“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
This year has seen a big change in the languages department, which has come with a few challenges but many more rewards! For both year 9 and 10 students, it is now compulsory to learn a second language as part of their full-year programme. In our global world, it is important for all students to think beyond their own context and develop skills that allow them to adapt, tolerate, understand and empathise and remain flexible and open in their thinking and perception. All of this is a journey, which develops through the years in a language class and in some cases, exchange and travel opportunities.
Year 9 is often spent understanding that a different language works differently to English and has its own grammatical structures and cultural concepts. While this sounds simple, it does challenge the students’ thinking and should not be underestimated. In year 10 students start to reflect and contrast by using the second language to understand their own background, culture, and language. This leads to lively and enlightening discussions inside and outside the classroom and many of our students learn things about their own and other backgrounds they did not know and moreover, did not think to ask.
Everyone learns from everyone, including the teachers, in the second language classes and it is not restricted to the language they have chosen but more often than not, leads to a wider view of the world, food and culture, finding connections through ancestry and history and personal interests, products, students are surrounded by and last but not least, literally developing students’ senses (mainly taste buds).
The amount of students that are excited to take their language learning into their senior years is a positive sign that we are on the right path and that students not only enjoy the learning experience in the second language classroom but are also on the way of understanding the importance of language development and knowledge.