Langton Language Centre
LANGTON LANGUAGE CENTRE (LLC)
Language learning provides us with many skills beyond linguistic. It teaches us: resilience; problem solving; it builds confidence, improves our communication; develops our own language; extends our cultural knowledge and appreciation of different cultures and allows us to modify our behaviour or stance based on cultural perceived premises.
Born from this desire to ensure that languages have their rightful place in a top performing grammar school, the idea of the Langton Language Centre was conceived; to promote and extend the curriculum and to enculturate our students in all year groups. Our role and purpose is one of challenge; the challenge to ensure that our students are provided with the skills, knowledge and passion to be competitive in an increasingly global, shrinking, world.
With the vote to leave the European Union there has never been a more important time to study languages than now! Nationally we have already lost so much due to the decline in language teaching and of linguistic ability; our language is not a lingua franca, and students with developed language skills will be better placed in the workplace of the future.
What does the Language Centre mean?
We are building a hub of excellence for languages and developing what we offer at the school:
KS3 Language Study Entitlement
Students study two modern languages in KS3. This gives them a wider base of language options for further study. The learning of two languages is important to provide the challenge our students need and at the same time permits them to gain the basic building blocks necessary in their languages to have the possibility of taking both to GCSE and beyond. For those who already have developed linguistic skills, we promote the study of two different languages for bilingual students in order to broaden their skill base to three languages, with the option of taking a GCSE in their own language early.
Students are expected to study a language to GCSE level –study at GCSE level will provide students with the basic skills needed to communicate in the country but, more that than, it is the kind of education we wish to provide for our students, whatever their future careers may be. Languages are complex but having qualifications in languages increases opportunities and widening horizons; the basis of a Langton education.
Extending Language Provision
Students are able to study a wide range of other languages in extra curricula clubs (a small charge applies). The languages’ offer here is more unusual and bespoke. Currently, we have classes in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Arabic, and we are hoping to start Korean and Russian classes shortly. We also run courses in Italian. These usually run for around 20 weeks.
Ab Initio Course
We run an ab initio course in Spanish for those students who have not studied the language previously and are starting at the beginning thus creating possibilities for more tri-linguists in the school. This is run after school on a Thursday.
Introduction to TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
Students are able to learn more about their own language by following an introductory course in TEFL. This has proved to be immensely successful and provides the students with a great skill which they can use later on in life, particularly for those students who are thinking of a gap year before going to university.
Other exciting opportunities:
A theatre company, Onatti Theatre, come in each year to present their plays to our KS3 students. Having fun with languages and presenting such visual activities engenders interest and provides the students with another perspective on language learning and possibilities. These shows are usually offered to Year 8 and 9 students.
KS5 Modern Foreign Languages Conference
There is a languages conference, currently for Year 13 students, we run in-house with visiting lecturers from different universities, which plays an active part in promoting languages here in the school. This year there is involvement from Dr David Hornsby, Dr Tobias Henrich, Dr Rebecca Ogden, Dr William Rowlandson, Dr Heide Kuzelmann and Dr Larry Duffy from Kent University and Dr Natasha Ryan from Oxford University. Our own staff also take a pivotal role in the delivery of sessions showing their wider skills of research and dissemination. The day is run entirely in the foreign language.
IvE Lecture Series with a foreign culture twist
Our IvE courses and lectures are becoming well established and the Modern Languages Department participate fully in this lecture series. Our aim is to give all students points of view from other parts of the world; encouraging them to think more broadly about issues that affect us all, giving them the skills to see things from an international perspective. This allows them to widen their knowledge beyond the usual school curriculum. Lectures include: the Memories of the Spanish Civil War, what we can learn from the Cuban revolution in terms of ecology, how women change language in a society, Austrian literary culture, what the Occupation years in France teaches us, how Mexico still resonates with the politics of the past. We are adding more to this portfolio of lectures every year. Whilst these lectures are predominantly for KS5 students, others do attend by invitation.
Extended lecture series
Whilst it is important for all our students to attend the lectures above, we still feel it is imperative to continue to extend the linguistic experience of our students in KS4 and KS5. We provide additional lectures in the modern language which take in class time and are run by lecturers from universities; for example, a lecture on why French is like Cockney. This series of lectures is being added to every year.
Spanish Civil War
This year, working with external and internal lecturers we are introducing more activities to help create an awareness of what the Spanish Civil War was and the consequences of the conflict. These include a series of extended lectures from experts in this field including members of the International Brigades Foundation. There will also be an exhibition in January for students to deepen their study of the conflict. The Civil war is part of the A Level Spanish course; there is a mini module in the Year 9 scheme of work for Spanish and this year the History department is adding to its scheme of work for Year 9. Often students in KS5 study the civil war as part of their History A level course. We are hoping to extend attendance to these activities to parents and friends.
Language study days
Whilst there is no doubt of the interest in external lecturers and educationalists visiting our school, we believe it is stimulating for our students to visit different universities which promote links with schools through their language day opportunities. Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School has strong links with the University of Kent and takes groups of Year 8 and Year 10 students to the University of Kent language days. We are aiming to start a link with Southampton University and attend their KS5 day for MFL students, and Oxford has given the school an open invitation for KS5 students to attend which we will be benefiting from this academic year. These language days give students not only the chance to widen their linguistic skills through activities in the languages that they study, but also the possibility to try other languages on offer and experience a part of university life. Students are also given information about how languages are studied at university level and how they can be combined with other subjects.
Research in language
Dr David Hornsby is a French and sociolinguistics lecturer and, his work with the students through the lectures he has delivered, has led to an exciting development of being able to help him in his linguistics study. One student from Year 13 is part of his team which is looking into accents and language use from different areas of the county. This experience has been instrumental in changing students’ opinions of study of language in general.
Active Minds Project
It is well known that the study of languages keeps the mind active in a way that many other pursuits do not. Research has shown how it improves memory and could be instrumental in staving off dementia in later life. This year we are launching a project with Year 12 and 13 students who will learn how to teach languages and gain a nationally recognised qualification in the form of the Language Leaders’ Certificate. The culmination will be a use of their newly acquired skills to help and contribute in the community through the teaching of third age students (65+).
The creation of the MFL choir, which sings a range of songs in different languages, provides the opportunity to its members to experience language in a different context, improves their linguistic knowledge and also provides an outlet for their musical talents, the perfect combination with modern languages. All students from all year groups are welcome to attend.
Canterbury Christ Church University link
The languages department already has a strong link with Canterbury Christ Church University and offer places for Schools Direct trainees every year. we provide training to at least one languages’ teacher per year. The SLGGS languages department has also begun a series of training sessions for all student teachers of languages with the desire to share our good practice and innovative approaches.
This year Langton Girls’ was selected from amongst hundreds of schools in the UK and Europe to participate in the European Union’s translation competition with the prize being a trip to the EU headquarters in Brussels to be awarded the translation prize. Our students competed online simultaneously with the other schools across Europe and were presented with a challenging text to translate from the foreign language into English. This year our students from the Spanish year 12 and 13 class participated rendering the text from Spanish to English. We’ll see how they got in the next few weeks!