The Languages Team at DCGS is proud of the way it espouses the school’s values of aspiration, kindness and resilience. Everyone in the team has experience of working and/or studying abroad, and some have had previous careers where knowledge of other languages was essential. They are all passionate and positive linguists, having experienced first-hand the rewards that speaking other languages brings.
The languages curricula for French, German and Spanish are based on a number of key principles: the belief that students should enjoy languages; that they should experience a sense of reward associated with the progress they make; that they are able to make links between English and the languages they study. Content is carefully considered to ensure students have time to practise new words before adding more complexity and more vocabulary, with a view to building confidence.
We are proud of the exchanges, trips and extra-curricular opportunities offered, and the exchanges in particular have enabled us to build incredibly close working relationships and genuine friendships with exchange counterparts in Marseille, Bensheim and Murcia. Going abroad and using the language in an authentic setting is where the real magic happens - classrooms are okay for accessing the language, but you can only go so far. Witnessing students enjoying a work experience placement in France or Germany, or seeing students ordering something at a market, or building lifelong friendships with an exchange partner is particularly gratifying for teachers, and a real accomplishment for students.
Closer to home, we have run trips to the BFI (British Film Institute) and to the French Institute for A Level Study Days. Closer still, the French department has run a French Film Club since 2015, with six films a year. We have witnessed some stunning and awe-inspiring performances from our A Level German debating team and some KS3 French classes have engaged in authentic translation workshops run by the Stephen Spender Trust. Year 9 students of Spanish have also exchanged Christmas cards with students in Murcia.
In recent years we have been delighted to have had the support and energy of the Language Ambassadors in Years 12 and 13, and grateful for their many initiatives, resources and outreach work. They have also been instrumental in creating and judging house competitions.
Our advice to students is always to adopt a “little and often” approach to language learning, made easier by the online resources available to students, e.g. Linguascope, This Is Language, The Language Gym, Sentence Builders. It demands discipline but will yield results. We believe, too, that, as John le Carré said, “The decision to learn a foreign language is [...] an act of friendship. It is indeed a holding out of the hand. It’s not just a route to negotiation. It’s also to get to know you better, to draw closer to you and your culture, your social manners and your way of thinking.”
We wish you luck on your language learning journey!