Charlemagne, often honoured as the ‘Father of Europe’, is believed to have suggested that “to have another language is to possess a second soul”, whilst the medieval English philosopher Roger Bacon insisted that “a knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom”. Over 700 years later, then, it is reassuring to know that Bradfield’s pupils leave us with a strong command of languages and a thirst for a multi-spirited sapience.

This, of course, is thanks to the College’s flourishing Modern Languages Department, which offers French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic and British Sign Language (BSL), both through its formal curriculum and a plethora of additional enrichment opportunities. Playing a pivotal role in this provision is the department’s five-strong team of native Foreign Language Assistants (FLAs) who work alongside dedicated teaching staff in the delivery of an outstanding linguistic and cultural education. Far beyond the reaches of verbs and vocab, however, our FLAs bring with them a deeper cultural understanding behind the languages they teach and an ability to share their own inspirational stories of using their native and foreign languages in context.

Jamie Emmett, Head of French, speaks to Séverine, Maëlle, Sofia, Maria and Eva to find out more about their lives, helping our pupils to develop open-mindedness and enhance their multicultural awareness while seeing their confidence grow.

Pupils develop their open-mindedness and their multicultural awareness.

JE: Hi, everyone! Would you like to introduce yourselves to our Bradfieldian readers?

SW: Salut ! Je m’appelle Séverine et je viens de la région de Bourgogne qui est située dans le centre de la France. J’habite près du village de Sancerre qui produit un délicieux vin blanc. Ma ville, Cosne sur Loire, est traversée par la Loire qui est la plus longue rivière de France.

MP: Je m’appelle Maëlle. Je viens de Paris et j’ai 24 ans. J’ai fini mes études il y a deux ans avec un master de traduction professionnelle français-anglais. L’an dernier, j’étais assistante en université au Canada. Dans mon temps libre, j’écris beaucoup et je fais de la broderie.

SC: Hallo, darf ich mich vorstellen? Ich heiße Sofia Claudino de Lima, bin 21 Jahre alt und komme aus Wetter, einer kleinen Stadt am Rande des Ruhrgebiets im Westen Deutschland. Ich studiere Englisch und Spanisch mit dem Ziel Lehrerin an einer weiterführenden Schule zu werden. Nach meinem Jahr in Bradfield gehe ich zurück nach Deutschland um meinen Bachelor of Arts abzuschließen.

MPR: ¡Hola! Soy Maria, mi ciudad natal es Montilla (Córdoba). Montilla se caracteriza por su aceite de oliva y sus viñedos.

EGG: ¡Hola! Soy Eva, vivo en Villarrobledo (Albacete). Sí, aunque no lo parezca existe vida más allá de Madrid, Barcelona y Sevilla (risas). Mi ciudad es conocida por sus maravillosos carnavales, sus tinajas y el festival Viña Rock.

 

JE: And what brought you to Bradfield?

MP: After my year in Canada, I wanted to have another FLA experience, this time with younger students. England is a lot closer to home and, having been brought up on Harry Potter, I was very curious to see what a real boarding school is like! Bradfield is so unique in its location and philosophy that it immediately caught my eye.

MPR: For me, it was the beauty of the English countryside. When I am in the country, I feel like a ‘pez en el agua’.

JE: And what, if anything, do you miss about your home country? Is there anything you would miss about living here?

EGG: I miss my mother’s food and being able to go out to dinner with friends later than 10 at night! Leaving England, I would miss the politeness and kindness of the people. I think that sometimes I have received more favours from strangers in this country than in Spain and that is appreciated.

SW: I sometimes miss going to a typical French bakery as there are so many mouth-watering bread, pastries and cake options!

SC: Apart from the obvious (i.e. friends and family) I probably miss two things the most: a good dark wholegrain bread and German Christmas markets! When I leave England, I will definitely miss the British politeness and friendliness as well as the beautiful countryside and the stunning landscape.

Having the opportunity to work in a multicultural context has greatly enhanced my cultural background.

JE: Can you tell me a little bit about what you do as an FLA?

EGG: I am involved in helping pupils to prepare for their GCSE and A Level orals as well as oral practice with IBDP. I provide statistics, figures and information about different issues so that pupils in the Sixth Form can compare Spain and the UK. Moreover, I consider the needs of each pupil in terms of grammatical aspects. In this way, I focus not only on linguistic content but also encourage critical thinking by asking relevant questions about different topics.

MP: As I am the new French assistant, I mostly help with the Fifth Formers and the younger pupils, providing practice for French classes. This year we have had several special cases, like bilingual pupils who need grammar help, or younger pupils who have already passed their GCSEs. When my classes are done, I help around the department, creating resources to boost pupil engagement and support their teachers.

 

JE: How would you describe the impact you have on our pupils?

MPR: I feel that pupils I interact with develop their open-mindedness and their multicultural awareness.

SW: I believe that I have the opportunity to target their learning to suit their individual needs and see their confidence grow.

 

JE: And what do you think an FLA adds to our department?

SC: The FLAs have the huge advantage of “just” being here to support, so we are quite flexible with our time and are able to cover a lesson, offer extra lessons and help with all the minor tasks that have to be done quickly in MFL. Also, as we are all natives in our respective language, we can convey the authentic use of it as well as a lot of vocabulary and knowledge about the culture to help pupils find their way around, both in and outside the classroom.

 

JE: For you personally, what do you take away from your work as an FLA?

MP: It teaches me a lot about my own use of languages, I think. Knowing how to use them is one thing but explaining why they work the way they do can prove very challenging.

SW: A pride and satisfaction in watching the pupils achieving their targets.

EGG: Having the opportunity to work in a multicultural context. This experience has greatly enhanced my cultural background.

JE: Thank you all for your time, and of course for everything you do! To finish, how would you sum up your experience so far in one word?

SW: Eye-opening.

MP: Fascinating.

SC: Enriching.

EGG: Inspirational.

MPR: Fulfilling.

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