Dragons Today Summer 2014.indd - page 4

4
i s s u e n o . 9
Linguistic Dragons
Modern
Languages
The Dragon Modern Languages
department is a large and thriving
one with nine full-time and four part-
time members of staff teaching three
languages throughout the school.
There are also a number of external
tutors who give private tuition. From
the beginning of Year 1 to the end of
A Block (Year 8), pupils cover a great
deal during their time.
What does modern
languages at prep
school cover?
Dragon teachers encourage the use of
the target language to develop the four
skills of listening, speaking, reading and
writing. We encourage a variety of teaching
methods which cater for the different ways
of learning: kinaesthetic, auditory and
visual. We also try to bring the language
alive wherever possible. We aim to teach
using a spiral approach of repetition
throughout the Blocks allowing for regular
review of material covered. ‘The Languages
Challenge’ takes place at the end of every
term, building on the kinaesthetic teaching
of adjectives, modals and infinitives that
takes place in E Block (Year 4). All children
sit the Language Challenge at the end of
each term, marks are awarded and the
top three pupils in each class win a prize,
the presentation of which takes place in the
Forum with all takers and all pupils in the
Block. The aims of the department are to
instil a love and enjoyment of languages in
pupils and to provide them with the building
blocks which will enable them to go on to
their future schools, equipped with a sound
basis on which to build.
What is the benefit of
learning languages young?
There are many reasons why learning a
second language young can be beneficial
for children. Studying another language
and culture helps pupils to gain a broader
world view and teaches them respect and
curiosity about the world. It helps pupils to
better understand their own language and
how it works as they study the mechanics
of grammar and vocabulary and make links
between languages. It is good for the brain
as it teaches pupils transferable skills such
as spotting patterns, skimming texts and
learning for tests. Another huge benefit
of starting young is that pupils have not
developed an affective filter – the barrier of
self-doubt that can prevent older pupils from
speaking out and testing new language for
fear of making mistakes. It also gives pupils
increased opportunities in later life as they
can attain a very high level of competence
in a language or transfer their skills to many
more languages.
How do you make it fun?
Enjoyment and motivation are crucial elements
in language learning and it helps if what they
are learning is relevant to them and their
everyday existence. If pupils are enjoying the
subject, they must also be enjoying some
success and therefore making progress. They
respond well to enthusiasm, encouragement,
competition, varied teaching styles, the use
of ICT and praise. An inspired child inevitably
learns better. We allow the children to access
a number of language learning websites each
week including
Vocabexpress
for learning
vocabulary and grammar in a competitive and
fun way, Linguascope which has a number
of interactive games for younger pupils and
Thisislanguage which has a huge database
of video clips on relevant topics.
We run several language clubs including
‘Él Dragòn’ and ‘Love of Languages’ which give
pupils the opportunity practice their languages
through fun and educational activities whilst
allowing pupils in the Upper School extra time
to consolidate the work they covered in lessons.
We also have many events such as B Block
(Year 7) French sketches, A Block French play
and D Block (Year 5) French singing festival, all
aimed at instilling a love of languages.
How do the children
experience the culture of the
language they are learning?
The Dragon has a wonderful C Block (Year 6)
French exchange programme with the École
Lully in Versailles, a school which specialises
in Music. During the exchange pupils stay
with host families and have the opportunity to
test their French in real-life situations. Not only
do our pupils get to practise their French for
real but they also get a snapshot of French
home and school life. They also experience a
tourist’s view of Paris and Versailles, cruising
up the Seine in a Bâteau Mouche, snapping
the Eiffel Tower, visiting Notre Dame and
ordering lunch in a French restaurant. We
also have a day in Versailles itself visiting
The Château de Versailles and enjoying the
delights of the farmers’ market, where rather
gratifyingly, the children are always keen to
practise their French skills on the locals.
Upper School pupils have the opportunity
to immerse themselves in French culture
through watching a series of wonderful films
towards the end of B and A Block. The B
Block watch La Gloire de mon Père and Le
Château de ma Mère, whilst the A Block enjoy
Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources after
the end of their exams in the Summer Term.
In July we have a French Day at the Dragon
1,2,3 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12
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