To communicate effectively and meaningfully with someone requires a profound understanding of their world view which is rooted in the language they speak.
The acquisition of language skills is therefore central to a pupil’s personal, cultural and social development, as well as providing an important intellectual challenge.
Pupils have the opportunity to take courses in seven languages during their school career. They learn to be confident, accurate and articulate linguists, engaged with the cultures of the countries whose languages they study. Our philosophy aims to foster curiosity and independence as well as valuing accuracy and precision.
Pupils can follow courses in five languages: CIE IGCSEs in French, German, Italian and Spanish (CIE IGCSE).
In all our work, equal emphasis is given to the four language skill areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking, and much of the focus of our teaching is on the practical application.
We go well beyond the syllabus in content and all courses involve a cultural element. Our pioneering IGCSE French course, for example, includes units of work on la BD (French comics), le remake (examining French cinema by comparing French films remade in Hollywood), a study of the Occupation of France in the Second World War through film and some nineteenth century short stories.
Pupils relish the challenge of studying a foreign language and a good number continue to do so beyond IGCSE, with a great deal of success. We offer courses in French, German, Italian and Spanish (Pre-U). The teaching of literature and the focus on the culture of the country whose language we are studying adds a further dynamic to our provision of foreign language teaching. Weekly work on a personal portfolio gives students the opportunity to carry out deeper study of an area of particular interest, to read articles and news content of interest to them, and to prepare a topic for analysis in the oral component.
Japanese and Portuguese are offered as non-examined General Studies courses in the Lower Eighth (Year 12).
Our co-curricular programme is hugely exciting and varied. A wide range of trips abroad, and to galleries, exhibitions, theatres and cinemas in London, adds greatly to the experience a modern languages pupil has at St Paul’s. From the Fifth Form (Year 10), all linguists have the opportunity to practise their spoken language in small conversation classes with one of our five native-speaker assistants. Our Modern Languages society, Eurosoc, is one of the busiest and we have our own twice-yearly magazine, Metro, to which all the languages contribute.
We support pupil-led initiatives, this year alone seeing the creation of Linguasoc, and the Foreign Film society. The Fourth Form have an extremely popular poetry recital competition each year, in which poems are performed in each of the languages on offer. We enter pupils for young translator competitions where they routinely achieve success and the Linguistics Olympiad, with numerous recent gold medal winners, some of who have been selected to participate in the International competition.