At St John's Beaumont, we offer our students the opportunity to study foreign languages - including French and Latin.
At St John’s, we understand that the ability to speak both French and English represents a real career asset, with the many multicultural companies using French as their working language.
But more importantly, we firmly believe that the opportunity to learn and speak a different language and discovering another culture, is essential in preparing our children to live in a multicultural and globalised world.
At St John’s the boys start learning French from Berchmans (Year 2) and the aims of the French department through the school are:
To create a positive attitude towards the subject, and allow students to feel confident and nurtured when speaking a second language.
To create opportunities to be immersed in the language during lessons but also via cultural trips.
To give students confidence that will allow success in the many different examinations the children may undertake during their time at St John’s and subsequently.
Boys receive weekly French lessons and study many topics linked to their direct environment including:
Importantly, the younger students (Years 2 to 5) are taught French via storytelling and songs, and are encouraged to express themselves in French from the very beginning. For instance, students have been able to discover “The Gruffalo” or “Peter and the Wolf” in the French language. We feel that from a very young age, French should be seen as a valuable and enjoyable subject where children are able to be completely immersed in the culture creating a real base for future learning.
For the older students the topics include those which are part of the Common Entrance 13+ examination for French and all four skills are being developed weekly: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking during the lessons. In Year 7 the boys enjoy a 5 day trip to Normandy to consolidate their oral and aural French skills whilst enjoying some traditional French activities.
The French department is proud to see that many of our scholars are achieving high results in their second language.
The thoughts and passions of the ancient world resonate with us still. Cicero’s wry observation makes us smile now as surely it did in the 1st Century BC.
Latin is a mirror in which we see ourselves and two thousand years of cultural tradition reflected. It is the chance to converse, as Professor Mary Beard has observed, with the thoughts and passions of the dead. Far from being dead, Latin itself lives and breathes, embedded in Romance languages, English, and impacting Western art and culture. Its influence on literature, philosophy, law and religion is substantial.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.- Aristotle
Our aim at St John’s is to fire the imagination and prepare students for a lifetime of engagement and curiosity. Our hope is that the boys to whom we introduce Latin will progress with the subject to senior school and beyond. The ability to read the thoughts of others, so different and yet so strangely familiar, despite the passage of millennia, is a wonderful gift to bestow upon a young mind.
Vitanda est improba siren desidia (One must avoid that wicked temptress, Laziness.) - Horace
Latin and Classics are taught at St John’s from Year 5. Boys are first introduced to basic grammatical concepts in English and Latin, as well as a healthy dose of Greek mythology. Students begin the Common Entrance syllabus in Year 6, for which the department has created its own in-house Latin Workbooks. It also makes use of the new ISEB Latin textbooks. Later, Greek is offered as an option to those who would like to sample another Classical language. Scholars are given additional support as required. Boys have gained high grades to the leading senior independent schools, including Eton, Winchester and St Paul’s.
Boys learn about aspects of Roman life and history. They are introduced to key stories in Greek mythology. Connections are made between these and subsequent European history and culture. Whilst the primary aim is to build speed and accuracy in translation, what drives us is the desire to help students come to love knowledge for its own sake, to appreciate difference, and to understand better the evolution of Western thought.
Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem (As long as we are among humans, let us be humane.) - Seneca
We use digital tools for learning, including OneNote and Surface 3 tablets for collaborative working, Plickers for instant testing and feedback, and Minecraft for recreating ancient towns. Our approach combines cutting edge technology with established scholarship. We run a popular Classics club, The Dry Symposium, and engage in cross-curricular projects. Trips have included St Albans, Fishbourne Palace, and Rome.