We believe that language learning is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences that life can offer. Modern Languages prepare you for modern life.
French, German and Spanish are offered at The Maynard. French is the main language in the Pre-Prep and Junior school with pupils starting basic lessons in the Reception class. Our ‘Language Circus’ in Year 6 continues to be popular and gives the girls a firm footing derived from one term of each modern foreign language (French, German, Spanish) to feel ready to choose in Upper 3 (Year 7).
In Upper 3 (Year 7), students must choose to study 2 out of the 4 languages (French, German, Latin, Spanish), studying each of them for one hour a week.
In Lower 4 (Year 8), to provide a greater emphasis on the spontaneous use of the language and to enable the students to have more practice in their language lessons, they are invited to concentrate on one foreign language (out of French, German, Latin and Spanish) with an increased teaching provision of 2 hours a week to indeed encourage continuity and more regular exposure to this language. This improves the girls’ language skill as shown by considerable pedagogic research. This is increased to 3 hours a week in Upper 4 (Year 9)
Over the years, we always have had small groups of talented and keen linguists who would like to take two foreign languages (with French always being part of their combination) so we make sure that provision is made for this to enable the students to pursue French as a second language in L4 and U4 at an accelerated pace, should they wish to, with one intensive French lesson a week before school.
The department makes full use of all available techniques and strategies to give the students confidence in using their language knowledge in the classroom situation. The use of the latest software and audio-visual technology all serve to enhance motivation and confidence. Wherever possible, the onus is on real communication; girls produce work that is to be read by girls of their age in other countries.
The students are also encouraged to participate in various language competitions throughout the school, both internal and external ones, which they find both challenging and rewarding.
Time spent abroad is of great value to students, giving them the opportunity to put their knowledge to use in truly authentic situations. We regularly take large numbers of girls in Upper 3 and Lower 4 (Years 7 and 8) to St Omer and in Lower 5 (Year 10) to La Rochelle (number dependent), with trips to nearby cultural attractions. The longstanding German exchange to Scharnhorst Gymnasium, Hildesheim is similarly successful and has forged many friendships for students in Upper 4 (Year 9) and above. Such foreign visits are key to improving the students’ linguistic proficiency and cultural awareness.
Our popular French, German and Spanish GCSE courses follow the AQA specification. Learning a Modern Language at GCSE will develop each student’s ability to understand and use the language effectively for practical communication in a wide variety of everyday situations. The subject also promotes skills which have a wider application such as analysis, drawing inferences and memorising. Students will develop a good understanding of grammar and gain insights into other cultures.