The global village doesn’t mean that everyone will speak English; it means that we have more knowledge about other countries and cultures than ever before. So learning other languages isn’t just about communicating information. It’s the only way to understand how other cultures think and express themselves. As well as grammar and vocabulary, our language teaching draws on history, geography, politics, literature and film. In case that’s not enough of an incentive, whichever career you move on to, people with foreign language skills will always stand out compared to people without them.
At St Paul’s, we don’t keep our love of languages in the language lab or the conversation class – we’re a community where our students speak more than 30 different languages at home. We support a Modern Languages Society with its own magazine and students run a whole range of societies in the individual languages depending on their particular interests. Thanks to our links with foreign schools of a similar academic background, we’re also able to offer a huge programme of exchanges and cultural visits.
All incoming MIV will begin a ‘Discovering Language’ course which will harness their natural curiosity and enthusiasm and introduce them to the broad brush strokes of where language comes from and how it evolves. They will begin with a basic linguistics course and then be given the opportunity to explore three very different languages: Chinese, German and Russian, with a view to understanding more of the mechanics and motivation behind language learning before embarking on the ML1 and ML2 courses.
ML1 (Chinese, German or French) will begin in the summer of the MIV and will be quickly joined by a second language (any of the six on offer) in the UIV. If your child already speaks one of the languages offered for ML1 as a mother tongue or a fluent second language, we advise them to choose one of the other two as their ML1 (first modern foreign language). Equally, the courses offered in the UIV are beginner courses and would not be suitable for a native speaker. Provision can be made, in line with school policy, for native speakers to sit exams in their native language if this is one of the mainstream languages offered in the curriculum.