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Languages and Culture Create Global Citizens

By | September 13, 2017

Woodford House prides itself on placing high value on the learning of a second language. Through the study of other languages and cultures, we sow the seeds of international understanding and tolerance, hence playing a vital role in creating a harmonious future for all.


Our staff have been receiving professional development to implement programmes that support the development of global citizenship skills and allow students to communicate collaboratively in cross-cultural contexts.

Within the Languages Department, our goal is for our young women to leave Woodford House fluent and confident in speaking their second language, ready to live and work comfortably in intercultural situations and to contribute positively as citizens of a global community, showing sensitivity to, and empathy with, the needs and values of others. The following highlights show how Woodford House is expanding horizons and supporting girls to communicate across borders in today’s world.

The Alliance Française French Film Festival

Earlier this year, senior students of French attended the Alliance Française French Film Festival to see the documentary-drama Odyssey, which featured the inspirational life of the French undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. One of the most satisfying aspects of learning a second language is being able to access the literature, culture and history of a country directly. It is extremely enriching to immerse oneself in a new and foreign world, perceiving it through the lens of a trail-blazer such as Cousteau, whose energy and passion provided the initial spark to focus the world’s attention on the need to protect marine environments.

Workshop inspires music, poetry and dance

Year 11 Spanish students attended a workshop and concert at Lindisfarne College in April to listen to a singer-composer from Panama, Rómulo Castro Garcia. Lecturers from the Spanish Department at Massey University also led discussion about the political and social development of Panama, the poetry of the lyrics and gave a lesson in salsa dancing. The workshop also sensitised students to the issues of immigration and peaceful co-existence. It was a privilege for our students to be part of this event. This is an example of how the knowledge of a second language provides the key to unlocking the riches of music, poetry and dance in another culture.

ih_sept17_Rómulo Castro

Spanish lyrics and Latino rhythms

This year, a nationwide event was organised by the University of Canterbury for students of Spanish to learn to sing and follow a set choreography to a popular song by Latin American singer Chayanne, called Madre Tierra. Dance and music bridge the cultural divide and allow the girls to have fun, while at the same time learning lyrics in Spanish and becoming familiar with Latino rhythms and pop stars.

ih_sept17_madres padre

Global gastronomy

Through learning a second language, girls discover culinary delights from other cultures and are given the opportunity to learn how to make them.

In Term 2, the Year 10 Spanish class followed a recipe in Spanish to make a very tasty paella for the Festival of Cultures. The girls recognised the ingredients and followed the instructions to make this delicious dish, which is iconic in the Spanish culture.

ih_sept_Yr 10 Spa Paella 2017

ih_sept17_Yr 10 Spa Deliciosa 2017

Language students also learn how to order food and drink in a restaurant and to appreciate traditional dishes.  The Year 10 Spanish class had a very enjoyable lunch at Deliciosa restaurant recently where they tried traditional tapas. Through these experiences, the girls learn to understand cultural traditions and values.

Prize winning presentations

Woodford House excels at coaching students in public speaking and girls are able to build on these skills in French and Spanish language classes where they focus on how to give a spoken presentation in front of an audience.

In June, Year 10 Spanish students pitted their skills against Napier Girls’, Napier Boys’, Hastings Girls’ and Taradale High School in the NZALT Year 10 speech competition. Ella Ruddle gained second prize in the Spanish division.

ih_sept17_Ella Yr 10 Spa Speech Comp 2017

Digitally connected

In second language classes, girls use technology as a tool for communication beyond the classroom where they can converse directly with speakers of other languages. Year 11 French students used Skype last year to talk with other Year 11 French students from Sancta Maria College in Auckland.  Recently, Year 10 and 11 Spanish classes made videos introducing themselves to students in a Mexican High School and are currently awaiting their videos in return.

Students regularly access podcasts, live newsfeeds and YouTube clips, which allow them to enter the French and Spanish speaking worlds without the barriers which inhibited learning in previous decades. Google Earth and virtual panoramic tours enable students to visit famous heritage buildings, marvel at architecture and view art, as well as appreciate landscapes and cityscapes from the countries they are studying.

European qualifications

To facilitate success in obtaining work overseas, senior French students have the opportunity to sit the French government language proficiency examinations known as the DELF (Diplôme d’Études de Langue Française).  Last year was the first time our students entered these examinations and we were very pleased with 100 per cent success rate at A1 and A2 of the European Framework of Languages. This portable qualification is recognised throughout Europe and Woodford House will continue to offer it in the future to support students as they seek to compete on the global stage.

Travelling the world

The pinnacle of learning a second language is to travel and experience a country’s culture first-hand. Staying with host families, attending school and living and breathing in a totally different environment enriches cultural experience and knowledge.

ih_sept17_Sophie Mt St Michel 2017

Sophie Svenson, Mont Saint Michel, France in January 2017.

ih_sept17_Bella Louvre 2017

Bella Christie visits the Louvre, Paris in December 2016.

ih_sept17_Olivia Tour Eiffel 2017

Olivia Lee and her host sister Lucie Laprerie in Paris in December 2016.

In December 2016, three Year 12 French students travelled to Nantes, France and attended school for two months, while living with French host families. They experienced a traditional French Christmas and New Year, travelled from Paris to Toulouse and Strasbourg and gained enormously in terms of their own personal development, resilience, maturity and language.  The girls returned much wiser and more independent. Having had the benefit of seeing life from another perspective, they commented on how much more they appreciate their own country and education system. The girls have made strong friendships, which will endure the test of time.

Sue Pommarède, HOD Languages