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What will students be learning in Spanish this year?

Students begin their Spanish course in Year 7. We will start at the very beginning with introductions and common everyday expressions, before introducing a range of other topics such as family, pets, daily routine, number and dates, house, places in town, school, the weather, sport and hobbies and future plans. Students will also learn key grammatical points including present tense verbs, ser and estar and reflexive verbs. From the beginning we teach the structures of the language and model good pronunciation. This empowers the students to understand the language and form sentences for themselves, rather than learning everything parrot-fashion. Lessons use a mix of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Songs, video clips, games and computer-based activities help to bring the language to life and impart a sense of Spanish culture.

Building on the foundations laid in Year 7 and 8, Year 9 students will broaden their vocabulary and learn a wider range of structures, so that they can build extended sentences, refer to past events and future plans and ask and answer questions. Specific topics covered include personal relationships, technology and communication, regional customs and eating out as well as writing about activities you have done in the past and a recent holiday. Lessons use a mix of listening, speaking, reading and writing and the continued focus on oral as well as written communication, aims to equip students to really be able to use the language now and in the future. We will be also learning about cultural aspects such as carnival in Spanish-speaking countries, Spanish music and cooking.

Expectations of students in Spanish

The course is one hour a week of tuition in Year 7 with one homework of about 30 minutes per week, increasing to two hours a week in Year 8 and 9.  At the beginning this will frequently be a vocabulary or grammar learning homework and it is important that students see this as real homework. Homework may also be a written or comprehension exercise. Students' written work is marked using the department's marking codes. The codes are explained to the students and a copy placed in their books at the start of the year. The codes identify the type of error rather than simply writing in the correction so that students learn how to redraft their own work. They will usually be given the opportunity to do this and to ask any questions in lesson time.

What are the major assessments this year?

There will be formal end of unit tests as outlined in the assessment summary. These will take place roughly at the end of the first Autumn half term, the end of the Autumn term and the February half term and will address different skills as well as grammar. Each teacher will set ongoing grammar or vocabulary tests and will regularly assess and give feedback on written work. The end of year exam will include all topics and grammar covered and test all four skills.

What will the current performance grade be based on and what does it mean?

Students have been issued with descriptions of what they are expected to achieve by the end of the year. They are invited to self-assess their progress towards these targets once a term and discuss this with teachers, who also look at unit test marks, homework and performance in class when deciding the termly assessment. The end of year exam will play an important part in the final grade, but the teacher will look at the year's work as a whole when deciding.

What should my daughter do if she feels she is struggling in the subject?

She should not be afraid to speak about any concerns to her class teacher, who will give targeted support and advice and may suggest extra resources and strategies. Remember it is a normal part of the learning process to experience difficulties sometimes. Above all, don't give up!

How can I support my daughter?

Taking an interest in what she is doing and showing that you value what she is learning makes a tremendous difference. It is not necessary for you to know any Spanish yourself, although obviously it's great if you do. Otherwise asking her to explain what she has been doing in class, testing her on the vocabulary she has learnt, and looking through her book with her will help her consolidate her learning. Do encourage and praise her for her efforts.

What kind of independent work should my daughter be completing?

It is good practice to spend a few minutes looking through the lesson notes as soon as possible after the class, and then again, a few days later, rather than forgetting all about it till the next lesson! This is particularly true when it comes to learning new vocabulary. It does not need to take a long time but will help to keep the language fresh in the mind. We recommend a range of websites which your daughter can use to help with grammar and vocabulary and to learn more about Spanish culture.

Whom can I contact for further advice and information?

Please feel free to contact your daughter's class teacher in the first instance, but Mrs Montero-García as Head of Spanish is also available

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