Spanish is one of the main European Languages along with French and German and it occupies second place for the most widely spoken languages in the world. Many countries use Spanish as their first language, such as Spain (of course) and most of South America. These are pretty large areas, which explains why Spanish is such an important language to learn. Not only does speaking Spanish help you get around in these areas more easily, it helps you to understand the Spanish people on a much higher level and why they do what they do.
Academically Spanish is a challenging A-Level to take but would not fail to impress any employer which comes across your CV in the future. The course at Theale for Spanish at A-level is a diverse and liberating experience that has many rewards, especially if you are fond of travelling and want to be more involved in the world outside of England. People make the mistake of thinking that English is the only language you need to speak because it is so widely spoken but this is certainly not the case. If you can speak a language foreigners will certainly appreciate you more if you make the effort to communicate with them even with just basic language ability, and travelling then becomes more enjoyable as it is easier to communicate. It’s only fair that we return the favour as English, indeed in Spain, is the second language because the Spaniards are obligated to learning it early on in their life.
The course has 6 compulsory units, units 1-3 are studied at AS-Level and the remaining units 4-6 at A-level. There are a variety of topics which are covered including the health system in Spain, the political situation of Spain in relation to the European Union, the state and the individual (i.e. human rights for the Spanish citizens), crime and punishment and traditional Spanish customs such as bullfighting and significant dates in the Spanish calendar. Throughout each lesson you learn new vocabulary and at least one lesson a week is dedicated to studying the grammar of the language.
Every year students are given the chance to speak with a native Spanish speaker on a weekly basis. These language classes are for no more than two students who will talk with them for an hour a week in a timetabled lesson. The language assistant is designed to help improve the quality of your Spanish and prepare you for a speaking exam at the end of the year, which is for unit 3 and 6 of the AS/A-Level course.
We have a number of facilities at Theale Green for languages. There is a languages building with 8 classrooms including two language resource rooms, one which has a computer in that you can use to do various language exercises and another which has lots of reading material, such as newspaper cuttings from foreign newspapers as well as a growing collection of literature in English and in The foreign language (i.e. Spanish, French, German) and these are available to all language students who want to do private study and have access to these things in a quiet environment.
After the sixth form there are many things you can do with languages. Many language students go on to university and take a languages degree or other subjects with a language at degree level, which will provide you with a range of skills for the future. Often on a languages degree you spend a long period of time in the country and have opportunities to work or teach English as a foreign language. This is often regarded by students as one of the most challenging yet invaluable, not to mention exciting, experience of their lives! After university you can then go into a number of careers including law, teaching, sales, and of course translating. Also the opportunity for working abroad for international businesses is always a strong option or you could opt to work in England teaching Spanish.
What do the students think?
”I think the course is well structured and exciting as it involves a range of interesting topics, for example the role of Spain in the EU, the transition from dictatorship to democracy and the culture of the various parts of Spain. I also like the fact that the lessons consist of small groups which gives you a chance to progress quicker with one to one teaching.”
Although the nature of the A-Level course means the language comprehension is more pressured due to the greater amount of vocabulary and grammar which needs to be learned in a shorter space of time, the personalised teaching style and advanced interactive facilities make this more of an invigorating challenge than an impossible chore.
By Selina Tagger