Language learning at Appleby Grammar School has a long standing reputation for excellence. We firmly believe that successfully learning another language enriches your life. Knowledge of languages opens doors to another world. We teach our students the mechanics of language, we encourage them to become skilled linguists, to be independent in how to learn a language, and to understand how to become better at communicating, which is a challenging skill to master. We also hope to capitalise on those skills already introduced through the Key Stage 2 foreign language programmes in place in many of our catchment primary schools.
Most of our lessons take place in our designated classrooms, Rooms 19 and 20 in the Modern Languages Faculty. We set high standards and make use of a wide range of both progressive and traditional methods. Work is done in all four skill areas of reading, listening, speaking and writing, in order to increase students’ confidence in comprehension and communication.
At Key Stage 3, our focus is on developing oral fluency whilst at the same time building a strong grammatical foundation and developing vocabulary. At the same time, we aim to begin to equip the students with the skills which will enable them to become independent language learners. In Year 7, students have three lessons of French per week and lessons are taught in mixed ability groups for the first term, with setting taking place from then onwards. This helps students of all abilities to fulfil their potential. We start with word games, basic conversation and activities designed to get students speaking French to build confidence and encourage an active role within the classroom.
We currently use the ‘Expo 1-3’ course in French which has been specifically designed for the National Curriculum, enhanced with our own materials to sustain interest and relevance in our teaching.
French is taught to both GCSE and ‘A’ Level. Students are prepared for the AQA GCSE, AS and A level specifications for French. Commercial courses form the core of our teaching but a great deal of additional material is used and the department subscribes to a number of interactive websites.
Our GCSE results are consistently in line with or above the national average. In previous years, our students have achieved an average of 70% A*-C passes, of which 20% were A* or A grades. As many as a half of our cohort opt to take GCSE French at the end of Year 9, and to this end our results rank us as one of the highest achieving non-selective secondary schools across Cumbria in the new English Baccalaureate. We hope to improve this further over the next few years to come.
Since the introduction of the new AS and A2 Level courses, all students have had success, with many obtaining ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades and gaining university places of their choice. In recent years our students have enjoyed a pass rate A-E of 100%, of which A-C grades account for approximately 75% of entries.
We are currently working alongside other subjects in a cross curricular dimension, with theme days and festivals planned. One of the many important features of our work is that all students have the opportunity to participate in a residential visit to Bayeux in Northern France in Year 8, where they study aspects of Geography and History in addition to practising their French and gaining direct cultural experience beyond the classroom. This trip is usually over-subscribed and very successful, thanks largely to the enthusiasm of the staff, the excellent behaviour of the students and the warm welcome we receive.
All students on exam courses are enrolled on “Kerboodle” and “Vocab Express” - AQA approved personalised online learning courses. Through this we hope to encourage more effective study skills and to improve still further our already excellent exam results. Students also have access to subscribed language websites and revision packages.
All members of the Modern Foreign Languages Department are committed and enthusiastic about their subject. We believe in a combination of hard work and active learning to help students to achieve high standards. We aim to encourage a lifelong interest in language appreciation, in other countries, their peoples and historical and cultural backgrounds.