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Modern Languages

Welcome to the Modern Languages Department at Bexley Grammar School.

Teachers teach pupils how to communicate using as much of the target language as possible – so our classrooms, for the most part, are  English-free zones! Don’t worry though, we use lots of techniques and games so you’ll end up speaking another language confidently and spontaneously without even realising it!

At BGS we believe that learning about the culture of your chosen language is equally important as learning the language itself. Therefore we always include intercultural aspects in our lessons and even have special cultural topics in all Key Stages where we study these aspects more to greater depth.

At Bexley Grammar School, we aim to equip the professionals of tomorrow with the linguistic skills that will enable them to compete successfully in Europe and beyond.

We are a Language College and offer seven different European and Non- European languages to students of all ages. In their first year at the school, students study either French or German and then one year later they choose an additional second language and continue both to GCSE. The languages on offer are French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese Mandarin and Japanese. Many students go on to study one or two languages at KS5 through the International Baccalaureate programme or A- Level examinations and the number of those who study languages at university is rising every year. The school also offers a successful extra-curricular British Sign Language club to younger students there, run by Sixth Formers as well as, for students whose family speak another language at home, reinforcement classes in the additional language so that they may practise and hone their skills in it. Additional clubs on offer are the Language Club where students can go to receive support in the languages they study and / or research and write articles in foreign languages and English for the school’s termly Language Newspaper.

In the classroom, students are taught to and expected to communicate in the target language not only with their teacher but with their peers. Visiting the relevant country and speaking the target language to native speakers are imperative to learning a language and so trips abroad are an important part of language learning at Bexley Grammar School. Every year, European language trips take place to locations such as St. Malo, Cologne, Madrid and Florence and every two years, there are trips to Moscow, Shanghai and Tokyo. On a yearly basis, Work Experience placements abroad are also found for students in Years 12 and 13 to further practice their language skills in a new and exciting business context.

As part of its Language College status, Bexley Grammar School provides primary and secondary outreach work to the borough. Every year, nine local primary schools attend the school’s three day ‘Europa Town’ event whereby primary students visit a faux- French market, making conversation with and buying produce from stall holders, who are Bexley Grammar School Sixth Form students. Teachers from Bexley Grammar School also go to primary schools to work with primary school teachers and teach foreign languages to primary students of a range of ages. Through a Foreign Language Leaders national award, students in Year 12 train to and go to primary schools to teach languages in a similar vein. Last year, a language teacher and two Year 12 students jointly planned and gave a course of French lessons at a local school for children with special needs too.

This year has seen two new initiatives. In September, Bexley Grammar School hosted its first ‘Our Business Is Languages’ Event for 75 Year 11 students from five secondary schools in the borough. Students attended five workshops led by national and international companies and during the course of the day, took part in business simulations and used their language skills in real- life contexts; had an Arabic language taster session and a live video link-up with a European Commission interpreter in Brussels.

Bexley Grammar School has also just had its first ‘International Week. During this week, classes took the register in different languages, had international quizzes in form time and international- themed competitions for prizes. The canteen put on an international menu for the week too with food from a different continent each day on offer. There was also an adults’ Spanish language taster session for parents and a Japanese Calligraphy taster lesson for local primary schools. On Wednesday 26th, students in Years 7-10 had a day off- timetable and attended international and language workshops, learning skills such as how to get by in Korean to playing the didgeridoo to dancing Salsa! Sixth Form students also had the privilege of working with a European Commission Interpreter, learning about the skill and trying their hand at it in French, German, Spanish and Italian. The school won an award from the British Academy for its ‘International Week’.

Languages and language- learning is of upmost importance to Bexley Grammar School. The school does all it can and constantly looks for further ways to boost and enhance the language learning experiences of its students all in an effort to promote culture, internationalism and the importance of languages in today’s multi- cultural, fast- moving world.

Key Stage 3

  • As a department, we aim to create a safe and supportive learning environment, perfect for students to take risks in. We actively promote use of the target language, which is not unusual in language classrooms, however at BGS, we prefer to hear the students expressing themselves creatively with the language - not just our teachers! We actively create opportunities for them to experiment with newly acquired language so they immediately gain enjoyment and satisfaction from the progress they make in learning a new language.
  • Students are assessed regularly. In addition to vocabulary tests, pupils are assessed in all the four skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing). We consistently share with our pupils how they are progressing, so that they may focus their learning and work on their own desired targeted areas of improvement. Through this process, right from the outset, we foster and encourage an ethos for self-motivated learners.
  • All pupils in Year 7 study a modern language; either French or German. Towards the end of Year 7, pupils choose a second language for Year 8 onwards. Students have access to a wide range of languages: German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.
  • Students also have the opportunity to develop their interest in different cultures and/or learn a third language in after-school language clubs.

Key Stage 4

Students continue to study their two modern languages to GCSE.

For subjects examined by AQA (French, German, Spanish, Italian) students will follow a diverse syllabus, which allows for a great deal of freedom in choosing topics and expressing personal interests and opinions. Cultural topics studied in KS4 to date include language-specific films, short-stories, the study of a target-language region, football, food recipes and more. Reading and Listening papers will each be worth 20% of the overall grade and are examined at the end of the course, while Speaking and Writing (30% each) will be assessed by two oral dialogues and two extended writing pieces respectively. Students will several opportunities to produce these written and spoken assessments, with only their best 2 attempts being selected for submission.

For the EDEXCEL syllabus (Chinese, Russian and Japanese) students will concentrate on the four skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing and, by the end of the course, will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Understand and respond to spoken language ~ 23%
  • Communicate in speech, showing knowledge of grammar ~ 27%
  • Understand and respond to written language ~ 23%
  • Communicate in writing ~ 27%

As many opportunities as possible are provided for students to practise their Languages on foreign visits. We currently run trips in Year 9 to St. Malo (France) and Cologne (Germany) and in Year 10 to Andalucía (Spain) and Pisa (Italy).

Sixth Form

In Years 12 and 13, pupils are given the opportunity of studying modern languages at three different levels in the IB.  See the Languages pages on the Sixth Form menu. 

A variety of thought-provoking, contemporary issues is covered in the two years, including media, popular culture, healthy living, lifestyle, the environment, the multicultural society and contemporary social issues, to produce extended work and involves further input, thought and reflection. Apart from access to authentic sources, the students are also given access to foreign language assistants and a number of native speakers to help practise their spoken language. There is also the opportunity for students to take part in a work experience trip to either Spain, France or Germany at the end of Year 12 and we are always looking to organise local trips to extend language learning beyond the classroom.

Extra curricular activities

Visiting the relevant country and speaking the target language to native speakers are imperative to learning a language and trips abroad are an important part of language learning at Bexley Grammar School. 
All pupils in Year 9 have the opportunity to spend a week in the country of their first language. This year the Germanists are going to the Rhineland and those who study French are going to St Malo.

  • Pupils in Year 10 who have Spanish, Russian or Japanese as a second language also have the opportunity to visit Salamanca in Spain, Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia or Tokyo in Japan.
  • Sixth Form students have visited Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Tokyo and have most recently had the opportunity to do work experience in France, Germany and Spain.
  • Sixth Form students have the opportunity to visit Vienna, Berlin, Valencia or Caen. We are now also offering a one week work experience placement in France, Germany or Spain.
  • Y12 students have the opportunity to train as Foreign Language Leader Assistants (FLLA). This is a nationally certified qualification which trains students to teach language clubs in local primary schools.

A number of after-school and lunch time clubs offer opportunities for pupils to either learn an additional language in a more relaxed environment or to hone their skills in a language they already study. Current clubs include: Chinese, Russian and Japanese.