Modern Languages

The Modern Languages Department encompasses the teaching of French, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian and Mandarin from beginners' to university entrance level. It has 27 members of staff, including 9 Language Assistants for oral work.

All pupils at Marlborough study at least one language to (I)GCSE and about half choose to study two. Currently French and Russian are available as A levels, and German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish as Pre-U subjects. In addition, Italian, Mandarin and Japanese are available as as optional subjects up to (I)GCSE level in the Sixth Form.

Arabic is taught off timetable as an option. Extra classes for native or semi-native speakers are offered where there is demand, and these classes may be chargeable. About a third of the Upper School studies a Modern Language.

The Department is located in a purpose-built Languages Centre with full audio-visual equipment, internet, projectors and smartboards in every classroom. Independent learning is increasingly encouraged, facilitated by the flexibility offered by wifi, ipads and Macbooks. There is also a PC suite, and the departmental library is currently under development as a multi-media resource for individualised learning and research.

Study visits or exchanges exist in both the Lower School and Upper School in French, Spanish, German and Russian, and links are being forged with China.

Departmental Aims

'He who is ignorant of foreign languages knows not his own' - Goethe

The study of Modern Languages has at its core the opening up of minds to new worlds through personal engagement with linguistic and cultural difference.

Knowledge of foreign languages can transform personal relations and experiences, and enhance professional opportunities. The perceived difficulty of modern language learning has meant a sharp national decline in numbers over the last decade, a trend which Marlborough has strongly resisted.

On their arrival at Marlborough pupils are given a taster in up to six different languages, from which they choose to study two in the Shell. At least one language, and as an option two, are continued to (I)GCSE and the department aims to satisfy every combination of preferences. The language taught is the preferred language of communication in the classroom, and the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing are given equal emphasis throughout.

After three years' study pupils are able to understand and communicate in everyday situations, which for example arise on the exchange or study trips laid on for Remove and Hundred pupils, and on family holidays. Oral lessons with a Language Assistant are provided weekly in the Hundred and above to enable individual conversation. Beyond communication skills pupils will learn much about their own language as they analyse a foreign language, and will learn how language affects and forms ideas; thus it provides a gateway to intercultural understanding.

The study of modern languages in the Sixth Form enables the creation of a profound and lifelong knowledge of, and interest in other cultures. Within a continued style of cooperative and interactive learning students learn about the countries concerned from an adult perspective, covering topics such as tourism, family relationships, technology and health in the Lower Sixth, and social issues, the environment, politics and an exploration of individual cultural topics in the Upper Sixth.

From September 2015 the Pre-U is being offered in Spanish, in addition to German, Italian, and Mandarin, a curriculum which lays emphasis on the study of culture via literature and film. At A Level French and Russian the study of literature, famous artistic achievements, periods of history and geographical are offered.

Weekly one to one tuition with native speaker Assistants accelerates oral competence and, in addition to participation in departmental trips and exchanges, students are encouraged to spend time abroad during the course and immerse themselves in the language and life of the countries they are studying.

Throughout their time at Marlborough language societies will lay on enrichment activities, and in the Lower Sixth all linguists perform in an outdoor drama festival, where confident and accomplished performances in a foreign language showcase advanced language competence.

Many pupils go on to study Modern Languages at university which reflects the importance of the subject at Marlborough, and the life skills which they acquire.