Junior Modern Languages
Here at St Mary's, pupils in Form 1 to Form 5 follow the Junior Modern Languages programme.
The Modern Languages Department here at St Mary’s is always a busy and vibrant place. From Form 1 upwards, Madame Hutchison provides the prep and pre-prep pupils with an excellent grounding in the basics of French. In addition, all year groups in the lower and middle school have the opportunity to experience one term per year of Spanish.
At age 10, when the pupils move up to Form 6 and the ‘Senior School’, they receive two double lessons of French per week with Madame Bruce, and two double lessons of Spanish with our own resident ‘Madrileña’, Miss Amado. The pupils will continue with Spanish for the next two years, sitting a Common Entrance Level 1 Spanish paper at the end of Form 7. This gives them solid preparation for senior school Spanish, should they choose to study it.
French, as our principal foreign language, is studied right through to Common Entrance 13+. The course is rigorous and challenging, as it rightly should be, and allows the most able linguists to really shine. But we also ensure that the course is accessible to the vast majority of our pupils, with small, ability-streamed sets and CE Level 1 an option for those who may not be able to access Level 2.
The grounding that St Mary’s pupils receive in grammar and language manipulation is second-to-none, and the benefit of many pupils also studying Latin cannot be understated when it comes to an appreciation of how the language is formed. However, in addition the hard work, a lot of fun is had in the Languages classroom!
Speaking is prioritised as a fundamental skill in language acquisition, and the modern languages classroom is often a lively place full of pupil interaction. Songs and games are an integral part of the language learning process, and pupils have opportunities to head outside and apply their language to real-life situations, such as making Tourist Information films about Melrose, or a short promotional film about their school.
The introduction of our new ICT policy in session 2021/22 means that all pupils in forms 7 and 8 will be invited to bring their own devices to school. This will open up huge new possibilities in MFL, enabling far more extensive use of interactive websites such as Quizlet and Memrise, as well as the specialist language lab “Schoolshape” for Listening and Speaking practice.
One of the highlights of the senior school French experience is the French Café at Kith n’ Kin day, when Form 7 serve up delicious home baking to St Marys’ parents and grandparents. The annual Cheese Tasting is another great event. Nothing will test a pupil’s grit and determination more than a public face-off with the smelliest French blue cheese around. With the respect of your peers at stake, there can only be one winner.