Modern Foreign Languages
Gresham’s Prep and Pre-Prep Schools have a forward looking and innovative approach to the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages, in which children from Years 2-5 learn a variety of languages.
The reason for this approach is that we believe that exposure to a variety of modern languages broadens pupils’ overall understanding and enables them to become more rounded linguists in the longer term. It focuses on encouraging children to enjoy communication in different languages and to be excited by language learning. All children learn French from Year 6 and have the opportunity to learn Spanish from Year 7.
Years 4 and 5
In Year 4 pupils study German. They follow the Early Start course, complimented by a variety of other material. They learn to hold simple conversations, using a wide range of vocabulary. Pupils perform as waiters for our German Konditorei on Open Morning in October, allowing them to show off some of their skills and increase their confidence. They regularly perform German songs in our school assembly.
In Year 5 pupils study Spanish with a view to adding to the knowledge of how foreign languages fit together that they have built studying German in Year 4. Similar to Year 4, the focus is on learning how to have a basic conversation about themselves and their family as well as being able to conduct simple transactions. There is a more explicit approach to common grammar themes in Year 5.
In both Year 4 and Year 5, written work is completed for each new vocabulary segment thus cementing children’s knowledge and giving them a record to keep of their newly acquired language skills. In addition to learning the language, pupils also learn about the geography, history and culture of Germany and the Hispanic world.
Years 6 to 8
All pupils learn French from Year 6. They are split into ability based sets from this point. From Year 7, as well their four timetabled lessons children also have a weekly French Prep. We ensure that French lessons are differentiated to suit the needs of each child. We follow the communicative approach towards language teaching and encourage children to speak French as much as possible, however we also consider the teaching of grammar to be very important. Pupils are assessed at the end of each unit in listening, speaking, reading and writing as well having regular vocabulary tests. We work very closely with Gresham’s Senior School ensuring continuity from Year 8 into Year 9. At the beginning of the Michaelmas term there is a French trip to Le Touquet organised for Year 8 pupils.
When pupils enter Key Stage 3, they can then make informed decisions about which two languages they would like to study (French, Spanish and Latin are firm favourites).The Spanish course which we follow has been designed as part of the Year 7-9 curriculum and essentially marks the start of the pupils’ journey to GCSE. We have recently introduced an innovative and exciting new course in the form of the Zoom textbook and accompanying resources. The focus is very much on learning language which would be of practical use were the pupils to travel to a Spanish speaking country as well as reinforcing and furthering pupils’ understanding of grammar. It is very much our hope that pupils are inspired and enthused by the language at the same time as understanding the rigour and accuracy are of tantamount importance.
We are fortunate to be able to welcome our Senior School language assistants to some of our lessons in all three languages, giving the children the opportunity to speak with and ask questions of a ‘native’ of the country. Pupils who have lived abroad or have some knowledge of Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, Ancient Greek, Cantonese or Dutch can tap into our expert linguists to further their knowledge.