The Linguist

The Linguist 59,2 - April/May 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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16 The Linguist Vol/59 No/2 2020 FEATURES Miranda Moore finds out how one school has introduced an immersive Spanish programme across all subject areas I n a small computer room with Mexican- style artwork adorning the walls and Frida Kahlo-inspired cushions softening the benches, Lucy is talking about volunteering at a hispanic nursery while studying for her Spanish A-level. "I went every Saturday morning last term," says the 17-year-old student at Channing School in North London. "It was really cool to be able to practise speaking with people whose first language is Spanish and having that exposure to Latin America." Lucy, seven of her classmates and their Spanish teacher, Catriona Kyle, are gathered in the Latin American Diner, as the room is known, to tell me about the school's immersive Spanish-language programme. Clara talks about singing in Spanish with the choir at a hispanic-themed spring concert. Hannah speaks of a careers event which "broke down misconceptions about languages not being useful" by inviting linguists in varied professions to talk about their work. Lili mentions the "motivating" week-long residency of the Cervantes Theatre in the school's Arundel Centre. "Having them come to school shows that Channing is really passionate about the language," she says. The production of La Casa de Bernarda Alba, one of the texts on the A-level syllabus, attracted audiences from across Europe. From the decor in the room – created by Year 7 students as part of a project on Mexican folk art – to plaques with inspirational quotes in the corridors, the school's commitment to language learning is clear. And such details are not lost on its students. "The Adelante Strategy started a few years ago, and around the school you feel the influence everywhere – you feel how highly Spanish is appreciated here," says Julia, who is also in Year 12. To be precise, the Adelante Strategy was launched at Channing, an independent school for girls aged 4-18, in 2016. "I wanted something that would be a real feature of this school. Lots of schools teach Spanish, but I wanted us to have a real focus on it," explains Headmistress Barbara Elliott. The aim was not to become a bilingual school but "to make proficiency in Spanish a feature of a Channing education". That meant not only switching the main taught language from French to Spanish, but establishing a programme that would bring Spanish into all subject areas. "If the Art Department was looking at a trip to Madrid or Amsterdam, well, go to Madrid!" explains Elliott, a linguist herself, who studied French and Spanish at Cambridge. It was clear from the outset that Adelante – a key part of Channing's five-year strategic plan – would require leadership, and Kyle was appointed in 2017. "Because I have a member of my senior leadership team who is not only Director of Modern Languages but also Leader of the Adelante Strategy, the strategy is given the status and the funding it needs to go from strength to strength," says Elliott. Kyle is now working on the Adelante strand of the strategic plan for 2020-2025. From teaching to events management "One of the key things is that we have somebody on the senior team who is a linguist, who can raise the profile of languages and do it with real belief. Most members of senior teams do things related to the day-to- day running of the school, the timetable, the pastoral care. My role is unique," she says. "Time is really important. A large part of my job involves the organisation and coordination of Spanish-themed events, and a good amount of my time is spent trying to make connections with people and organisations whose missions are aligned with our own." Accommodation needs to be arranged for visiting authors, enrichment days need to be planned, and connections need to be made with potential speakers. Kyle is currently organising a day at the London Paella School with the Head of Year 7 and an immersive 'secret agent' experience based around Spanish translation for Year 8. "The success of the programme is down to a combination of ideas, time, relationships Moving Adelante CULTURAL SPACE Sixth-form hispanists in the Latin American Diner, with artwork by Year 7

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