Most people dreaded language classes in school or used them as a time to mess about, but for me
language classes were a window into something beyond, something more exciting than the entirety of my all girls' grammar school in the north of England.
Throughout school I studied French and Spanish from Year 7 right up to Year 13 for my A Levels. I also was able to do German in both Year 7 and 8, but did not continue because I had to take it after school to fit in with my other subjects and as I found it far harder than French and Spanish. Having made lots of German friends during my Year Abroad, I am glad I learnt a few words back then.
I was very lucky to have some amazing MFL teachers during school who were passionate about languages and simply wanted to share that with their students. They made their lessons as fun and interesting as it was possible with the curriculum, showing us films and giving us books to show us why we were studying.
This enabled us to see that although some of the grammatical structures might seem super complicated, there is a good reason to use them!
It was my MFL teachers who always tried to overcome the difficulties that came with underfunding and lack of resources; being creative with the resources we had and what we could do. They made matching activities and games to help us learn the vocabulary, and they helped us learn the vocabulary in different contexts by giving us news articles about the topics we were learning.
They gave us songs to fit grammar structures and vocabulary into; I was able to learn more about francophone music culture thanks to them and was introduced to reggaeton for the first time. I was able to learn more about the culture and history through the efforts of my teachers – I would not
have chosen to continue languages at university it wasn’t for my MFL teachers.
MFL was always a fun subject for me, an enjoyable break from learning about plant hormones, memorising the periodic table and writing long essays – it was easy for me to see the purpose and
uses of languages, yet I struggled to see how circle theorems would enhance or even come into my
later life at all.
I could see all the doors foreign language learning could open in the future; all the countries it would give me access to and all the people I would be able to communicate with.
The language exchanges always brought a welcome excitement into the school, especially when the
French students tried to smoke on the school grounds and the excitement of having boys on our
school for once. The opportunity to speak with native speakers and learn about their lives and
culture was so fun and so different.
My school’s MFL teaching, and the dedication of my teachers really showed when I travelled to Madrid, and as the only Spanish speaker in the family, I was often tasked with buying the tickets and
generally getting us around Madrid when on holiday.
I was buying our tickets to visit the Palacio Real and the man in the ticket booth asked if I had learnt Spanish in university in Spain, and was shocked when I replied that I had just learnt it in school in England!
About The Author: Daisy is an Olea Ambassador (Team 1.0, March - Sept 2023) and an undergraduate student of BA Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge.