Students immerse themselves not only in the German language but also in the culture of the country. We often link learning to topical events to help bring linguistic concepts to life and encourage development of a rich vocabulary.
While pair work, group work, and teacher-led activities are the mainstay of languages classes, lesson styles and resources are diverse. All classes have regular access to ICT facilities where they can hone the chief skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Alongside the subject-specific skills such as an appreciation of grammar and of cultural norms, students gain broader abilities, such as confidence in public speaking. They also develop the ability to see things in a non-anglophone way, understanding what it is to be German through, by example, exploring the differences between the English and German school day, and the influence these differences have on family life.
My child is a native speaker of German. What will they do during their curriculum lessons?
Teachers will aim to differentiate the content of their lessons and will recommend library resources for stretch and challenge. Where it is appropriate, native speakers should consider early completion of GCSE from Year 9 onwards. Extension lessons with an oral language teacher may be a possibility depending on timetabling and teacher availability.
Can students take early GCSEs in languages?
Yes, we usually enter students for early GCSE from Year 9 onwards, if they are native speakers and fluent. This is done by entering the student as a private candidate through our exams department. The department cannot offer specific exam-related support to students entered as private candidates.
How is setting done in MFL (modern foreign languages)?
Normally setting is done during the first half term of the year. The department decides on sets according to a range of factors. First, a setting activity allows students to demonstrate their level of understanding across familiar topic areas and grammar points. Second, teachers also contribute to the decision with their knowledge of the students’ commitment, aptitude and work in previous years. We want students to feel comfortable, knowing that they are in the right group for them. Teachers are constantly reviewing student progress and it may be that alterations are made to sets over the academic year.
If a student is doing an extra-curricular language, do they have to take a language for GCSE in the curriculum?
- Learning journey - Year 8
Students study German on a carousel along with Italian and Mandarin in Year 8, and have a further opportunity to begin the language in Year 9 (although this is more intensive as there is less time to prepare for the GCSE). We focus on enabling students to talk and write about themselves – their family and friends, school life, free time, their home and their country. By the end of Year 8, pupils will also have covered some grammar points on word order, gender and case systems, and the present and perfect tenses.
- Learning journey - GCSE
The course we follow has four components: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
In Year 9 we introduce future plans, including going on an exchange (in preparation for the trip to Hamburg). In Year 10, we continue to develop a wide range of vocabulary, expressions and grammatical structures. In Year 11, in addition to focusing on examination technique and practice papers, our aim is to teach beyond the basic requirements of GCSE in order to provide a sounder footing for those wishing to continue at A level. Students are encouraged to attend occasional talks held at lunchtimes on German history, politics and social aspects.
- Providing stretch
Language comes to life when you spend time in the country in which it is spoken.
One of the most enriching experiences is the opportunity to visit Germany on a school trip. Younger students can absorb the unique atmosphere of festive Germany on a trip to the Cologne Christmas markets. Whilst their linguistic level at this stage is in its infancy, pupils still gain an immense amount from putting what they have learnt into context and practice.
Students who choose to study German to GCSE take part in the German exchange to Hamburg. This total immersion – during which students spend time experiencing school life as well as touring Hamburg and Lübeck – is excellent exam preparation and a chance to make lasting friendships.
Students wishing to take their learning further can carry out one of the optional investigations set each term, from exploring the longest compound nouns to researching technology usage in Germany.
We encourage Year 11 students to enter the Advanced category of the UK Linguistics Olympiad, and in 2016 all six participants from this year group received an award. The work of Perse students is often highly commended in the Oxford German Olympiad.
- Beyond the classroom
Students can keep up with news from Germany by browsing news magazine Spiegel, borrow a German film on DVD, or enjoy a novel from the extensive German language collection in our library.
Our 42 programme of lunchtime lectures includes languages. A recent speaker was Dr Jennifer Todd, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at UCL, whose topic was ‘How do we understand the meaning of words?’
The German department lunchtime programme includes a German club for beginners and occasional talks aimed at older year groups. Recent visiting speakers have delivered talks on Angela Merkel, the Reichstag and German democracy.
Year 11 and Sixth Formers take part in German debating competitions against other schools.