This week we are lucky to have a fantastic work experience student with us, who has written the following guest blog to give an insight into what language learning at school is like! Without further ado, here is Grace explaining what language learning is like as a school student:
What languages do you study/have you studied in the past?
Since year 7 I have studied French and German. When I started secondary school, my whole year had to study German once a week and half of my year had to do Spanish twice a week, and the other half did French.
Why did you choose these languages?
I chose to take French for my GCSEs because it is such a sophisticated and beautiful language and I decided to also take German for GCSE because, even though it can be seen as harsh, the long words and complex structure ensure it is always interesting. I, personally, prefer German because it is more unique. This is because a lot less people do it. In my year, out of the 180 girls who learned German, about 30 took it for their GCSEs. The rest of the year chose to do either French or Spanish.
What languages does your school offer, and do you wish any other languages were available?
My school offers French, German and Spanish lessons but you do not have a choice in which ones you learn until year 9, when you choose your options for GCSE. I would have liked the opportunity to learn Spanish because it sounds so soft and enchanting and the culture in Spain is beautiful. Furthermore, my school has Italian and Mandarin clubs where you can study extra languages, but not in as much depth.
Do you think languages are a popular choice for most students? Why or why not?
Although it is compulsory to take at least one language, I don’t think most students enjoy learning languages because they are only taught unimportant vocab about school, town and family. None of this is important in the real world because if you want to work abroad, telling people there is no ice-rink in your town, isn’t going to help. Furthermore, you hardly learn anything about culture until A-Levels, which is a shame because all of these countries are so interesting and beautiful, but not many people take language for A-Levels so they won’t get to learn about the charming countries.
What techniques for learning languages do you find useful?
I think the easiest way to learn a language is to submerge yourself in the language and culture, and I don’t mean travel there, but watch foreign movies, TV shows, listen to foreign music or read books and magazines. This will really help you learn useful vocab and understand the language. This is also very good as revision for speaking and reading exams without suffering through the boredom of rewriting notes and practice questions.
Do you hope to pursue a career based in language?
I would love to have a career in languages, and. I will most likely take French and German for my A-Levels, and probably further study them in either university or college. I would love to teach languages in secondary schools, be a translator or an interpreter.
Do you think language learning should be compulsory in schools? Why or why not?
I, personally, think it should be compulsory to learn at least one language, but during a student’s earlier years in high school, they should have more opportunities to learn different languages. This would make them more likely to pursue a career based in language, because they can find a language that they really enjoy and are inspired by. Also, I think languages should focus on important vocab, so more authentic texts should be used.
What do you think is the best part about learning another language?
I think the best part about learning a new language, would be the opportunities it can bring. You could easily live abroad without struggling with a language barrier, you could also study or work abroad easily. Furthermore, if you speak a language that not as many people speak as a second language, like German, it would be in a higher demand, so you could easily find a job with a higher pay. Finally, if you can have a whole conversation with a native speaker and you can understand what they are saying and reply in their language, it can really fill you with confidence and it you will feel so proud of yourself. So, even if, at times, learning a language can feel a bit boring, you should stick to it because it is worth it in the long run.
Let us know what you think of Grace’s guest blog on our social media below!