In a world where international contacts are increasingly vital and where global communication is ever easier, the importance of being able to speak other languages and understand different cultures is paramount. Watson’s is committed to equipping our pupils with these skills, and the process begins in the early years of the Junior School when pupils are introduced to French.
In the Senior School, we can teach French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian and Chinese. The Modern Languages Department is committed and energetic, and we are fortunate to have native speakers on the staff, as well as Foreign Language Assistants from France or Belgium, Germany, Spain, Taiwan and Italy. All of the staff have spent prolonged periods abroad and are committed to the ideals of internationalism.
Pupils are encouraged not to view languages in isolation, and cross-curricular activities include the use of ICT in the classroom. The Department offers trips and exchanges to France, China, Spain and Germany on an annual basis.
The Department also administers a Language Scholarship fund, which allows successful senior pupils to travel abroad to improve their skills.
Pupils can choose from French, German, Spanish or Chinese in S1.
Pupils have to continue with their first foreign language up until the end of S4, and a very large number continue to Higher and Advanced Higher. Some opt to do the IB qualification. If pupils wish to take up a second language, French or Spanish are offered in S3. We also offer courses starting in S5 and S6, which lead to a variety of qualifications in German, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin.
The emphasis in language learning is on speaking, as the ability to communicate orally is an essential skill. However, at all levels, we underpin this with solid learning of grammar and vocabulary, and we develop the skills of listening, reading and writing at all stages of the curriculum.
Language learning is put into context by a number of exchanges and cultural visits, as well as drama competitions, language-speaking days, and outings to see foreign films and plays.
The Department continuously seeks to extend its programme of visits abroad. For example, in addition to our current S2 French exchange programme, our S2 pupils are now given the opportunity to take part in a study visit to France, Germany, Spain or Taiwan, during the month of May.