In Year 7, pupils study both French and Mandarin Chinese. Girls with no prior knowledge of Mandarin will be taught in a separate group and will also be offered a Mandarin Culture & Language Club at lunch time, which will help narrow the gap between the improvers and the beginners. This approach offers continuity to our Junior School pupils and gives students new to St Gabriel’s the chance to familiarise themselves with Mandarin Chinese.
In Year 8, girls will learn two modern languages; they can continue to learn French and Mandarin Chinese or they could replace one of these languages in favour of Spanish. They will then continue to learn two languages throughout Year 8 and Year 9,
Our programmes of study provide plenty of opportunities for learning in a fun and engaging way, yet all are underpinned with academic, linguistic challenge to enable pupils to develop a good understanding of the key grammatical and linguistic concepts involved in learning another language.
Learning about the culture of the countries where these languages are spoken is also an important part of the curriculum, and, by building opportunities for independent research into each year's programme, pupils improve their ability to find things out for themselves and synthesize information from a number of sources, which are key skills for the future. Pupils are also offered opportunities to take part in inter-departmental residential visits abroad as well as in a range of co-curricular activities designed specifically to broaden their cultural horizons.
Our Foreign Language Assistants are invaluable in bringing to life the languages we teach, as well as allowing pupils to develop and improve their speaking skills ready for the challenges of GCSE.
Challenge & Extension: The department has an extensive bank of films in the target languages for pupils to watch and we also subscribe to magazines tailored for each age group, to encourage wider reading for pleasure in the target language. We participate in national speaking competitions, for example, a group of Year 9 and 10 girls participated in the 2014-2015 British Council/HSBC Mandarin Chinese Speaking Competition and achieved third place out of over fifty schools. Were we proud of this achievement? Most definitely!