There are now 530 million Spanish speakers around the world. In Spain, in Latin America, the Caribbean and increasingly of course in the USA, where there are an estimated 41 million native speakers plus 11 million who are bilingual. Studying Spanish certainly opens many doors!
At NHEHS Spanish is offered from Year 7 to A Level. In Years 7, 8 and 9 girls will find that from the very beginning that lessons are delivered in Spanish thus giving them exposure to as much of the language as possible . They learn grammar and vocabulary in the context of topics and do so in lessons which practise all four language skills: listening; speaking; reading and writing. From the very start there is a strong emphasis on speaking skills and at this stage an emphasis on communication using transactional language which helps to build pronunciation, fluency and accuracy.
At GCSE the course is arranged around a series of topics which are studied along with grammar and vocabulary. The resulting strong foundation allows our students to understand and communicate with confidence and the course also develops an interest in Hispanic culture and society.
From the summer term of Year 10 and through Year 11, girls have an extra weekly lunchtime lesson, in small groups of three or four, with one of the Spanish Language Assistants. This prepares them for the speaking examination.
Trips and cultural opportunities:
Years 8 & 9: Teams compete in the national GDST Spelling Bee Competition
Year 8: Cultural trip to Avila
Years 10 & 11: Biannual homestay trip to Salamanca. The girls stay with Spanish families, with Spanish lessons in the mornings and cultural excursions in the afternoons
Year 11: Visit to Sadler’s Wells for the annual flamenco festival
Year 12 & 13: Girls enter for a regional Spanish debating competition
Year 12 & 13: Biannual cultural trip to Madrid
The jump from GCSE to A Level is a considerable one, and an integral part of the course is a rigorous revision and extension of Spanish grammar and vocabulary. From the outset there is a great focus on oral competence, and in small groups of two or three students have a weekly lesson with the Spanish Language Assistants. However, at A Level girls have a real opportunity to deepen their understanding of Spanish and Latin American cultures as well as develop their listening and reading comprehension skills to a high level. They learn how to communicate accurately and effectively both in spoken and written Spanish and they are able to debate and express complex opinions in Spanish – something promoted by the Department’s commitment to encouraging independent study using newspapers, the internet, magazines, films and literature.
Our A Level results are consistently excellent and many of our students go on to study Spanish at university, either as a single or joint honours degree. For example In recent years NHEHS students have combined Spanish with another language and subjects as diverse as law or film studies. Courses in Hispanic Studies which cover the languages and cultures not just of Spain but of the Portuguese-speaking world and in some cases Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country are also popular.