Here at Halsbury, we truly believe in the value of learning languages in school. Many of us are linguists ourselves and have been through the process of learning the language. Some of us, including our MD, Keith Sharkey, have also taught languages. For us, there are numerous benefits to learning a language, not least the opportunity it provides to gain a greater understanding of other cultures. With the Department for Education’s recent update of the subject content for the new modern foreign languages GCSE, we take a look at how a school language tour can benefit your students, who will be studying for this new qualification from 2016.
The expectation is that students taking this GCSE will develop the skills to communicate independently in the target language and that they will be able to conduct a spontaneous conversation with a native speaker (who is speaking clearly and using the standard form of the language at near-normal speed). From our own personal experiences, as well as the feedback that we receive from our groups, a school language tour provides students with a much more realistic experience of using the language practically.
By visiting the country in which the target language is spoken, students will find themselves in everyday situations where they must converse with native speakers, whether they are buying something from a shop, ordering a drink in a café, or even asking for directions. These experiences will develop their ability to speak spontaneously and independently. They will also have the opportunity to work on repair strategies and, perhaps most importantly, they will build their confidence. After all, we all know that there is nothing more satisfying for a language learner than when you are able to make yourself understood by a native speaker! This experience comes in particularly handy during the oral exams, when students are under pressure to speak independently.
Many GCSE language groups opt for our language school tours, as these offer language lessons at a specialist language school, plus a mixture of free time and cultural activities, which students can use to put what they have learnt in the classroom into practice! The best thing about these trips is that lessons will be designed to meet your specific curriculum requirements.
The new GCSE places a much greater emphasis on the culture of countries in which the target language is spoken. There are, of course, many ways to do this, but a school language tour allows pupils to explore the culture first-hand, giving them the opportunity to gain a far greater understanding and appreciation for this. Students return home with a greater passion for the subject, inspiring them to succeed. As well as the language school tours, we also offer language and culture tours, which work fantastically well as an introduction to the country and culture, allowing students to explore the culture whilst immersing themselves in the language.
The aims of the new GCSE are to provide students with language learning skills that will allow them to continue with their language studies, should they choose to, as well as broaden students' horizons by introducing them to a culture that is different to their own. In a world where it has never been more important to understand and embrace cultural differences, this can only be a good thing. The study of a language will also better prepare students to enter what is an increasingly global jobs market.
By incorporating at least one school language trip, you will give your students the opportunity to build on their language skills and to improve their confidence in using the language in its practical application, better equipping them for the exams. You will also be giving them the chance to really begin to understand another culture and broaden their horizons.
"Fantastic destination - a very safe city and a great way to experience the language and culture of Spain. The school was very welcoming and accommodating." Charter's School, Salamanca, June 2014
For information on how we can tailor-make the perfect school language tour for your group, contact us.