Modern foreign languages
To learn a foreign language is not just about learning words or about learning grammar. Of course, these are important steps along the way to communicating in any language, but to learn a foreign language is to embrace, engage with and understand difference – different sounds, different linguistic structures, different attitudes, different histories, different perspectives and different cultures. Through the process of learning a second or third language, our aim is also to help students gain a greater insight into their own language and society too by the comparisons they make. Emperor Charlemagne was indeed correct when he said that to learn a second language was to possess a second soul.
At Thirsk School and Sixth Form College we offer French and German, and therefore introduce our students to either one or two of the most important languages historically, culturally and economically in western Europe. Through our lower school trips to Strasbourg and Freiburg, and our long-established German exchange we also want to give our students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a foreign culture beyond the classroom. On the exchange we aim for our students to engage with difference, but we hope also that they become aware that sometimes that there are many, many similarities. Within the classroom we strive to provide a rigorous but supportive learning environment, enabling students to experience success whatever their age or ability. Our expectations are high in terms of learning the building blocks of the language, because this is a prerequisite to accessing the joy inherent in being able to understand and communicate in a foreign language. We want students of all abilities to experience this challenge, although we are particularly proud of our students who go on to specialise in languages and linguistics at university level and beyond.