect of learning a language: we give pupils plenty of opportunity to practise and therefore remember key vocabulary. We also intend to provide pupils with a basic level of transactional language to develop confidence when communicating abroad.
Here are some top-tips for language learning:
In Year 7 we aim to inspire pupils to enjoy and be confident in communicating in one or two foreign languages. Pupils learn to speak about themselves, their families and interests, and how to use the language for authentic communication. Year 7 pupils are introduced to the basic language patterns and grammatical features, which gives them an awareness of how languages work. We also teach language-learning skills (e.g. vocabulary learning, using online resources) to allow pupils to transfer knowledge between their languages. We encourage pupils to have an interest in the target language cultures, to appreciate differences in food, geography and lifestyle, whilst developing an appreciation of similarities and differences between target-language cultures.
In Year 8 our thematic curriculum builds on the foundations of Year 7, with pupils developing a greater understanding of grammar, in particular verbs, verb forms and tenses. We aim to support pupils to understand other countries and cultures, so that they can be more open and adaptable to new experiences, ensuring that topics contain cultural references to not only the target language country, but also the wider Francophone, Hispanic, Japanophone and Sinophone spheres.
In Year 9 pupils continue to build the lexical and grammatical foundations for further study at GCSE. Pupils are encouraged to express their ideas and thoughts in the target language(s) and understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and writing. Pupils are increasingly confident in recalling vocabulary and grammatical knowledge and applying this knowledge to communicate with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, using a variety of grammatical structures that they have learned throughout KS3.
Key Stage 4
We offer GCSEs in French, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin and students are encouraged to choose one or two languages. Pupils follow the AQA GCSE course for French, Spanish and Mandarin and the Edexcel course for Japanese. There are two tiers of entry for GCSE languages: Higher tier, where grades 9–4 are available, and Foundation tier where grades 5–1 are available. For all languages, the examination consists of four papers, covering listening, speaking, reading and writing, each weighted equally.
Key Stage 5
We offer A-Level courses in French (AQA), Spanish (AQA) and Japanese (Edexcel). For Chinese, pupils study the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) Pre-U Mandarin. This is equivalent to an A-level, recognised by universities in the UK and overseas and the qualification carries similar UCAS points to a full A level subject.
At this advanced level, pupils are taught to develop their language skills and emphasis is placed on the real world. The A-Level course covers both receptive and productive skills, firmly rooted in the target language culture with an aim for pupils to communicate in the target language about national and global issues, literature and culture
The department has 6 teaching rooms, an ICT suite and a Sanako audio laboratory, all of which have a projector and audio facilities. In lessons, we use a variety of textbooks, worksheets and activities designed to suit each class and the current topic. For KS5 students have a mixture of textbooks and access to online resources. We also have a small catalogue of DVDs in the target language that we loan out.
Pupils have the opportunity to take part in a range of well-established overseas visits to support their language learning. Trips that regularly run at KLB are:
- French exchange with Collège Denecourt (near Paris)
- Japanese exchange with Hikawa High School (Yamanashi Prefecture)
- Spanish exchanges with Colegio I.E.S. (Gran Canaria) and Colegio Altair (Madrid)
- Language trip to China (arranged through Confucius Institute at Institute of Education)
- Sixth-form French trip to Lycée Barthou (Pau)
We also have other activities going on during the course of the year to encourage pupils in their language learning, such as competitions and house challenges.