We aim to:
- provide a learning environment in which pupils can both enjoy language-learning activities and find intellectual stimulation
- develop pupils’ fluency and accuracy in the four skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing
- challenge and extend pupils of all abilities
- equip pupils to be successful in internal and public examinations and beyond
- foster a love of languages and an intellectual curiosity of one’s own language
- provide opportunities for pupils to experience French, German and Spanish in different settings and thus enhance their learning
- exploit fully modern teaching methods and resources, including ICT
Staff and facilities
The department is staffed by 10 teachers and occupies nine classrooms and one smaller room, used by our language assistants. We have two language laboratories, for which pupils are timetabled once per cycle. Our laboratories are equipped with the well-known Sanako software; L7 is a multimedia lab and L9 is a digital lab with a speaking and listening function. We pride ourselves on the quality of our classroom environment; pupils work is displayed, as well as key language and idioms. There are interactive whiteboards in almost all rooms.
Subject time per 10-day cycle
- Lower School – three lessons with half an hour of homework per week
- GCSE – five lessons with two hours of homework per week
- A-level – 10 lessons with additional individual study
Modern Foreign Languages in the Lower School
Stockport Grammar School is in the unique position of offering two Modern Foreign Languages, with parity, for the first three years. French and German are taught to all pupils in form groups from First to Third Year. This gives pupils the advantage that they have a good working knowledge of both languages and a solid foundation on which to base further language study. Spanish is introduced in Third Year when pupils select at least two languages from French, German, Spanish and Latin.
Our pupils come from a wide variety of primary schools and experiences, and for this reason, we start from scratch in 1st Form in both French and German. Those who have studied the language before find challenge in the rigorous teaching of grammar from day one.
Occasionally pupils join Stockport Grammar School with native or near native fluency in a language. These pupils are assessed and their needs met in a number of ways; sessions with the assistant outside lessons to maintain oral fluency or if their speaking and writing skills are equally fluent, a separate programme of study can be provided for pupils to follow in their lessons. Occasionally it is possible to timetable them alongside an older group. Extension measures are discussed with parents and depend very much on the individual’s needs. Pupils are not normally entered early for public examinations, as we prefer to stretch native speakers beyond the constraints of examination specifications and to allow pupils to mature before taking public exams.
Textbooks and topics
Our textbooks provide a framework for study, but they are supplemented heavily by our own materials. We currently use:
- Tricolore Total (French)
- Stimmt!/Logo (German)
- Mira Express (Spanish)
First Year topics
First Year topics covered in French include:
- where you live
- sports and hobbies
- food and drink
First Year topics covered in German include:
- self-identification, including character
- family and pets
- free time, including new technology
- shopping in town
Pupils are encouraged to speak and write at length. Activities are varied and include the use of pair work, group work and projects.
Modern Foreign Languages further up the school
We prepare pupils for the CIE IGCSE examination in French, German and Spanish. We offer Spanish as an accelerated course from Third Year, taking pupils up to the required standard in just three years. The language is available as an option to all pupils, but those who wish to opt for the subject at IGCSE must have shown proven ability in the languages.
Our results are excellent with normally at least half of all pupils achieving A* or A grades. Middle School groups have around 18 pupils and are not setted. Currently two of our teachers are examiners for CIE in French and German.
The course books used are Encore Tricolore 4, Echo and Cambridge IGCSE Spanish, but again, we use a wide variety of extra materials, most of which are our own. We study topics such as health, leisure, holidays, home, environment, work and education. Pupils are encouraged to speak and write at length for their own self-expression, as well as for the purpose of the public examination. By the end of the course, pupils can communicate effectively in the language. The course followed rewards spontaneity, imagination and accuracy and provides an excellent foundation for the study of languages at A-level and beyond.
In December of their Second Year, pupils can visit the Christmas markets of Aachen. There is a French Exchange with a college in Paris for pupils in Fourth Year and a work experience trip to Armentieres for Sixth Form students. Our German exchange has been running for over twenty years and each year around 25 Fifth Years travel to Bad Segeberg, near Lübeck to our partner school. Cinema, theatre and restaurant visits are arranged for pupils on a regular basis. We also run a biannual Spanish trip to Madrid for Middle School pupils.
There are also opportunities for pupils to receive extra help or indeed extend their knowledge. There are weekly extension sessions in all languages, open to all pupils. These are held at lunch times and cover topics beyond exam specifications e.g. poetry, non-examined literature, advanced grammar. Pupils who require extra help can attend our weekly MFL help sessions. In the run-up to public examinations, there are also revision sessions for listening and speaking skills.
Pupils from Fourth Form and upwards work with the language assistants. Our assistants help pupils with their preparation for their exam oral. Middle School pupils see the assistant on an individual basis during lesson time, once per cycle. Sixth Form pupils attend lessons with the assistant in a group of two or three once a week during a study period.
Modern foreign languages at A-level
Some of the topics will already be familiar to you from IGCSE but you will be studying them in greater breadth and depth. The areas of study include: family, marriage and relationships, modern world issues, law and order, medical advances, French culture (TV, music, theatre and film) and political culture. The IGCSE course is excellent preparation for A-level and you will find that the skills you have learnt will give you a strong foundation for success at A-level.
We cover the areas of study over the two years and in addition to this we study a literary text and a film in depth. French literature is new to most Sixth Formers and so we tackle the text gradually, allowing lots of time for understanding and discussion. Our novel, ‘L’Étranger’, one of the most famous works ever written in French, tells the story of Meursault, a fascinating and unusual character. We study the film ‘La Haine’ which deals with the themes of youth, immigration and life in the suburbs of Paris. Throughout the course, there are opportunities to discuss, debate and express your opinions in French. Weekly lessons with the French Assistant allow for consolidation of lesson work and also help to develop your spontaneity and conversational French.
Some of the topics will already be familiar to you from IGCSE but you will be studying them in greater breadth and depth. The areas of study include: family, marriage and relationships, digital media, the city of Berlin, German culture (TV, music, theatre and film) and political culture. The IGCSE course is excellent preparation for A-level and you will find that the skills you have learnt will give you a strong foundation for success at A-level.
We cover the areas of study over the two years and in addition to this we study a film and a literary text in depth – ‘Goodbye Lenin’ and ‘Die Verwandlung’ by Kafka. Studying German literature and film is new to most Sixth Formers and so we tackle each aspect gradually, allowing lots of time for understanding and discussion. ‘Goodbye Lenin’ is a fascinating film, insightful and funny in equal measures, about life in the former East Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall. ‘Die Verwandlung’, one of the most famous works ever written in German, tells the story of Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning to discover his life has taken a most unusual twist. Throughout the course, there are opportunities to discuss, debate and express your opinions in German. Weekly lessons with the German Assistant allow for consolidation of lesson work and also help to develop your spontaneity and conversational German.
This subject is open to all who have studied the subject at GCSE. The essence of the course is the development of the ability to read original Latin texts and analyse their presentation of the authors and of the Roman world. Pupils will have the opportunity to give a personal response to the poetry and prose which they study.
Latin is universally respected by universities and employers as a thorough intellectual examination. The subject combines well with any modern language, but also with Humanities subjects (particularly Classical Civilisation) and English. It is also profitably studied in conjunction with scientific courses to provide the broad curriculum base sought by universities. Latin can be continued at university as part of a Classics degree, or in conjunction with a modern language. Increasingly, pupils are continuing their studies of the Classical World at university. Students who may wish to apply for Oxbridge to read Classics should choose both Latin and Classical Civilisation at AS-level.
Proficiency in Spanish enables pupils to communicate successfully on a world stage. It affords access to the vibrant and lively culture of Spain and is becoming increasingly useful for communicating with businesses in North and South America.
Literature and film play an important role in the Spanish culture, with some very famous playwrights and directors coming from various regions in Spain. It is important for pupils to feel confident about accessing the language and culture in as many different forms as possible. At A-level a popular short novel and a film by a well-known Hispanic director are studied. This is often the first time that pupils experience film and literature in another language and can, for a lot of them, provoke a further interest in the subject.
All pupils studying Spanish have the opportunity to take part in an educational and cultural trip to Madrid, which runs during the first week of the October half-term.
Work experience trips are also available, organised by an independent company. Information about these trips can be provided on request.
The language assistant works mainly with the Sixth Form seeing each pupil between two and three times per cycle, but each Fourth and Fifth Form set also has the chance to work with him or her once per week during lessons.
Spanish Club is run once per week at lunchtime by our Spanish Assistant, and is open to all pupils who are interested in learning more about Spain and its culture.
A-level pupils are encouraged to attend the Speaking Club, also held at lunch time, to improve their fluency and confidence in spoken Spanish.