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Standards are high in foreign languages at Claremont Fan Court. The languages pupils can learn are Spanish, German, French and Latin (in combination with a modern language). Lessons in modern languages are usually taught in the target language, with an emphasis on the pupils achieving a genuinely high level of ability in the spoken language, without neglecting the written language. In Latin the emphasis is on understanding the structure of the language, being able to construct sentences in Latin as well as understand them and encouraging pupils to understand the Latin roots of so much of the vocabulary we use in English.
Pupils in Year 7 start with a language awareness programme in the three modern foreign languages (Spanish, French and German) and in Latin. Pupils are then asked which of the three modern languages they would like to continue to learn in Years 7, 8 and 9, possibly combined with lessons in Latin. The current options are French, German or Spanish, or, for the most able linguists, Spanish and Latin. We are almost always able to give pupils their first choice language option, but we cannot absolutely guarantee this as it does depend on class sizes and therefore ask for a second and third choice of language option. Pupils start their chosen language option at the beginning of the summer term of Year 7. They then have four lessons a week in their chosen language option in Years 8 and 9.
Pupils are encouraged to continue with their main foreign language at least to GCSE, but it is not compulsory to take a language GCSE. The great majority of pupils do continue at least to GCSE in their main foreign language and in addition good linguists can learn a second foreign language at this stage. Recent years’ GCSE results have been excellent in foreign languages. At this stage pupils continue to work on achieving genuinely high standards in the modern language(s) they are learning and in addition they receive thorough preparation for the GCSE exams. In Latin at GCSE level pupils are introduced to studying ‘real’ classical literature for the first time, as well as developing their ability to translate both ways.
Students can study Spanish, French and German at A Level. The new A Level course continues to develop students’ ability to communicate in everyday language but also develops their ability to write at a high level in the language, to understand the language at a high level and to undertake research on a topic that interests them. The course includes an element of literature with students studying either two books or a book and a film and learning to write essays on them in the target language.
We run a very good programme of residential visits in the department, including recent exchange programmes with schools in Spain, Germany and France as well as study visits for older pupils to these countries. In addition, the department regularly runs co-curricular language courses with recent lunchtime courses in Italian, Latin and Chinese.