SpanishThe Languages Department thinks differently simply by being a group of polyglots! Several theories exist about the relationship between thinking and multilingualism.

The teachers in the Languages department speak several languages and we think differently in every one we speak!

As the American journalist Flora Lewis once said, “Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” The idea that language and thought are interlinked is not a new one.  Spanish is the third most widely spoken language in the world - after English and Chinese. Learning Spanish will help you to perceive things in a different light and bring you closer to the rich cultural heritage of the Hispanic world.

Year 9

What will I learn?

Spanish in Year 9 is an ab initio course (which would also be suitable for those who have some experience of the language) which gives an excellent introduction to the language and allows pupils to master the basics and build their confidence through role-plays, songs, presentations and games. The emphasis is on the practical side of the language, and they will be expected to participate actively in lessons. Given that the course will also provide the foundation for Spanish GCSE, pupils will be expected to work at a fast pace.

We cover a wide variety of topics such as family, town, home, free time and school. Pupils will also learn about the cultural aspects of Spanish speaking countries through video, songs and food! The department has subscriptions to language learning websites and applications enabling pupils to work independently beyond the confines of the classroom.

GCSE Year 10 and 11

What will I learn?

At IGCSE students will learn the necessary skills to communicate in Spanish and they will develop an understanding of the grammar of the language. The course is fast-paced and it is essential that students work independently: vocabulary is tested on a weekly basis. All students should be ready to play an active role in lessons and there will be plenty of opportunities to practise new language.

In lessons they will participate in pair work, group work and use of self and peer assessment to improve their language. All Year 11 students attend weekly conversation classes as part of their preparation for the speaking paper.

In addition to learning about Spanish and South American culture and society, students will be expected to understand key information about familiar topics such as school, family, leisure etc. They will be able to describe events and experiences, give opinions, and talk about their hopes and desires. During the course, students cover a wide range of texts, both formal and informal, based on authentic material.

How is the course structured and assessed?

The following topics are covered:

  • Home and abroad
  • Education and employment
  • Personal life and relationships
  • The world around us
  • Social activities, fitness and health

At the end of two years of study students sit three papers in four skills: listening, reading and writing and speaking. Each skill has equal weighting.

A Level Year 12 and 13

Studying Spanish at A Level involves lots of active participation in lessons, as there is a strong emphasis on the use of the language orally. Debates, presentations and research on different cultural topics are common elements of the course.

What do I need before starting this course? 

You need to have achieved at least a grade 6 in your GCSE. In addition, you need to be a good communicator and be willing to express and share your opinions on lots of different topics. After all, that is what languages are for, communicating!

What will I learn? 

You will gain an insight into the Spanish language and the culture of the Spanish speaking countries, and this includes Latin America, of course! You will also explore the influence of the past on present-day Hispanic communities. You will study texts and film and have the opportunity to carry out independent research on an area of your choice. You will also acquire skills and understanding for practical use, for further study or for employment.

How is the course structured and assessed?

Classes are conducted in the target language, but the more complex structures will generally be explained in English. There are seven lessons a week, and usually a class will have two teachers, each teaching three or four lessons. There is a great emphasis on class participation, research and presentations. There are also conversation classes which you will need to attend. The course is linear and all examinations take place at the end of the second year. You are assessed in all four skills. In your second year, you will conduct an independent research project and prepare to discuss your findings as part of the speaking assessment. There are translations into Spanish and English and you must be prepared to deal with literary texts as well as factual articles. The written paper will require you to answer an essay question on the film and the novel you have studied.

Where next?