Languages & Classics
For many of our students, the highlight of their Classics experience at Burgess Hill Girls is participating in one of the trips: visiting Rome and Sorrento, exploring the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, going up Mount Vesuvius to look inside the crater, or climbing the Acropolis in Athens to see the Parthenon at close quarters and taking a guided tour of the sites of Classical Greece.
In the classroom, following the Cambridge Latin Course, our students enjoy being able to explore the stories, interactive language activities and cultural links on electronic devices; they also find that seeing the DVD video clips on the Smartboard brings the Latin stories to life for them. Study of the Latin language is complemented by background information on Roman culture and civilisation: Roman dinner parties, gladiators, baths, slavery, theatre, beliefs about life after death – our students enjoy learning about them all.
Our students read the works of famous authors such as Virgil, Ovid, Cicero and Tacitus, which have inspired many later generations. As well as being exciting and inspiring, this helps our students develop analytical skills and intellectual flexibility – extremely valuable tools for their futures.
For our students of Classical Civilisation there are the delights of Greek theatre; they learn about tragedy’s most infamous hero, Oedipus; they discover the implications of dishonouring a god, like Pentheus does to Dionysus with disastrous consequences; they follow the journey of Dionysus and Xanthias into the Underworld, in one of Aristophanes’ most famous comedies. They also study the rise of three men, Cicero, Cato and Caesar, determined to inscribe their names into the annals of history, with each suffering catastrophic ends; it’s no wonder our pupils enjoy their studies.
Some students take up the exciting opportunity to study Classical Greek. They enjoy learning to read and appreciate Greek literature, by authors such as Herodotus and Homer in its cultural context and in its original language.
As a major trading partner of the United Kingdom and a favourite holiday destination, French is an exceedingly popular and useful language to learn. Throughout the learning of French we enhance our knowledge of History, Geography, Literature and even have a better appreciation of English!
Our aim is to make learning French a rewarding experience by giving the students the necessary tools to be able to express themselves confidently and accurately. We start in the Junior School, where the emphasis moves gradually from oral communication to the introduction of reading and writing, thus preparing our students to the challenges of secondary school.
In the Senior School our state of the art language lab gives the students the opportunity to have genuine conversations and hone on their listening skills. Our French Assistant, a young graduate, teaches small groups at KS4 and the Sixth Formers benefit from weekly one to one lessons, steadily developing their oral competence in a convivial and friendly environment.
French culture and the Francophone world are an inherent part of the course and every opportunity to introduce the students to French society and way of life is actively sought: the students are encouraged to watch films, read real French websites and Years 9 and 10 thoroughly enjoy discovering life in the south of France with the French Exchange trip to Avignon. French literature and current affairs are taught in the Sixth Form and it is with great pleasure and immense pride that we see many students choosing to read French at university.
German, the language of Philosophers, Scientists, Writers and Musicians, Artists and successful Sportsmen and women is also the first language of the European economic powerhouse.
The Modern Languages’ Department has access to a modern computer suite equipped with language laboratory facilities. The main German classroom is equipped with a multimedia projector and interactive whiteboard. Pupils have access to a range of language learning software, German television broadcasts and, of course, to the internet with its wealth of material and specialist websites.
The Department also has a useful selection of DVDs, books and magazines; cultural enrichment is high on the agenda. A number of festivals are celebrated including a Lebkuchen baking session at Christmas. Overall, there is a strong emphasis on a communicative approach to language learning and extensive use is made of interactive audio-visual and ICT resources.
Spanish is taught by native speakers and by bilingual staff whose knowledge of Spanish far exceeds the level normally required for teaching at A Level. Our combined experience ranges from primary schools to three prestigious Russell Group universities. The department is truly international: we are familiar not only with Castilian Spanish, but also Latin American varieties. Our students know they won’t get red wine when they order ‘tinto’ in Colombia!
Our approach to teaching is multi-disciplinary. At A Level, the study of Spanish history gives students wider insights into twentieth century history, historiography and political philosophies, as well as essay-writing guidance that will help them to excel at university across the humanities and social sciences.
From the beginning of their studies in Year 8, we place emphasis on teaching Spanish in ways that foster greater awareness of English grammar and associated improvements in verbal reasoning.
We run a variety of Spanish-only activities to develop confidence and speaking skills. In our Café Español girls discuss in Spanish the issues they are passionate about in Spanish and play scrabble over a Spanish hot chocolate. Spanish tennis club offers the opportunity for sport in Spanish, while A level students also have the chance to cook an authentic dish (with Mr Montesinos providing secret recipes from his mother in Barcelona).
“Now I feel I am a better person. Spanish at Burgess Hill has given me the opportunity to study disciplines that I didn’t know I could – literature, history, geography.” (former A Level student).