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.
- Learning journey - Year 8
Students select from German or Spanish 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 IGCSE). 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 grammar points on word order, gender and case systems, and the present and perfect tenses.
- Learning journey - IGCSE
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 IGCSE in order to provide a sounder footing for those wishing to continue at A level. Year 11 students are also encouraged to attend the sample undergraduate seminar from a Trinity Hall lecturer that we run each – while this is primarily intended for sixth formers, it can be a useful starting point for Year 11s considering reading modern languages.
- 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 IGCSE 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. In 2016 the work of two Perse students was ‘commended’ in the Oxford German Olympiad.
We celebrate European Day of Languages with quizzes, competitions, film screenings and an international twist to the lunch menu.
- Beyond the classroom
The Modern Languages Society organises cultural talks, film screening, competitions, debates, seminars and plays at lunchtime and after school.
Recently, sports broadcast journalist Chris Dennis (BBC, Eurosport, Channel 4) ran a series of ‘languages in the workplace’ workshops to inspire our Year 11 language students. Students carried out a number of common tasks for multi-lingual journalists, including preparing a two-way interview in English to summarise an earlier interview in another language.
Each year students in Year 8 and Year 9 enjoy a German play in school.
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?’