As a subject, Spanish is incredibly useful firstly because the ability to speak a foreign language enables you to communicate with far more people. It is worth remembering that Spanish is spoken by 17 % of EU citizens and 6.7 % of people worldwide. The ability to speak and understand Spanish also facilitates the study of Spanish and Hispanic culture in its original language, from understanding Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ to an developing an appreciation for the films of Almodovar, the poetry of Lorca and the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Studying Spanish will open your eyes to a whole world of colour, passion and beauty that you never knew existed, but that you will be glad you discovered.
The study of Spanish begins in Year 9 with a beginners’ course designed to give pupils a flavour for the language, history and culture of Spain. At the end of Year 9, pupils are given the option to continue with Spanish at GCSE. There is an annual trip to Spain for Year 9 pupils, which is designed to give them an opportunity to practise their linguistic skills as well as the chance to become acquainted with Spain and its culture, history and inescapable beauty.
The GCSE course commences in Year 10 and build upon the foundations laid in Year 9. The course itself is divided into 5 modules, enabling pupils to gradually develop their fluency as well as their cultural knowledge. The topics are:
(a) holiday and travel;
(c) identity and culture;
(d) future aspirations; and
(e) global dimensions.
Lessons focus upon and are designed around the four language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking, with the onus very much on pupils’ mastery of these skills.
As a school, we aim to support pupils in reaching beyond the confines of the GCSE with the study of Spanish culture and history alongside. The exam is divided into the four skills, with pupils sitting separate papers in each. Pupils will learn to understand sympathetic native speakers from all over the Spanish speaking world, as well as being expected to read and write letters and emails and give presentations, opinions and justifications.
A Level Spanish
In Year 12, the A Level carries on from the GCSE, enabling students to study the subject in far greater detail. In addition to the language, students study (a) social issues and trends; and (b) political and artistic culture, in relation to at least one Spanish speaking country. The other core element is grammar, and this is designed to ensure that students are sufficiently fluent by the end of the A Level course to enable them to attain an A* grade in the exam.
In addition to the core element, students study a choice of Spanish literature by authors including Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel in addition to Lorca and Garcia Marquez. We also study Spanish films such as ‘Volver’ by Almodovar and ‘El Laberinto del Fauno’ by del Toro amongst others. In this way students gain a deeper appreciation for and love of Spain and its culture.
The exam itself is divided into 3 papers.
- Paper 1 is a listening, reading and writing paper.
- Paper 2 is a written paper focusing on 2 of the works students have studied.
- Paper 3 is an oral exam, divided into 2 sections. The first section is based on the core element of the syllabus and requires the student to elicit information and opinions. In this way the conversation between teacher and student is more complex and demanding of the student’s linguistic skills. The second section will be based around the student’s own research project, which they will be required to research, develop independently and present and discuss with the examiner.