In Year 7 half the year group learns French and the other half learns German. All students are taught in their tutor group for the first term and then in ability-linked sets from January until the end of the year.
In Year 8 all students start a 2nd foreign language. They have a choice between Spanish and either French or German, depending on what they started in Year 7. A small number of students will have additional Maths and English support in the place of continuing with their first foreign language but the majority of students learn 2 languages in Year 8.
Grouping and Teaching/Learning Style
From the 2nd term of Year 7 all students are taught in ability-linked sets for languages. These sets are reviewed at the end of each year and students can and do move between the sets. Group size varies, with smaller groups at the weaker end of the ability range to allow for increased teacher attention and support. Lessons are taught as far as possible in the target language, but this will vary depending on the group and the work being covered in the lesson. All classes in each year group cover a similar range of topics, although higher sets would be expected to explore the grammar of the language in more detail. Every child has their own copy of a text book for each language and all classes have use of the language lab on a rota basis. In addition to text books, teachers also make use of language-learning websites, foreign films and internet clips to ensure that the language learning is varied and set in its wider cultural context.
All four skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing are taught from the start of Year 7. Shortly after Half Term of the first term of Year 7, all students sit a test which, along with teacher assessment, is used to decide groupings for the following term. All classes are assessed at regular intervals throughout the year, with different skills being tested at different times. Setting for the following year is based on a student’s performance throughout the year and teacher feedback.
Chinese is offered as an extra-curricular option. Any student can sign up for lessons, which run on a Thursday after school from 3.20- 4.20 and 4.20 – 5.20. Those students who maintain their study over a few years progress from complete beginners to GCSE standard. The GCSE exam is sat in the sixth form, when additional lessons can usually be timetabled during the school day. From Year 9 there is the opportunity to participate in a Chinese Exchange which runs every two years.