“A different language is a different vision of life.”
Given Britain’s position in Europe and the increasing need to communicate with our continental neighbours as well as with international existing and potential partners, we highly value the study of modern languages at Heathfield. An ability to speak English as well as French or Spanish is an advantage on the international job scene. Language teachers at Heathfield School are native speakers. The presence of a French speaking assistant is another important feature of the department. She provides an added view of her country and allows more creative activities to take place both in and outside the classroom.
AS and A Level
French and Spanish are offered at A Level. The A Level course is ideal for students who enjoy languages and wish to pursue a language in greater depth. It not only teaches the language but introduces students to the culture, life, customs and thoughts of a country and its people. French or Spanish mix well with any combination of A Level subjects whether Business, Science, Arts and Humanities. Most universities offer a year abroad either working or studying and it is the perfect opportunity to gain experience and enjoy the culture of the country before starting a career.
A Level Assessment (AQA Examination Board)
There are 3 units of examination covering the four skills of speaking, writing, listening and reading. At A Level, various interesting topics are studied. In addition, the A Level course offers students, in negotiation with their teacher, the freedom to determine the content of their research which will be presented and discussed at the speaking examination. The oral component is conducted internally. Over the two years, Language students will study a book as well as a film, and a writing examination will assess the knowledge of these works through two essays. In addition to writing essays, students will be expected to be able to translate both ways. To assist them at school, students will have weekly tutorials with the native speaker assistant or teacher.
AQA GCE Spanish: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/as-and-a-level/spanish-7692
All students take their GCSE examinations in Form V although fluent or near-fluent speakers as well as exceptional linguists may be allowed to sit their GCSE at the end of Form IV. We do believe that it is usually better for girls to wait if there is any doubt; the added maturity helps them to earn the Grade 9, which they may forego by rushing through the course. Although we are aiming to cater for all cases, it is not possible to enter the GCSE course as a complete beginner.
The GCSE specifications allow pupils to develop the ability to use their chosen language not only to communicate but also for intellectual stimulation and enjoyment. The course aims to broaden pupils’ understanding of the culture of the countries which language is being studied. This will include access to authentic material. The four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening will be explored and developed across a wide range of topic areas.
In addition to French and Spanish, other languages (Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, German, Modern Greek, Portuguese and Russian) may be studied to GCSE and A level as paid for extra lessons (subject to availability of teaching time and a suitable teacher).
GCSE Assessment (AQA Examination Board)
From September 2016, the GCSE course will be linear, which means that the students will take all their exams at the end of the course. French and Spanish benefit from the same structure for the final examination. At the end of the two years, one single tier of examination (Foundation or Higher) is offered for all the four skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each skill is worth 25% of the final mark. The native speaker assistant or teacher will support pupils all along the academic year in the preparation of the speaking examination.
AQA GCSE French: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/french-8658
AQA GCSE Spanish: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/spanish-8698
Forms I – III
The Modern Languages Department offers courses in French and Spanish. French is taught to all students from Form I to Form III. In addition, all girls in Form I enjoy one Spanish conversation lesson per week. They continue studying both languages in Forms II and III.
Every girl at Heathfield School is required to take at least one modern language at GCSE. Linguists are stretched beyond the normal GCSE level, using the expertise of native teachers and having plenty of oral practice. Weaker students are encouraged to acquire the basic language skills required for success at GCSE; understanding grammar and the discipline of starting to think in another language, not to mention the confidence students gain from oral work, benefits other subjects a great deal. No matter what they want to study after their GCSE or what career they will choose, having modern foreign languages improves opportunities later in life.
International Movie Club
Girls at Heathfield have the chance to join the International Movie Club. This is an intimate and informal gathering taking place once a week. Once the lights are off and the popcorn has been opened, the girls get to watch a variety of movies which all have a common point: none of them are English or American movies! If the movie happens to be in the language the girls are studying at Heathfield, it allows them to practise their listening skills. However in all cases, the International Movie Club is an opportunity to encounter and discuss experiences, emotions as well as cultural differences.
French Enrichment Club
The French Enrichment club welcomes all girls who can speak the language more or less fluently. Through varied interesting and lively activities led by the French assistant, pupils take part in discussions which aim to improve their level of spoken language. They also improve their language skills through written exercises and grammar practice.
Spanish Enrichment Club
For all pupils in Form III and especially for the new girls who joined Heathfield in Form III and have not yet studied Spanish, the Spanish teacher runs a weekly after school Enrichment Club to help them improve, revise or simply enrich and practise their knowledge of the language.
In the Sixth Form we offer a four day French exchange to Rueil Malmaison outside Paris. Participation is strongly recommended. Students live with their French host families for the duration of the exchange, attend classes of their choice and enjoy a varied itinerary of cultural activities and excursions. It is a unique opportunity to sample French culture while developing oral and listening skills.
Spanish Trip to Andalucia
An exciting trip to Spain is organised for Forms IV and V every other year. The girls have the opportunity to improve their comprehension skills and are encouraged to use their Spanish actively. They enjoy recording each other communicating in Spanish with the local population.
The trip also includes the very interesting visits to the beautiful Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Picasso museum in Malaga as well as tasting Spanish cuisine and also finding time to enjoy the beach!