Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Language learning is thriving - Richard Wilson, Head of German and Other Languages

Despite the national press reporting a decline in pupil interest in learning a foreign language, Languages at Canford are thriving. The school currently offers French, German and Spanish as core subjects at IGCSE and Pre-U, and saw 145 entries at IGCSE last summer and 19 at Pre-U. Results are excellent, with on average 70% of IGCSE graded A*/A and over 70% of Pre-U examinations at D1/M1 level in these languages in 2017. 

Alongside these main languages, last year also saw the biggest ever year for the ‘Other Languages’ department. There were record numbers of native-speakers, bilingual and non-native speaking pupils learning and/or taking exams in a record ten different world languages – Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish and Urdu. Worldwide these languages are spoken by 2 billion people across four continents. A Level saw an A* in A2 Russian and As in AS Arabic, Italian and Polish and at IGCSE all examinations taken were awarded A*/A grades in Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish and Urdu. In addition, pupils also take the internationally recognised HSK Chinese and the JLPT Japanese language proficiency exams. On leaving Canford, many pupils also decide to study one of these languages as part of their degree at top universities. Recent languages combinations include Chinese, Spanish with Chinese, Spanish with Arabic, French and Japanese, Arabic and Ancient Greek, Italian with Danish, French with Italian, Italian and Japanese, Japanese with Russian and many more.

As one Canfordian commented:  "I love travelling to different countries and learning about new culture and I think languages will really help me in my career as now Europe is becoming very international. I am now fluent in English, Dutch and Russian, so hopefully they will guide me to many exciting career opportunities.”

It is a real pleasure to manage such a diverse range of languages and to learn about the pupils’ personal and cultural connections to them. My congratulations go to all pupils involved in our Other Languages programme and their excellent efforts.   

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