All students are taught two lessons of Spanish per week in Key Stage 3. If they opt to take it at GCSE Level, they have three lessons per week and in Key Stage 5 they have 11 lessons in a fortnight. There is a gradual progression in learning; in Years 7, 8 and 9, the focus is mainly on learning basic vocabulary and grammar in order to communicate effectively on a series of different topics, including family life, free time activities or holidays. At GCSE level, students consolidate and expand their understanding of the language through the skills of listening, speaking, reading, translating and writing.
We use a variety of resources, which include articles from “El País” (Spain’s main newspaper), poems and extracts of Spanish and Latin American literature, podcasts and video resources and online magazines; thus allowing students to cultivate an awareness of the variety and richness of both the Spanish and wider Hispanic world. By accessing mainstream media, students also begin to develop the skills necessary for accessing an A level in Spanish where the focus is primarily on literature (Federico Garcia Lorca and Laura Esquivel). Our aim is to make students more independent and confident users of the language as well as to develop an understanding and sensitivity towards the Spanish and Hispanic world.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7, our objective is to introduce students to the Spanish language. In the course of the year, students will develop skills that will enable them to communicate in Spanish at a basic level. They learn to understand and use vocabulary and structures about themselves, family, home and school. We use the course Viva 1 as well as a variety of Spanish poems and songs to encourage the creative use of language and cultural awareness.
In Year 8, students develop their listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in Spanish. We use the course Viva 2, covering holidays, leisure, food, fashion and going out. During the year, students will consolidate their understanding and knowledge of the present tense and learn both the preterite tense and the near future. They are also encouraged to use Spanish wherever possible in lessons.
The objective of the Year 9 course is to enable all students, whether they opt to do the GCSE course in Year 10 or not, to hold simple conversations in Spanish and to communicate on a basic level as if they were in a Spanish speaking country. Using Viva 2, students learn to understand and use words and phrases about themselves, shopping, travel, ordering food and drink, prices, numbers and times. Underpinning this is a grammatical framework to prepare those who opt to take Spanish in Year 10. Students are encouraged to listen to and use Spanish in the classroom. Homework, both written and learning, is designed to reinforce work done in class. Students are also encouraged to share experiences of Spain, souvenirs, food, different customs and habits with the class. There will also be an introduction to Spanish cinema or theatre and the possibility of a visit to Spain in Year 9 or 10.
Key Stage 4
In Year 10, our learners consolidate the knowledge and skills acquired in Year 9 and go on to cover the first half of the GCSE course. We use the Viva Pearson GCSE textbook, which is a lively, exciting book, supplemented by articles from Spanish newspapers and magazines, poems and other material. Lessons are generally conducted in Spanish; girls are encouraged to speak Spanish to boost both confidence and skill. Students practise writing extended pieces of work in Spanish as well as translating topical texts into and out of the target language, in preparation for the rigours of the exam. Students are expected to be able to express opinion, justify views, narrate events and communicate for different purposes, audiences and contexts, both in written and spoken form. In addition to studying the language and the grammar, there is also a focus on learning about the Spanish culture and discovering the Hispanic world.
In Year 11, students consolidate the knowledge and skills acquired in Year 10 and go on to cover the second half of the material required for GCSE. We use the Viva Pearson GCSE textbook (red / rojo), supplemented with articles from Spanish newspapers and other material. During the year, the girls are required to complete and practise their speaking booklet, covering the eight key topic areas, in readiness for the oral in April. Year 11 has a focus on more complex elements of grammar, star structures and contemporary topics such as the environment and global issues. Lessons are generally conducted in Spanish; our linguists are encouraged to speak Spanish as much as possible. Homework is set twice a week and in addition, students often complete independent tasks in an area of need or interest, sharing their learning with both the teacher and classmates.
Key Stage 5
What will I Study?
‘La pluma es la lengua del Alma’ The pen is the tongue of the soul (Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes)
At KS5 we aim to deepen students’ appreciation of Spain and Spanish speaking countries through the study of a variety of topics that develop and strengthen their linguistic, literary, cultural and historical insight. Students studying Spanish should approach the subject in as varied a way as possible, supplementing classroom time by making frequent visits to films in Spanish and seeing Spanish theatre when it is on in London. Furthermore, students are encouraged to attend talks and lectures at el Instituto Cervantes.
There is a visit to Spain in October every other year. Last year we went to Seville and attended sessions at a prestigious language school. All students buy a copy of a new textbook written specifically for the A-Level course and we frequently work from articles taken from El País. We also use songs and poetry as well as studying grammar in a rigorous manner. Students also have the opportunity to speak with a Spanish language assistant on a weekly basis.
How will I be assessed?
At A Level, students will be assessed as follows:
Unit 1: Listening, Reading and Translation (May)
40% of A level
Unit 2: Written Response to Works and Translation (June)
2 hours 40 minutes
30% of A level
Unit 3: Speaking (April-May)
30% of A level
With 360 million native speakers worldwide, Spanish is spoken by more people as a first language than English, on two continents. In a world where the knowledge of an additional language is increasingly becoming a valued asset, students with an A level in Spanish will have access to a vast range of careers. These include working for European institutions, international business, teaching, translation and the tourism and leisure industry.
What are the entry requirements?
A minimum of a grade 7 at GCSE Level is required to access the A-Level course. Students must understand that the course is challenging and it requires commitment both in and outside of lessons. Worthwhile grades are only achieved through hard work. The language and literature of Spain and Latin America will prove a stimulating study and a good training for higher education.
A Modern Language can be a very useful qualification combined with other subjects, especially in light of the new opportunities in Europe. Various universities offer courses combining a subject with Spanish in an effort to prepare pupils to become the international political and business leaders of tomorrow.