The CLEAR benefits of learning a language at Adcote 

Posted: 28th April 2021

by Señorita Dodd

¡Hola! A very warm welcome to the Spanish Department. I am Señorita Dodd, a secondary-trained MFL teacher, with a degree in Spanish and German, who has taught all ages in a variety of educational settings both in Spain and the UK. Spanish is very much a part of life here at Adcote School, as students start in Year 3 and have the option to continue through to A Level. We chose Spanish as the foreign language as it is spoken by approximately 500 million people worldwide and it is the fourth most used language on the Internet. The UK does an increasing amount of trade with Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries are popular tourist destinations for us. Knowledge of the Spanish language enhances your enjoyment of its rich culture, delicious food and great music and enables you to communicate with native speakers in 21 countries.

I am passionate about creating a buzz around language learning through delivering engaging, fun and creative Spanish lessons. I love to see the enthusiasm of the girls and watch their confidence grow as they progress through the school, to become competent linguists with minds open to other cultures, traditions, and perspectives. We are lucky to have such a variety of girls in our school, whose experiences of the world vary so much, to include those who come from far afield, sometimes with a knowledge of several languages already.

At the beginning of the language learning journey the emphasis is very much on phonics, which I strongly believe are the ‘code’ of the language. Embedding phonics early on ensures that students speak with accurate pronunciation from the word ‘go’ and have an awareness of the sound-spelling links, thereby helping them to become independent communicators. They are taught vocabulary on a range of familiar topics and some basic grammatical concepts, through well-planned lessons involving a range of attractive resources and activities. The girls are encouraged to explore their best ways of learning. My aim is to develop in the girls an interest in how other languages work and an awareness and curiosity in other cultures. The study of a foreign language helps reinforce knowledge of their own language as well as bringing a huge sense of achievement. 

In Year 7 lessons increase to two hours a week, and students follow a full and varied course, developing their skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating. We continue with the games, songs, quizzes and lots of fun activities because they really help ‘make things stick’. Even if you arrive at Adcote in Year 7 not having done Spanish before, you soon catch up, as our small classes give plenty of opportunities for individual attention. Add to this the supportive nature of your classmates and you will not get left behind!

Spanish lessons allow the girls to gain the CLEAR attributes we value and nurture here at Adcote. For example it takes bravery and confidence to speak another language, communication skills are at the heart of foreign language acquisition, and you certainly need resilience to master those tenses! Students are encouraged to work independently at school and at home, being set work on Google Classroom and using Languagenut and Quizlet, as well as many other excellent online resources.

This year our Year 8s and 9s have enjoyed taking part in an eTwinning project with a school in Spain, sharing information about themselves, their schools and hometown – using up to date technology to collate and present their ideas. We are in the process of developing links with a large school in Madrid, for our younger girls (who are super keen!) to have pen pals too. This is an exciting opportunity to use Spanish in an authentic context and make connections and possibly life-long friends!

There is the option to study GCSE Spanish and A Level, should the girls wish to continue their language learning. These are challenging but very rewarding courses to follow and build on all the skills acquired during previous years of study. Studying a foreign language certainly makes you stand out from the crowd, increases your employability and gives you more opportunities to travel with work and have adventures. Students gain very valuable skills such as memorisation, teamwork and independence, which will be useful in many different areas of life. There is the opportunity to attend a Spanish conversation club during prep time, to focus further on speaking skills. After all, isn’t that the main reason we want to learn a foreign language?

Languages can be used in almost any career – it is a very good subject to mix and match with another in higher education – and even if you don’t continue with your language learning beyond your school life, it provides you with a very transferable skills set. What’s more, you have great fun along the way!

Here at Adcote your Spanish learning journey is smooth, varied and fun! Being the teacher from Year 3 to Year 11 I really get to know the girls well and can tailor lessons to their individual needs and interests. The learning of a foreign language enriches the curriculum and opens doors in life beyond school.

Please get in touch if you want to discuss any aspect of your daughter’s Spanish learning, or any support you can give her in this exciting and important aspect of her school career. 

!Hasta pronto!

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela

 

Categories: Engagement
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