As dedicated teachers, we hope to instill a love of languages in our students, both in and beyond the classroom. These Modern Language Department web pages aim to give an insight into both the academic programme delivered in the classroom and the many and varied extra-curricular activities which the department provides for students of Modern Languages in St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh.
KEY STAGE 3
All students study French and Irish for four periods a week in Years 8 and 9 In addition to this they begin to study Spanish in Year 10, spending three periods a week on each language. Students also have the opportunity to enter Gael Linn quizzes organised by subject teachers and various other language competitions which arise. At the end of Year 10 all students sit their Fáinne exam in Irish.
Students may decide to travel on the four day trip to Paris, organised on a bi-annual basis, which includes a cultural and fun discovery of the delights of this historic city.
All students at Key Stage 4 study at least one language. The current competitive global market increases the need for a language qualification and an awareness of employment opportunities in this field. Therefore, we strive to provide these in the most comprehensive manner, both through the curriculum and in extra-curricular activities.
A number of students at this level attend the annual Opportunity Europe exhibition, which gives them the chance to learn more about careers with languages.
Last year we organized a very informative Promoting Languages morning for Year 12 students, with guest speakers who made a valuable contribution to raising awareness on the possibilities and opportunities afforded by taking languages beyond Key Stage 4.
Students at this level also have the opportunity to take part in Gaeltacht stays in Donegal, the Spanish Exchange to Granada or the French exchange to Reims. Students also have the option of taking up Italian, as a new subject, in the Twilight classes.
Students studying an A-level language enjoy a new dynamic in the classroom. The privilege of smaller class numbers has obvious benefits to individual learning. The diversity of team teaching, as well as weekly classes with the native language assistant, both make for a more creative and productive learning environment. The consortium with St. Catherine’s College in Spanish brings a new and enriching experience to both boys and girls.
Students at this level are strongly encouraged to exploit the benefits of our exchange programmes and Gaeltacht links. Equality of opportunity is afforded to all by the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Language Bursary, provided by the Past Pupils’ Union, on an annual basis.
The great personal development and academic success enjoyed by our boys is testament to the rewards of engaging in such ventures.
CELEBRATING LANGUAGE LEARNING
Every academic year begins with a celebration of language learning. On 26th September we celebrate European Day of Languages in various ways. This year we decorated the language corridor with European flags. We ran quizzes for Junior students. Senior language students chatted whilst they sold European snacks in the language classrooms at lunchtime. The canteen staff provided us with a delicious European menu to celebrate the day. We asked all teachers in the school to greet their students in different languages as we proudly flew the European flag outside our school. This is a great day when language students of all levels celebrate together.
Throughout the year we are always enthused by the many events organized that allow us to engage with others, to improve our own teaching and learning. These include study days, trips, quizzes and competitions.
Language teachers in St. Patrick’s are a hard working team of professionals who strive for academic excellence through delivering an interesting programme of study, which is relevant and stimulating, to the young linguists in our charge. Below you can see some recent events in the department.
In 2007 a link was established between SPGS and Lycée Privé Jean XXIII in Reims, France. The aspiration was to form regular contact with students in France with an exchange visit planned long term.
The partnership proving successful the first exchange took place in March 2008 when 10 French students, accompanied by their teachers, visited SPGS for a week long stay. Two weeks later we returned the visit to the beautiful region of Champagne.
We intend to enhance the linguistic and cultural opportunities of the exchange by continuing to forge these links and working to develop our comprehensive programme of activities for each stay. This project has seen approval and funding from the Lefèvre Trust through British Council.
We have a long standing tradition of students attending the Gaeltacht. Year 8 students attend the Gaeltacht College for 2 weeks with students in Years 9 – 14 enrolling for a 3 week stay.
Our students predominantly attend Coláiste Mhuire Loch an Iúir, which has been providing courses for some 60 years. Coláiste Gael Linn Machaire Rabhartaigh has equally been the choice of many of our pupils. Courses have been delivered there for over 30 years.
As well as summer days spent in Donegal we encourage our GCSE, AS and A2 students to attend the intensive exam preparation courses in Loch an Iúir, which are run at Easter. Many opt to do so, thus giving them an opportunity to make final preparations for their public exams in a relaxing yet stimulating environment.
The SELB established an initial link with the city of Granada in 1991. All schools in the board area were invited to participate in an exchange visit and students from St. Patrick’s have been involved for many years. This annual exchange visit is now organised by the teachers of a number of schools (including St. Catherine’s College Armagh, Our lady’s Grammar School Newry and St. Michael’s School, Lurgan).
Granada is a city in the region of Andalucía in southern Spain, situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, approximately 65 miles inland from the mediterranean coast. It is one of Spain’s most beautiful and colourful cities, containing a wealth of historical monuments, including the Alhambra Palace.
Students spend 10 days with a host family and attend school with their partner. This is an invaluable experience from a linguistic point of view. Furthermore it offers an opportunity to sample life in Spain from within a Spanish family. Students who have travelled in the past have established solid friendships with their host families.
RECOMMENDED SITES FOR FURTHER LANGUAGE PRACTICE