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MFL Newsletter Articles

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  • The Sakura Project Tree Planting Ceremony

    Published 14/03/22

    Some of you may have noticed the new addition to the school grounds.  Some of you may even have witnessed the planting ceremony from your form or office window on the chilly (but thankfully dry!) morning of 26th January. But, thanks to the Japan Society and in recognition of the school’s ongoing efforts to promote learning and understanding of Japanese language and culture, Bexley Grammar is the proud recipient of a beautiful young Somei-Yoshino cherry tree sapling. 

    The cherry tree and its blossoms are one of the most immediate and  enduring symbols of Japan.  You can find it on their currency and displayed proudly on the chests of the country’s national rugby teams. And pretty much every tourist montage of Japan includes masses of the pink and white trees in full bloom.  In Japan hanami - cherry blossom viewing - is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year, with tens of millions of Japanese heading to sit beneath their nearest cherry trees and gaze up at their beauty.  With some tasty snacks, too, of course!

    The gifting of the tree is part of The Sakura Project, which was launched in the autumn of 2017 during a meeting between the Japanese and British Prime Ministers of the time as a symbol of and means to deepen ties between the two countries.  Mr Elphick and Mrs Meyer were guests at the ceremony alongside students from Year 8 – Year 13. 

    Mrs Meyer, who has been involved with the project from the outset four years ago remarked how neatly this mirrored our students’ journey through KS3 and KS4 up to GCSE.  Mr Elphick remarked that he hoped that the event would also mark a return to the normal running of our exchange programme with Keio Shonan Fujisawa School.

    Ashna Adhikari, a Year 8 student of Japanese said of the event,The tree planting ceremony was a very special event to me. I love how through it, I was able to expose myself to Japanese culture by experiencing this event.  Sometimes, we have culture lessons in our Japanese classes, which help to show me the importance of the Sakura tree to the country.  I think culture plays a crucial part in Japan, so I'm glad I was able to learn more about Japan with this.”

    The blooming of cherry blossoms is very much determined by climate and weather and the Somei-Yoshino tree that we now have can be expected to put forth its white blossoms in late March or early April, allowing us to do our own hanami here at Bexley Grammar School.

    Mr Adams, MFL Department

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  • ¡El cubismo!

    Published 11/11/21

    Our Year 8 Spanish beginners have been studying Picasso and Cubism this term. They have come up with some tremendous Cubist pictures of their own!  Well done Sienna and Alice for your amazing creative and linguistic skills in Spanish!

    Ms Adlington, Year 8 Spanish Teacher


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  • International Celebration Week

    Published 30/09/21

    One of the things we are most proud of at Bexley Grammar is our ethos of promoting and celebrating cultural diversity, empathy and international mindedness, be it through the study of two languages to GCSE, a language at IB, our trips and events and of course International Celebration Week and Cultural Diversity Day!

    The week saw registration in other languages spoken at home by the school’s community, which offered those students the opportunity to teach a little of their home language to the rest of the form and for us to draw comparisons with other languages. There were also academic monitoring activities including matching celebrities to their spoken languages, naming Disney songs/ films in their foreign language versions, guessing the English word from cognates, the etymology of words, and learning sign language for the European countries, all of which promoted language deductive strategies and inclusivity. The canteen’s international menu for the week also proved a big hit, with Jerk chicken rice and beans, Pad Thai noodles and Coq au vin being among the highlights.

    The lunchtime activities on offer also proved popular, in particular Japanese origami, French cheese tasting, Japanese calligraphy and Russian word games.

    The Great International Bake Off

    The standard of the Great International Bake Off, which took place on Wednesday 22nd, was incredible this year! We had a great variety of countries, flavours and styles from India to the Philippines, America to Uzbekistan, Denmark to Japan, and almost every corner of the world was represented. Our judges were:

    • Mr Elphick was head judge of Taste
    • Ms Chan (Head of DT) was head judge of Presentation
    • Mrs Meyer (Head of MFL) was head judge of Cultural Authenticity

    As you’ll see from the photo, it was a really difficult decision and the smell of the room brought many staff members to come and eye-up the bakes!

    Thank you to everyone who took part!

    Cultural Diversity Day 

    Friday’s Cultural Diversity Day was the epitome of the week, with lessons having an international flavour to them and when students and staff wore authentic cultural dress and shared information and stories with their form about their heritage and what it means to them.








    I saw such a wide range of dress from Ghanaian, to Indian, to Scottish, to German, to Nigerian, English and Chinese, and from my own Year 13 form I heard stories about Kosovan, Columbian, Indian, Scottish, Russian, Ghanaian and Albanian heritage. The respectful and inquisitive demeanour of everyone was so heart-warming and meaningful as we all learned more about each other’s cultures and differences. Ultimately, however, what shone through was that although dress and traditions may differ, the similarities of pride, passion and respect for, country, language and heritage were unifying factors for us all.

    What a day and what a week! Thank you to everyone for taking part and sharing your culture with us.

    Mrs Meyer
    Head of MFL

    Click here to view the International Celebration Week photo album.

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  • Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节

    Published 23/09/21

    你好 this week is International Celebration week, and during our Chinese lesson, we learnt about the Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节 and how it is celebrated in China. We learnt about the way it symbolises the gathering of friends and family and the gratitude for a good harvest. We also learnt the date on which the Mid-Autumn Festival is held, being the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month of the year. It is also believed that on the night of the festival, the moon will be at its brightest and fullest of the year. In my opinion, the Mid-Autumn Festival is similar to the Western harvest festival as they both symbolise the thanks given for a good harvest. I was most curious about the stories surrounding the Mid-Autumn Festival such as how Chang’e flew to the moon by becoming a fairy after drinking Hou Yi’s elixir of immortality or about Wu Gang and the cherry bay tree he was never able to chop down upon his mission to achieve immortality. Overall, I deeply enjoyed learning about the Mid-Autumn Festival as well as the stories and traditions which come with it.

    Behzod Marufov 贝德 Year 9


    你好,this lesson taught me a lot about other cultures and how they celebrate certain things and why. It showed me there's a lot of difference between Britain and other countries' celebrations that we don’t know much about. I would recommend this lesson to others as it was an educational, but fun way to learn about different cultures, celebrations, foods and beliefs. I was looking forward to this lesson as I enjoy learning about the other ways people celebrate especially the stories behind all the things they do during festivals. In the lesson, we learnt about the Moon Festival and all the different foods they have e.g. mooncakes and what they do to celebrate e.g. light lanterns. I enjoyed making mooncakes with chocolate muffins in the mould and seeing how they're made. The most surprising thing I learnt today was how to make mooncakes as I never knew how they made the shapes and patterns on the top. I also enjoyed learning about the stories behind the festival as it was interesting to hear about how it all started. 

    Malou Wagner Poedenphant 玛洛, Year 9


    你好,this lesson definitely changed my mindset on the way about cultural activities as it makes me realise that cultural activities are not just all about learning, but understanding and having a fun way to experience things as in our Chinese Cultural lesson, we were given mini chocolate chip cupcakes to shape into a mooncake using a mooncake mould/press. I would certainly recommend this type of lesson on the Mid-Autumn Festival as it is fun and nice to learn about as some people don’t even though there is a Chinese festival in the Chinese Culture. Overall, I experienced a fun and enjoyable lesson today as I knew that Chinese people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as Mooncake Festival), but I never knew how it originally started, so it was nice to know how it originated and the background of it. If I could, I would want to learn more on how they make the mooncake and the mould as it seems quite hard to be able to mould such an intricate design onto the mooncake.

    Jessica Wong 嘉雯, Year 9


    你好. The Mid-Autumn Festival or the Moon Festival is a celebration that takes place on a full moon where people admire the moon, eat mooncakes, pomelo fruit and osmanthus delicacies, release sky lanterns, send gifts to others, and have a large family dinner. We learned about the story of how this festival came to be and then made our own mooncakes for the occasion. The cakes fell apart a bit, but it was fun! What surprised me about this festival was the rabbit mascot on the moon and how it ties into the story of Chang’e and the Moon Festival. It was a nice festival experience because of all the activities involved that I would definitely recommend people to take part in next year.

    Paul Despabiladeras 保罗, Year 9


    你好,this week we have been learning about 中秋节, the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival. In our lesson on monday, we explored the ancient legend of 后羿 (Huo Yi) and his wife the chinese goddess of the moon 嫦娥 (Chang’e), discovering one of the reasons how the moon festival gets its name and its traditions that continues today, as many people leave annual offerings to Chang’e during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Additionally, we made our own 月饼 (moon cakes). We learned that mooncakes were used by the Ming revolutionaries in their effort to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China at the end of the Yuan dynasty. This prompted the quick distribution of mooncakes. The mooncakes contained a secret message: on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month (the day of the mid- autumn festival), kill the rulers. We understand that today 月饼 symbolise reunion and togetherness. A notable part of celebrating the holiday is the carrying of brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, or floating sky lanterns - symbolic beacons that light people's path to prosperity and good fortune. I think it is important to learn about other cultural holidays in order to avoid being ignorant or insensitive to other cultures. Chinese culture is beautiful, especially the eloquence of the Moon festival. 

    Michael Ato 迈克, Year 10


    你好, today was the Autumn Festival cultural lesson (for Year 10). We learnt about the festival’s origin, the legends and the foods that people eat. As well as learning what people eat during the festival, we also had the opportunity to make our own “mooncakes”, using cupcakes and a mould provided by Mrs Lu. It was a great experience as we learnt about the process of making mooncakes. My favourite part of the lesson was making the mooncakes (obviously!), but also learning about the 3 main legends associated with the festival, those being the “Lady Chang’e Flying to the Moon”, the “Jade Rabbit Mashing Herbs” and “Wu Gang Cutting Sweet Osmanthus”. My favourite was the story of “Lady Chang’e Flying to the Moon” because it was very inspirational and how she sacrificed her life by consuming the elixir of immortality rather than giving it to Feng Meng, the greedy student of HouYi.

    Alex Wong 健文, Year 10


    你好, today we learnt about and celebrated a traditional Chinese event called the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon festival. This year, it is on September 21st, and we learnt about what food they eat, how they celebrate it and what traditions they have. Drinking wine with fermented osmanthus flowers, eating pumpkins, mooncakes, to worship the moon, and taro, to bring good luck, are some of the many foods which people eat during the festival. Celebrations and traditions include: family gatherings, admiring the moon, lighting lanterns and much more. My favourite part of our lesson was experiencing the interesting traditions and making mooncakes using a cupcake and a mould.

    Elizaveta Newton 丽莎, Year 10    


    你好,having celebrated this festival since Year 8, I have still learnt a lot and have definitely refreshed my interest in learning the language as they are both interlinked. As a result, I would definitely recommend this to my friends as the activities such as making and eating the mooncakes were quite interesting.

    Shakeel Majeed 基尔, Year 11


    你好! today we learnt about the Mid-Autumn Festival that is widely celebrated in China this year, it was celebrated on the 21st September. I liked learning about the legends that the festival is based on, and I think the concept of coming together to celebrate the festival is extremely important, especially after Covid 19. We made mooncakes (a commonly eaten food among Chinese people during this festival) out of cupcakes as well as trying genuine mooncakes which was a great experience as it was intriguing to taste food from other cultures. We watched videos that taught us these legends and another on why different types of food are eaten and the importance of them. I think it was a great experience and helped us to learn more about Chinese culture.

    Scarlett Barber 思佳, Year 11


     Not only do we admire the bright moon and eat mooncakes, we also light sky lanterns. The purpose of this is to write your wishes and send them to the sky so that they might come true. On the other hand, the Mid-Autumn festival is the first festival that we have celebrated this new academic year and conveniently lines up with our international week.  In order to further develop Chinese learning in KS5, which is part of the IB curriculum cultural links, we start to build the cultural knowledge and understanding across KS3,4 and 5 through different activities to inspire pupils to delve deeper into Chinese culture.

    Click here to view the Chinese Mid-Autumn photo album 2021.

    Mrs Lu
    Chinese Teacher, MFL Department

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