“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
The MFL department at NHS recognises the enormous importance of communication skills in our society. At the heart of our classroom experience is the desire to communicate effectively in more than one modern foreign language, to manipulate the language learnt for one’s own purpose and creativity, to provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation and develop transferable language learning skills. We offer an insight into the culture and civilisation where our languages are spoken and aim to equip our girls for further study, travel and residence abroad whilst at school and in the future. Alongside relevant and meaningful communication skills grammar is taught formally, providing a firm foundation on which to build.
The KS3 French curriculum starts in year 6 of Junior School. Provision is made for girls joining us from elsewhere in U3. In L4 both German and Spanish are introduced alongside French so that by the end of U4 girls have studied three modern foreign languages and can then make informed choices for GCSE options, where many girls choose to continue with two languages and occasionally with all three.
French, German and Spanish are offered as GCSE options at KS4 and all 3 languages are offered at AS and A2 level. GCSE. Our students perform well at all levels and achieve an excellent foundation for further linguistic studies.
GCSE topics now include themes such as media and healthy living and our sixth form students tackle controversial subjects such as global warming or the rise of the celebrity figure in our society. Cultural topics are also studied, for example the work of a particular author or film producer, or a period of history. We support our Oxbridge entrants with extra tuition.
We celebrate the rich diversity of languages spoken across Europe on the European day of Languages on 26 September with a range of activities including the sale of croissants and pains au chocolat, a European menu at lunchtime and events in the foyer. We also celebrate Europe Day on 9 May. We encourage our students to enter competitions, such as the UK Linguistics Olympiad and the MFL Spelling Bee. The department is now looking to forge greater links with the European community through the British Council’s ETwinning programme and has established links with schools in France, Germany and Spain.
We are very proud our programme of residential visits abroad. All our L4 girls go to Normandy and sample the delights of French markets as well as numerous visits which include the D Day beaches, the 3D cinema in Arromanches and Rouen. In U4 all our girls have the opportunity to visit the Cologne Christmas markets and buy their own Currywurst and Eis in the ice cream parlour as well as visits to the chocolate and sports museums. L5 to 62 German and History students have the opportunity to visit Berlin every two years and experience the language, history and culture of this vibrant capital city. During the academic year 2012-2013 we will add two more trips to our busy programme. In 2011 the Spanish sixth form students visited Barcelona with Business Studies and Economics students. We are also keen for our sixth form linguists to find themselves work experience placements abroad, and a number of our Sixth Form students do this, bringing their languages to life in real communication in the work place.
Whether for further study, the world of work or for sheer intrinsic interest, our students at all levels enjoy their language studies and the success they achieve.