Spanish is the mother tongue of some 400 million people, equating to approximately six per cent of the global population, and, in terms of its popularity amongst language learners, Spanish shows no signs of slowing down. At Ashlyns, our aim is to create and nurture excellent linguists. We equip our students with the knowledge and skills that enable them to engage with a range of passages and diverse texts in both spoken and written Spanish.
The faculty of Modern Foreign Languages is fortunate to have foreign language assistants who work closely with Ashlyns’ pupils on a one-to-one and small group basis. Our students benefit enormously from this resource and notice rapid improvements in their self-confidence and fluency as they consolidate the learning that they have done in the classroom. In addition to their linguistic skills, students are aware, tolerant and appreciative of the value of the culture we enjoy from the Hispanic world. Our students are offered enriching linguistic and cultural opportunities beyond the classroom, which bring the joy of language learning to life. We are proud of our curriculum and our passionate staff who deliver it.
Key Stage 3
Our aim at KS3 is to introduce students to different languages and cultures and to lay the foundations for the new linear GCSE examination if they so wish to take a language as one of their option subjects. We cover all the core skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing as well as translation whilst also learning cultural aspects about the Hispanic world. Spanish is a very widely spoken language and, as such, we study aspects from Latin America as well as Spain. Learning a language instills confidence in our students and gives them other often overlooked benefits such as improving memory and decision-making skills.
Students study Spanish for 1 hour per week and will learn basic communication skills to be able to present themselves and details about themselves and their family and appearance in Spanish and to understand others presenting themselves in both written and spoken formats. They will also learn about free time and expressing opinions in Spanish focusing mainly on the present tense as well as grammar such as word order and adjective agreements. Cultural aspects will also be covered such as the day of the dead, Christmas and Easter in the Hispanic world.
Students study Spanish for 5 hours per fortnight from now on as they will have been able to indicate in year 7 if they prefer to continue with either Spanish or French. The skills gained in year 7 are further built on and expanded through various topics such as my school, my home, my town, diet and health, holidays and entertainment such as TV, cinema and music. We study verbs in more detail and learn the 3 basic tenses as well as other grammar such as adverbs of frequency. We will learn about a Hispanic country or region and its traditions and food.
This is an engaging and demanding year for our students as they perfect the foundation skills that they will require for the GCSE course. They will cover the world of fashion, daily routines and relationships and family, home, town, neighbourhood and region, my studies and life at school and college. We will also study a cultural project, Latin America and a film.
Key Stage 4
In KS4, we build on the core skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing in Spanish that they were introduced to at KS3. Students embark upon three themes of study at GCSE and follow the AQA specification: identity and culture (family, technology, free-time, customs and festivals); local, national, international and global areas of interest (home and local area, social issues, global issues); current and future study and employment (school, education post-16, career choices and ambitions). Students are required to have a good level of understanding and must be able to offer opinions and relate back to their own experiences in these areas.
Key Stage 5
As one would expect, in KS5 our students quickly notice an improved ability to communicate in Spanish as they work towards a more fluent command of the language, however there is so much more to learning a language. Our students explore history, politics, music and social issues and trends in Spain and Latin America as we move through the Edexcel specification and explore four main themes of study: the evolution of Spanish society; the political and artistic culture in the Spanish-speaking world; immigration and multicultural Spanish society; the Franco dictatorship and the transition to democracy. In addition to these topics, students also study a literary text, La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca, and a film, El Laberinto del Fauno by Guillermo del Toro. Our students are motivated, independent, and curious learners who complement what they do in the classroom by engaging with a wide variety of media – reading news and magazine articles, listening to podcasts and watching interviews with prominent figures from the Hispanic world.
Learning a language is a never-ending process. We are proud of the fact that many of our students decide to continue with their Spanish studies long after they leave Ashlyns, whether it is through travel, further study at university or incorporating it into their career choices. Our students tell us that the skills and qualifications that they gain from learning Spanish with us are incredibly important in helping them to succeed in their next steps.
Learning Beyond the Classroom
Languages are a practical subject that is everywhere beyond the classroom. We like to encourage our students to broaden their horizons and gather a better understanding of other cultures. We explore music, theatre and cinema in class through our curriculum and guide students to explore those in more depth in their own time. Depending on the interest of our students, we schedule additional viewing opportunities outside of lesson in school or outside. These can include trips to local theatres or cinemas.
We have also been running successful trips to France and Spain for the last fourteen years.
At Ashlyns, we believe that the development of students’ love of learning is of central importance in our curriculum. In order to give students every opportunity to develop this, we have developed a Challenge Curriculum which provides the opportunity for students to enhance their learning across the subjects. The activities contained within the Challenge Curriculum are for students to undertake independently, and take lots of forms, including watching films or clips, visiting museums, conducting independent research, listening to podcasts, and watching lectures online. They are by no means exhaustive, and we encourage all activities that enable students to engage with subjects beyond the classroom and further their learning. Students should let their teachers know which activities they have completed, and are able to earn merits for doing so.