Modern Foreign Languages at the British School of Bucharest

Learning to speak and understand a foreign language provides a valuable educational, social and cultural experience and encourages students to embrace a global outlook on the world. Having the skills to speak a foreign language equips students for fulfilling careers with an international dimension.

Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) enriches the British school curriculum by promoting initiative, confidence, creativity, intercultural sensitivity and independent learning. The languages we offer are French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. MFL is a compulsory subject from Year 3 to Year 11 (Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4), and students can choose to study French, German, Spanish or Mandarin at IGCSE/GCSE and A-Level.

We also fully support those students with a strong knowledge of languages other than English, enabling them to sit international examinations to certify their proficiency. Recently, British School of Bucharest students successfully studied IGCSEs/GCSEs and A-Levels in Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Greek, Italian and Japanese.

Our approach to language teaching stresses the importance of communication in language – we prepare our students to be successful when using the foreign language in real-life situations and when talking to native speakers. Because all MFL teachers at our school are native or near-native speakers, our students receive a significant amount of authentic language input. Furthermore, we arrange regular visits from native speakers to language lessons to allow the students to apply their skills more fully.

When pupils start learning the foreign language of their choice in Year 3, our experienced teachers focus on listening and speaking, gradually introducing pupils to the written form of the language. Pupils join in a variety of learning activities that provide enjoyment and stimulation, such as games encouraging vocabulary retention, chanting rhyming words, singing songs, role-plays and responding to simple stories. The methods we use cater for all the learning styles, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.

As pupils progress through Key Stage 2, they move from the single-word level to the sentence level, learning the core vocabulary associated with topics that interest them and enjoy talking about.

In Secondary, students learn to manipulate the language and go beyond mere imitation towards more natural use. Students learn through role-plays simulating real-life situations, research projects, presentations and interviews with native speakers. Cross-curricular links with other subjects in the British school curriculum (History, Art, Geography, Music and Mathematics, for example) reinforce the relevance of foreign languages. We focus on enabling students to take authorship of their own learning by developing independent learning skills and being aware of language-learning strategies.

Events outside the classroom highlight the intercultural dimension of language learning. Every year we organise trips abroad to provide students with an excellent opportunity to experience foreign languages in action.

In Year 7, students will learn one Modern Foreign Language.

Students will develop the ability to communicate effectively in the target language, through both the spoken and the written word, using a range of vocabulary and structures. They will also learn about the countries and communities where the target language is spoken. The goal of the course is to be able to understand and use the target language in a range of familiar and practical contexts.

In Year 8, they will add a second Modern Foreign Language from beginner level and continue with these two languages until the end of Year 9. The topics covered are diverse to enhance the students' vocabulary. By the end of Key Stage 3, grammar acquisition will include present, past and future tenses, genders and use of adjectives, and sentence structure relevant to the language.

During Key Stage 4, students choosing the IGCSE Modern Foreign Languages course will be able to select one of the following languages: French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. 

The goal of the two-year course is to understand and use the target language in a range of familiar and practical contexts and for a variety of purposes. In some cases, students may complete a single IGCSE course in one year and undertake a second IGCSE course in Year 11.

In Key Stage 5, students will have the possibility to choose between a couple of different courses. 

Edexcel IAL French/German/Spanish - for students with a qualification such as an IGCSE in French/German/Spanish.

AS/A Level Mandarin - for students with a minimum Grade 6 at IGCSE in Mandarin in all sections assessed; speaking, listening, reading and writing or students who have achieved five IGCSE grades A-C in other subjects. 

Both courses are meant to enhance the students' linguistic skills and develop their capacity for critical thinking based on their knowledge and understanding of the country's language, culture, and society or countries where the language is spoken.

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