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Modern Languages

Using language to make connections with people and cultures, helping individuals to play a fuller role as global citizens.

In a world where global communication is becoming easier and international contacts increasingly important, the ability to communicate and express ideas in foreign languages should be considered a crucial life-skill.

Pupils who study French, German or Spanish within our department not only learn a foreign tongue, they gain an appreciation of unfamiliar cultures, all the while enhancing independent learning, creative and critical thinking skills.

Although the emphasis of all courses offered within the department is on oral and aural competence, grammatical knowledge and the ability to communicate in writing are also seen as an integral part of a pupil’s learning of a foreign language. There is significant cultural and phonetic input to courses at all levels with interpretation, translation and literacy skills being developed in the senior years.

Parlez-vous Français?

French is introduced within the Junior School curriculum and continues on throughout Transitus, First and Second Year. The most prominent foreign language taught to school-age pupils, French is normally also studied at National 5 level, with many choosing to continue on to study it at Higher and Advanced Higher level.

First Year pupils are given introductory courses in both German and Spanish, with those keen to elevate their skills in either of these languages free to do so at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher.

For those wishing to broaden their horizons even further, the department also provides non-examinable introductory courses in Italian, Japanese and Mandarin.

Pupils studying French, German or Spanish at National 5 level take a significant step up from their learning during Transitus, First Year and Second Year, committing to the challenge of understanding and using language through listening, reading, talking and writing.

They acquire crucial skills at this formative stage that touch on four main contexts of society, learning, employability and culture.

National 5 courses are accessible to pupils, given their grounding in each language during their early years at the Senior School. The courses provide flexibility, personalisation and choice, enabling learners to advance at a pace most suitable to them.

The Higher French, German and Spanish syllabus builds upon language skills and topics studied during candidates' entire school career, including at National 5 level, but within contexts that allow pupils to develop a more sophisticated communicative competence in which they can use their chosen language with confidence, understanding and flexibility.

Within each course, the 'Understanding Language' unit develops the skills of reading and listening within Higher candidates, while the 'Using Language' unit sees pupils advance their discursive and written skills of their language of choice.

With the study of French, German and Spanish at Higher level, pupils will be in a position to pursue foreign language study at university level or to combine language studies with another chosen career that could include law, business management, politics or economics.

Practice Makes Perfect

Modern Language pupils take part in regular exchange trips with schools in France and Germany, while Transitus travel to Normandy each year, allowing learners the opportunitiy to hone their linguistic skills away from the classroom setting.

Advanced Higher French, German and Spanish courses act as natural linguistic progressions from their Higher counterparts, opening up new horizons, developing a deeper understanding of each language and appealing to those determined to study a foreign language course at college or university.

Pupils continue to advance their reading, translation, listening, discursive and written skills in the 'Understanding Language' and 'Using Language' units, while a specialist study topic gives candidates the opportunity to work independently, carrying out research and analysis based on literary texts.

With eight periods a week allocated to each Advanced Higher course, those choosing to study a foreign language at this level require a steadfast commitment to the subject.

The value of an award at this level as an ancillary skill to a wide range of degree courses should not be under-estimated. Studying a foreign language at Advanced Higher level, therefore, is not only a useful and practical course of action for those intending to study languages at university, but also for those intending to specialise in another subject area.

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