How we intend to remove barriers
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
Our curriculum is designed to remove barriers through the promotion of literacy and oracy. We reinforce listening and reading skills through the embedding of skills and techniques such as the Reciprocal Reading technique for comprehension. Through this students not only learn how to decipher key points and facts in texts from all backgrounds, but eventually how to interpret feelings, emotions and points of view. In addition, students learn how to express themselves and their opinions effectively and appropriately in a range of social contexts, empowering their social mobility.
How we develop skills for learning
We develop learning skills, teaching techniques for the acquisition of vocabulary and the application of grammar. Students learn skills for memorisation, recall and fluency through our layered approach to revisiting topics. Vocabulary is acquired and enhanced through exposure to a range of texts, oral and written in a variety of divergent topics, settings and genre. Students analyse texts to discern emotion and feeling as well as evaluating their own learning skills, such as revision and rote learning techniques.
How we foster personal attributes
We encourage the development of personal attributes such as effective listening and self-expression. Communication skills are a cornerstone of learning languages. Through the learning of other languages, students develop tolerance, respect, personal empathy and cultural empathy. In doing so they become socially confident and economically mobile.
How we intend to enrich student experiences and broaden the horizons of students
Our department has a key role to play in broadening student horizons by exposing them to the lifestyles, literature and culture of speakers of French, German and Spanish, not just in Europe, but across the globe. We reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural diversity of world languages. We enrich student experience through the exploration of foreign media both in the classroom and as part of our enrichment activities. We organise cinema and restaurant visits, visits from external speakers and links with university departments. Wherever possible we encourage visits abroad, for example to Amiens for the Christmas Market, the Opal Coast, the Rhineland and Berlin.
Our Curriculum in Spanish
In Year 9, our curriculum is based on spiral learning, meaning we do short, easier topics in Y9, then revisit these and add more complex content in Y10 and Y11. The idea being that we are constantly reviewing so that we can learn more and remember more. We begin the year with holidays which introduces a lot of common and useful content including: using past, present and future tenses, talking about activities and giving justified opinions, using numbers and adjectives.
Then we look at school in Spain. We continue to build on skills learn in the last topic by developing the ability to give opinions on subjects, timetable and school rules. We learn three tenses present, preterite and imperfect) in order to describe primary school. Later we learn how to talk about technology and describe our free time, hobbies and cultural lives. Within these topics we also cover future tenses to talk about what we are going to do. We also describe ourselves, the family and relationships. The final topic is town and local area, in which we learn how to talk about where we live, describing what there is to do and weather. We also cover transactional language like asking for directions and going into a shop.
In terms of culture, we compare the differences between the school systems in England and the Spanish-speaking world. Students are exposed to examples of Spanish music, TV and film and Spanish-speaking towns and cities. By the end of year 9 a student will typically be able to combine four tenses (present, imperfect, preterite & future tenses as appropriate to the task) to give opinions and produce descriptions. They will be able to listen to and understand spoken passages using familiar vocabulary but in a range of unfamiliar contexts, picking out the main points and details. They should take part in spontaneous talk and respond to unpredictable parts with more complex sentences and ask questions where appropriate in conversations. Throughout the year, we go through the writing and speaking exam step by step with a series of ‘How To’ lessons, which set out how to respond to different questions on the exams. All students begin with foundation writing questions and some work up to higher.
In Year 10 we begin with Theme 1: Identity and Culture, by learning how to discuss mealtimes and daily routines and the first topic ends with illnesses and injuries. Following this, we move onto Theme 4: Future Aspirations, Study and Work. We cover jobs, part time jobs, work experience, chores and future ambitions. Afterwards we cover the simpler content in Theme 5: Social and Global dimension, focusing on describing some environmental issues and how we can help.
We then review each of the topics covered in Y9 so that students can gain confidence, develop fluency and spontaneity and be able to use the language more independently. For holidays, we learn how to respond in transactional situations like reserving a hotel or making a complaint. We then focus on more specific content in the school topic, by discussing school exchanges and trips and school achievements. We review physical and personality descriptions for the next topic and delve into making arrangements and plans using present continuous tense. For the free time topic, we again develop more complex language and independent thinking by looking at current trends and describing role models.
By the end of Year 10 a student should typically be able to demonstrate recognition of themes and ideas in longer passages and texts (including authentic sources) including some covering contemporary and cultural issues. They should be able to use combinations of up to five different tenses (present, perfect, future, imperfect and conditional). In speaking they should be able to be spontaneous and interact naturally using pronunciation and intonation which would be understood by a native speaker.
The first half term of Y11 is given over to the develop competence in Theme 4: Future Aspirations, Study and Work. We focus on talking about future plans, including applying for a job and talking about gap years. We then move onto the final few topics in Theme 5: Social and Global Dimension.This includes discussing social issues like poverty and homelessness Here students learn to discuss and convey opinions on some of the big questions of the day in Spanish. These include primarily talking about the environment and what can be done by individuals and schools to protect it.
We also learn to talk about ethical shopping and volunteering for good causes. Later we discuss major events, sporting and cultural, and discuss their effects both positive and negative. The rest of the year is spent honing examination skills.
In cultural terms we re-visit some of the major events in the Spanish-speaking world, for example the La Fería de Abril, Las Fallas, and Día de Los Muertos. By the end of the course it is hoped that a successful student will be able to draw conclusions and interpret meaning in a range of longer passages on contemporary and cultural themes. They will be able to initiate and develop conversations and discussions independently, using language creatively to exchange a wide range of thoughts and opinions. They will recognise implicit meaning in a wide range of longer texts, including extracts from literature. Students will demonstrate ability in using a wide variety of tenses (including less common tenses such as the conditional and pluperfect) and complex grammatical structures with secure control.