Modern Foreign Languages
The learning of languages has always played an important role at The Downs School. As well as our academic language learning in the classroom, we aim to develop an international dimension to the school and broaden the experience of many of our students. Central to this are our Foreign Language Assistants, native speakers who work with all year groups to improve their spoken language and also talk about what life is like in their home countries. Many trips are organised annually and many students have continued to study languages in Higher Education.
Exchange visits and trips are well established and run annually including: French Exchange, German Exchange, Spanish Exchange, Boulogne Day trip
In Key Stage 3 all students learn French in Year 7 and in addition German or Spanish from Year 8. Students study their two languages through to the end of Year 9. In Key Stage 4 the majority of students continue to study at least one language to GCSE with some students studying two. All three languages are offered at A level.
GCSE Exam Board
GCSE Course Aims
- Development of understanding of the spoken and written forms of the language in a range of contexts
- Development of the ability to communicate effectively in the language
- Development of the ability to understand the grammar of the language
- Development of the understanding and use of the culture of the language in a variety of contexts
- Development of positive attitudes towards the learning of modern foreign languages
- Provision of a suitable foundation for further study and practical study of the language(s)
Students on this course are expected to have shown an interest in the learning of languages and a commitment to hard work. Assessment: Listening - 20%, Speaking - 30%, Reading - 20%, Writing - 30%
A Level Languages (French, German, Spanish)
A Level Exam Board
The A level course will cover:
Social issues and trends, political and artistic culture, grammar, and literarcy texts and films.
Students are assessed in 3 papers:
Listening, Reading and Writing. - What's assessed: Aspects of French-speaking society: current trends, Aspects of French-speaking society: current issues, Artistic culture in the French-speaking world, Aspects of political life in the French-speaking world, Grammar. How it's assessed: Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes, 100 marks, 50% of A-level.
Writing. - What's assessed: One text and one film or two texts from the list set in the specification and Grammar. How it's assessed: Written exam: 2 hours, 80 marks in total, 20% of A-level.
Either one question in the target language on a set text from a choice of two questions and one question on a set film from a choice of two questions or two questions on set texts from a choice of two questions on each text. All questions will require a critical appreciation of the concepts and issues covered in the work and a critical and analytical response to features such as the form and the technique of presentation, as appropriate to the work studied (eg the effect of narrative voice in a prose text or camera work in a film). No access to texts or films during the assessment. No access to a dictionary during the assessment. Students are advised to write approximately 300 words per essay.
Speaking. - What's assessed: Individual research project - One of four sub-themes ie Aspects of French-speaking society: current trends, Aspects of French-speaking society: current issues, Artistic culture in the French-speaking world, Aspects of political life in the French-speaking world. How it's assessed: Oral exam: 21–23 minutes (including 5 minutes preparation time), 60 marks in total, 30% of A-level.
Discussion of a sub-theme with the discussion based on a stimulus card (5–6 minutes). The student studies the card for 5 minutes at the start of the test (25 marks). Presentation (2 minutes) and discussion (9–10 minutes) of individual research project (35 marks).
Careers and Higher Education Opportunities
Languages at whatever level are looked on favourably by universities. Students may take a multitude of university courses with a language. Many ex-students have used their languages on their course or have had to re-start a language because of course demands. A language is especially useful in careers in travel and tourism, leisure, business and many others. Many businesses prioritise a language learner in their selection criteria.