Spanish GCSE

Why learn Spanish?

The importance of learning a foreign language cannot be underestimated in today’s world as it is becoming more and more important to communicate with people both in Europe and throughout the world. Even if you do not wish to work abroad many businesses and companies in the UK trade with those in foreign countries and the opportunities are immense. Many UK universities are now beginning to ask for a Modern foreign language at GCSE or above as part of their entrance requirements, even for students not planning on studying a language. They feel that studying a language is proof of aptitude and flexibility and shows an interest in other cultures.

Spanish has the second greatest number of native speakers in the world, estimated at more than 427million people. It is the official language of 20 countries worldwide and is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States and the Union of South American Nations.  At St. Michael’s Spanish is taught to all students from Year 9 with the aim of instilling into them a love of the language and an interest in the culture of Hispanic countries and their people.

At Key stage 3, students enjoy learning about Spain and Latin America whilst the all-important skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing are introduced. A wide range of activities is used to promote a firm understanding of grammar and vocabulary and to ensure that the course is accessible, useful and enjoyable. Students are then well-equipped to continue to GCSE and beyond.

Course Content

At Key stage 4 we continue to teach the essential skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Year 11 are the final students who will sit the examination which has been in place since 2009. Many of the topics in both old and new courses are similar but the big difference is that the old course consists of 60% coursework, 30% of which is Speaking and 30% of which is Writing. The remaining 40% is made up of Listening and Reading in equal parts. In Year 10 we are now beginning the new WJEC syllabus and scheme of assessment where all four skills are given equal weighting i.e. 25% each and there is no coursework. The new course is again topic based and pupils will be given the opportunity to listen and respond to authentic Spanish material, engage in both short and extended conversations in Spanish, read and respond to announcements and longer texts and write short messages as well as more extended responses in Spanish. The information below relates to the new course.

Course Content

The context for learning the language is organised under three broad themes and each broad theme is divided into sub-themes.

1 Identity and culture
• Youth Culture – Self and relationships • Technology and social media
• Lifestyle – Health and fitness • Entertainment and leisure
• Customs and Traditions – Food and drink • Festivals and celebrations

2 Wales and the World – areas of interest
• Home and Locality – Local areas of interest • Travel and Transport
• The Wider World – Local and regional features and characteristics of Spain and Spanish speaking countries • Holidays and tourism
• Global Sustainability – Environment • Social issues

3 Current and future study and employment
• Current Study – School/college life • School/college studies
• Enterprise, Employability and Future Plans – Skills and personal qualities • Post-16 study • Career plans • Employment

Assessment

All four skills are assessed by means of examinations which are each worth 25% of the final mark. All examinations can be entered either at Foundation or Higher tier depending on the individual pupil’s ability.

• Unit 1: Speaking Oral test: 7-9 minutes (Foundation tier) 10-12 minutes (Higher tier) 25% of qualification 60 marks
Three tasks: Role play, Photo card discussion Conversation – Part 1 and Part 2 Learners are not permitted to use dictionaries in any part of the assessment.

• Unit 2: Listening Written examination: 35 minutes (Foundation tier) 45 minutes (Higher tier) 25% of qualification 45 marks Listening comprehension tasks with non-verbal and written responses Learners are not permitted to use dictionaries in any part of the assessment.

• Unit 3: Reading Written examination:1 hour (Foundation tier) 1 hour 15 minutes (Higher tier) 25% of qualification 60 marks Reading tasks with non-verbal and written responses, including one translation task from Spanish into English. Learners are not permitted to use dictionaries in any part of the assessment.

• Unit 4: Writing Written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes (Foundation tier) 1 hour 30 minutes (Higher tier) 25% of qualification 60 marks Writing tasks including one translation task from English into Spanish Learners are not permitted to use dictionaries in any part of the assessment.

Where does it lead?

Speaking a modern foreign language is an advantage in any job, particularly if you wish to work abroad in any context, but it is particularly useful, if not essential, for the following : Language teacher, Interpreter, Translator, International lawyer, Travel Agent, Diplomat, Journalist, Businessman/woman, Bilingual Secretary, Civil Servant, Pilot/Air Crew, Armed Forces, Tour Guide, Conference Organiser, Hotel/Catering Manager, Civil Servant, Exporter, Wine Producer, Antique Dealer and many more.

Reading List

• Caminos 2 Niobe O’Connor and Amanda Rainger
• Caminos 3 Niobe O’Connor and Amanda Rainger
• WJEC Spanish GCSE Bethan Mc Hugh and Chris Whittaker

Useful websites:

There are many which provide information and practice at this level: the following are very useful:
www.languagesonline.org.uk
www.learnspanishfeelgood.com
www.sunderlandschools.org.uk
www.lesclesjunior.org.uk

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