Modern Languages and ESOL

Why study Modern Languages? A knowledge of the language enhances any holiday abroad but, more importantly, our pupils must be equipped to compete in a job market where mobility and the knowledge of at least one other European language are vital.

The languages currently being taught at Clifton Hall are French, German, and Spanish.

“Having one or more languages in addition to the mother tongue will be a hugely valuable asset for future generations of Scottish graduates. Starting languages at a young age, while in school, is the best way to learn and will hopefully ensure universities continue to see a steady stream of Scots hungry to learn new languages,” Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, The Scotsman, 14/11/11.

We begin French in the Nursery with songs, rhymes, games and fun. In the Junior School, pupils continue to learn orally until the gradual introduction of some easy reading materials in Junior 3 and 4. German and Spanish are introduced in Junior 6 and 7 with an accent on communication and cultural aspects. Pupils enjoy activities such as decorating German gingerbread houses at Christmas, the annual French café and the Spanish Tapas event.

In the Senior School, the department aims to develop the individual skills of listening and 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 4 and/or National 5 qualifications. To gain the award of the course, the learner must pass the unit assessments for each of the 4 skills as well as the course assessment which, in the case of the N5, comprises the oral and written exams.

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.

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.

As well as school trips, the department has also offered local outings to events such as the Multi Lingual Debate at Heriot Watt University.



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.


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