Modern Languages and ESOL
“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Frank Smith
From birth to age seven, a child’s brain is like a sponge, soaking up a huge amount of information, absorbing everything around them, continuously and effortlessly. This first critical period of brain development provides a prime opportunity to lay the foundation for a holistic education for children. Four ways to maximize this critical period include encouraging a love of learning, focusing on breadth instead of depth, paying attention to emotional intelligence and not treating young children’s education as merely a precursor to ‘real’ learning.
It is with these ideas in mind that we decided to review how languages were being approached in the Junior School. We hope that by exposing children to a wide variety of activities, we will lay lifelong foundations for developing skills in language learning.
As a result, Nursery to J5 are now being taught ‘Language and Culture’. The children will be exposed to a variety of Languages which are often deemed as ‘difficult to learn’ through songs, games and other activities. We will discover languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Russian. By familiarising pupils from a very young age to these languages, we are hoping to build the foundations of an inherent ability to find language learning accessible for every child. There will also be a strong focus on the discovery of different cultures, myths and legends and other stories to make the pupils culturally aware and open to the breadth of difference among human beings in the world.
J6 and J7 will then all learn French, German and Spanish concurrently in preparation for the demands of Senior School. Each class will be allocated thirty minutes with each of the three specialist teachers where they will be taught the basics in more details up to the point of forming simple sentences.
In the Senior School, the department aims to develop the individual skills of listening, talking, reading and writing.
Senior 1 and 2 courses place emphasis on building confidence to express oneself in a foreign language and the development of the 4 skills in the subject contexts of family, friends, home, school, leisure activities and similar topics.
In Senior 3 and 4, pupils study towards the National 5 qualifications. To gain the award of the course, the learner must be successful in the oral exams, internally assessed in March, and also manage the exam in May comprising two papers: Paper I in Reading and Writing and Paper II in Listening.
In Senior 5, pupils can progress to Higher. Whereas the structure of the course and context areas of Society, Learning, Employability and Culture remain the same, the complexity of the language used increases and pupils are taught to express and recognise opinions rather than just descriptive language. Just like in National 5, to gain the award of the course, pupils must be successful in the oral exams, internally assessed in March, and also manage the exam in May comprising two papers: Paper I in Reading and Directed Writing and Paper II in Listening.
At Advanced Higher level in Senior 6, pupils take much more initiative and the teacher’s role is less directive in determining what subject areas are covered. The use of language moves up from expressing opinions to building persuasive arguments and there is a much greater emphasis on oral expression, culminating in a 20 minute presentation and conversation with an external examiner conducted entirely in the foreign language. In addition, pupils devise and conduct a research project that analyses an aspect of literature, media or use of language of work, presenting their findings in an essay written in English. The Advanced Higher also has a written exam in the month of May.
Clifton Hall also offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Higher level (there is currently no SQA Advanced Higher ESOL qualification) for the benefit of our pupils originating from overseas. The course is broken down into English for everyday life and either English for study or the world of work. This not only gives the opportunity for pupils to gain qualifications necessary for entry to Scotland’s further education establishments but also helps support the study of their other subjects in school and their day-to-day life in Scotland.