Academic: Modern Foreign Languages
Updated: Wed 14 Mar 2012
French & German
French and German are currently available for study in every year group at Whitgift. In the Junior School, the major emphasis is on oral proficiency, with skills being developed through audio and group conversation work. The textbooks used present authentic written language in interesting contexts with plenty of opportunity for writing and more advanced reading exercises which are thorough and enjoyable. The courses provide a lively communicative approach with a clear grammatical progression. They give a thorough grounding in the languages, based on a combination of learning through understanding and language acquisition achieved by enjoyment and practice.
At the end of the Upper First Form, up to 16 boys will be offered places on the Bilingual Programme for French, German or Spanish. This unique programme which has been running for 14 years and is taught by native speakers, allows for the advanced study of the culture, history and geography of these countries.
The aim is to bring the pupils up to a high level of fluency and the Programme culminates in prestigious internationally recognised examinations in the Upper Fifth, giving them an extra qualification useful for working abroad later on. The boys will also go on an exchange and a Bilingual trip each year and will use modern information technologies to work on projects with students abroad, adding a real purpose to their language studies.
In September 2009, Whitgift introduced a unique programme for French native speakers in cooperation with the French Embassy. This programme, called Section Française, is aimed at boys with a French-speaking background, who are brought up bilingually and are fluent in French and English. Our aims for Section Française are two-fold: firstly, we want to maintain and develop both French and English at mother-tongue level, making sure the boys become truly bilingual; secondly we want to offer boys the chance to study for the Bilingual International Baccalaureate in the Sixth Form, a rare and very desirable qualification.
Spanish is a very popular and enjoyable subject at Whitgift. From the beginning Spanish is used in the classroom and students have ample opportunities to practise the topics they have learned. We follow the course book Listos 1 and 2 in years 7 and 8 respectively. In year 9, we focus on Latin America, its geography, its music, its history and its traditions. Year 10 and 11 are used to prepare the students thoroughly for their IGCSE. In the Sixth form, we are currently offering A-level, IB Ab Initio, IB- standard and IB- higher level. In years 11, 12 and 13 our native speaker assistants help our students prepare for their orals in very small groups or on a one-to-one basis.
It is a distinct advantage for native speakers of English to be qualified in a second Modern European Language. Italian is a valuable language to have, given the relatively small number of schools that offer the subject. Perhaps you have a passion for opera or you are an aspiring musician who wants to learn what adagio, allegro, and andante mean. It is an extremely enjoyable subject to study and we aim to instil in our students an enthusiasm for and interest in the language and culture of Italy. In fact, all the Italian students at Whitgift are invited to take part in a linguistic exchange with a School in Vicenza. Finally, the Italian students complete their penultimate year of studies with two weeks work experience at Hotel Poiano in Lake Garda. This work experience allows students to broaden and hone their linguistic competence and gives them the opportunity to be in an international working environment. Many UK universities offer continued study Italian with another subject such as law, engineering, business studies or economics.
Both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese are fully embedded in the Whitgift curriculum on an equal footing with French, Latin, Spanish and German. They can be chosen from Year 7 and continued to GCSE and beyond where there is provision for progression to IB and A-Level. These classes are designed for non-native speakers of the language. Native or near-native Chinese and Japanese speakers are catered for separately and we are proud within the Department of the flexible languages provision we are able to provide.