Pupils have the opportunity to study French, German and Spanish. The learning of foreign languages at Yarm starts young, at 3+ in the Early School, where all pupils learn French, and continues through the Prep. School. On entry to the Senior School, all pupils study French as their core language and German as part of a carousel. Additionally, all pupils are given the opportunity to study Spanish as an option from the beginning of the Third Year. Our most able and enthusiastic therefore have the almost unique opportunity to study all three languages up to GCSE and A-Level, should they choose to do so. All pupils sit the Edexcel IGCSE in whichever of the three languages they are still studying at the end of the Fifth Year. In the Sixth Form all three languages are taught to A level, again using the Edexcel Specification. At a time when the study of modern languages is under funding pressure and in decline nationally, the curriculum at Yarm School counters the trend, placing importance on the delight and value of developing linguistic skills, as well as fostering appreciation of the vibrant cultures of our European neighbours.
At Yarm School, we believe that learning to communicate with people in their own language opens doors, no matter what your choice of career. Studying a foreign language also teaches a whole range of skills applicable to other subjects – from reading and analysing texts to learning to express yourself in front of your peers. As a department, we believe very strongly in communicative teaching and try to teach almost entirely through the target language. The Head of Department is Mr Simon Ravenhall, who has been in post since 2002. Language lessons are principally taught in a suite of outstanding modern classrooms on the ground floor of the Riverside Building, which offer panoramic views of the stunning open countryside beyond the River Tees. Five purpose-built language classrooms with excellent audio-visual facilities give pupils access to authentic target language materials on a daily basis.
Language visits abroad are central to the ethos of the department and offer invaluable, enriching educational experiences. All pupils in First and Second Year can take part in a four day residential trip to the German Christmas Markets and, from the Third Year onwards, every pupil is encouraged to take part in at least one of our language residential trips to France, Germany and Spain. These are fantastic opportunities to experience both an insight into another culture and immense linguistic benefits.