Modern Foreign Languages
At Woodbridge High School, we believe that languages are an essential part of our school curriculum. A unique feature of Woodbridge High School that we offer such a broad range of languages to our students and that most students will study two languages for at least their first two years at this school.
Which languages do students learn?
Our four curriculum languages are French, German, Russian and Spanish. The four languages studied here have been chosen due to their respective cultural, political and economic importance as major languages both in Europe and across the world.
All students in Year 7 and Year 8 learn either French or Spanish as their first foreign language and either German or Russian as their second. We structure our curriculum choices in this manner in order to give students exposure to two different languages from a linguistic point of view; a romance language and a non-romance language (either German or Russian).
Almost all students continue with one language to GCSE and we actively encourage students to continue with two. We offer all four languages at A-Level and frequently have students who choose to continue with two languages at this level.
Why are languages important?
We believe that learning a language equips students with a wide range of benefits.
Firstly, languages expose students to a world beyond their immediate surroundings and allows them to develop an awareness of and an appreciation for different cultures and ways of thinking. Secondly, developing an ability in a second (and third) language offers a range of personal benefits including improving memory and literacy skills. Thirdly, studying one or more languages improves students’ career prospects and opportunities as language skills are in demand across a wide range of careers. Furthermore, learning a language enables students to learn the skills needed of how to learn a language, which can be applied later in life to learning other languages as may be relevant to the student’s life at that stage. Experiencing the process of learning a second language allows pupils to develop empathy with people whom they encounter in daily life who speak English as a second language and appreciate how challenging it can be at times.
What will students learn?
Our curriculum places emphasis on the society and culture of the language to raise students’ aware of the wider world and that there is more to the world than their immediate surroundings. Positive attitudes are fostered by increasing awareness of different cultures. Students awareness of the benefits of language learning are raised and they achieve a sense of achievement by developing fluency in a foreign language. We aim is to equip students with communicative ability (as appropriate to the stage to which they continued their language) in one or two languages, in addition to opening their minds to different cultures and equipping them with language-learning skills that can be applied to other languages in the future.
Key Stage 3
Our KS3 curriculum is designed to allow learners to reach a stage where the language can be used for a range of common communicative purposes that they could potentially encounter in a range of everyday situations relating to professional, personal and tourism scenarios, as well as partake in discussions on wider issues such as global problems and the environment. Topics and grammatical structures will vary slightly between languages, due to specific aspects of each language (e.g. Year 7 Russian students will spend a significant amount of time learning and perfecting their ability to read and write the Russian alphabet, but our curriculum aim is the same across our four languages.
In Year 7, students will be equipped to discuss their very immediate surroundings (e.g. introductions, family, appearances, basic hobbies, school). This branches out in Year 8 to discuss wider topics (town, holidays, wider range of hobbies and preferences, relating to the media, special occasions) and in Year 9 to wider and social issues (e.g. plans for the future, protecting the environment and social issues. By the end of KS3, students will have acquired vocabulary to discuss a range of topics both linked to their own personal lives and the wider world, as well as a range of high-frequency vocabulary that is needed for common communication. They will have acquired the ability to discuss past, present, future and hypothetical events as well as the vocabulary for expressing a range of common communicative functions, such as expressing wishes, desires, likes, dislikes and recommendations.
Key Stage 4
Our KS4 curriculum builds on the knowledge from KS3, but goes further by introducing students to a much wider range of grammatical structures, thereby increasing their ability to communicate more complex ideas. Students will expand their ability to converse on a range of common topics. For example, as part of the topic of school at KS3, students will describe their subjects and teachers using basic opinions, state what is in their school and give basic information about school activities. At KS4, we build on the vocabulary and structures introduced at KS3 to widen out in scope and enable students to discuss (amongst other aspects) the characteristics of a good teacher, describing their primary school using descriptions in the past tense, discussing plans for future education and discussing problems in their school.
At the end of KS4, students will sit the Edexcel GCSE. This is structured as per the below:
4 parts of the exam. All worth equal marks:
- Listening – 25%
- Speaking – 25%
- Reading/Understanding -25%
- Writing – 25%
All take place towards the end of Year 11.
Theme 1: Identity and culture: Relationships; daily life; cultural life
Theme 2: Local area, holiday and travel. Holiday preferences, travel and tourist transactions, dealing with problems, describing your local area and wider region.
Theme 3: School: What school is like; school activities.
Theme 4: Future aspirations, study and work: Using languages beyond the classroom; ambitions, future careers.
Theme 5: International and global dimension: Sports events; music events; campaigns and good causes. Environmental issues.
Key Stage 5
At KS5, we develop students linguistic and cultural knowledge even further by enabling them to develop their language skills to a level of fluency. They will develop their skills to convey meaning, using an extended range of vocabulary and grammatical structures for both practical and intellectual purposes, to become confident, accurate and independent users of the language. Students will also develop their knowledge of the culture, society, politics and history of the target language countries, in addition to developing their ability to critically analyse a film and a literary text. Pupils will furthermore develop their research skills by completing an independent research topic on an area of interest which they choose themselves, researching exclusively in the target language.
The specific topics vary depending on the language. However, all A-Levels in a language involve studying the following:
- Changes in society of France/Germany/Spain/Russia.
- Artistic and cultural life in the countries where the language is spoken.
- Immigration and multicultural society in France/Germany/Spain/Russia.
- A specific period from French/German/Spanish/Russian history.
Students will also study one film and one literary text in the target language.
We follow the Edexcel specification at A-Level, which is structured as below:
Paper 1: Reading and Listening paper, including a translation into English (40%)
Paper 2: Writing paper: one essay about the film, one about the book, and a translation from English (30%)
Paper 3: Speaking exam: topic-based discussion and presentation of Independent Research Project (30%)
By the end of the A-Level course, students will have developed their language skills to an extremely high standard which will enable them to partake in a wide range of situations, be it personal, academic or professional, in the target language.
What can I do with my language skills?
Many of our students have gone on to study languages at university, whether as a single subject (e.g. BA in Spanish), studying two languages to degree level (e.g. French and Russian) or as part of a joint subject degree (e.g. Business and Spanish). Some students have also elected to take a language module as part of a degree in a different subject (e.g. choosing German as an optional module as part of a degree in Economics).
What extracurricular activities exist?
Each year, we run a range of residential trips abroad. Past trips have included visiting Barcelona, Berlin, Cologne, Moscow, Northern France, St Petersburg, Paris and Valencia. Trips being organised in the academic year 2022-23 include Berlin, Paris, Georgia (for Russian students) and a trip to Valencia in October 2023.