In Key Stage 3 students have the opportunity to begin a learning journey in either French or Spanish and are taught based on methods guided by current research in the field of language-learning. Students build their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through sentence builders, authentic comprehension tasks, dialogue activities and scaffolded written tasks. Students also build their long-term memory of key language though regular quizzing and feedback. Each year, students’ learning is assessed through reading, listening and writing exams in January and June, while speaking is developed consistently in class time.
Year 7 establishes the core foundations for language learning at Walthamstow Academy, ensuring that students can introduce themselves and describe both themselves and members of their family, along with where they live and their experience of school. We build students’ confidence, particularly in the first term, with a focus on key phonics in French and Spanish using memorable actions and images. Students use this confidence to comprehend, decode and create language involving basic description; regular and irregular verb conjugation; present and future tenses; opinions; negatives; questions and adverbs.
Year 8 units in French and Spanish begin to draw on some key topics from the GCSE course to expand students’ ability to comprehend and communicate language involving how they spend their free time; where they go and what they do on holiday; their health and daily routine; and their future plans after school. Students are encouraged to extend their flexibility in speaking and writing tasks and are introduced to higher level structures such as comparatives, while also building their repertoire of tenses with introductions to the imperfect and perfect, along with reflexive verb structures.
In this critical year for language learners, when they make a decision as to whether or not to pursue a GCSE language qualification, we continue to draw on and adapt the themes of Identity and Culture, and Local, national, international and global areas of interest, from the GCSE syllabus to guide the curiosity of our students beyond our borders. After a unit on relationships with family and friends, compare and contrast festivals, traditions and cities in a variety of francophone and hispanophone countries. They also study the environment, charity involvement and children’s experience around the world, employing a range of higher-level structures and tenses in order to decode and create more articulate language.
We encourage all of our students to pursue a GCSE language qualification because we know that:
- Students with language skills stand out from the crowd and have the edge in the global job market.
- The Russel Group – a group of 24 universities with a record for academic achievement – has named languages as subjects that open doors to more degrees at universities.
- Language skills open up life-changing opportunities to travel and work abroad.
- Language learning builds resilience and independence which improves students’ confidence to question the familiar and to discover the unfamiliar.
- Languages combine well with any other subject for further study.
Students at Walthamstow Academy have opportunities to explore film and theatre events in excursions to institutions such as the French Institute in South Kensington and the Cervantes Theatre in Borough. There is also an after school Mandarin club which runs every week in school and is open to all. We plan for students in KS3 and KS4 to have the chance to take part in day trips and residentials to France and Spain in the post-Brexit 2020-21 academic year.