At Heathfield we aim primarily to facilitate meaningful language use by giving our students the opportunity to practise and improve their spoken English and develop their listening skills. In lessons, activities and on trips girls interact with other international students and staff. We want all our students to enjoy themselves making friends, including with our summer campers, and to grow in confidence as speakers of English.
Course planning takes into account both the immediate and long-term needs of our students.
Classes consist of girls of a similar age and language proficiency level (graded according to the Common European Framework of Reference) with a maximum of 16 girls per class. Groups are formed with a mix of different ‘mother tongue’ speakers so as to create a communicative gap, which is bridged by English.
In groups with a lower level of proficiency (CEF levels A1-A2) the girls work on spoken survival language, for example classroom expressions, asking for help and giving simple information. They also learn about using money and counting, getting around the school, talking (and asking) about the school rules and giving personal information.
Girls at this level will also spend time working on understanding simple written notices and writing about their day in their course diary. Written activities will be structured and guided by the teacher.
Higher up the scale (CEF levels B1-B2), the girls work on expanding their spoken English beyond the simple question-and-answer level and begin initiating and maintaining longer exchanges. The girls practise giving opinions in different situations, using simple, and some more complex sentence structures. At these levels, more adventurous diary entries are also encouraged.
Students who are more advanced (CEF levels C1-C2) will get practice in managing their discourse, expanding their vocabulary and speaking with a good degree of fluency in a variety of contexts. This includes looking at other subjects such as science or literature through the medium of English, known as Content and Language Integrated Learning. Girls at these levels are given opportunities to express their opinions on a wide range of topics, often generated by newspaper or magazine articles, short stories or other informative texts.
In their diaries, these girls are helped to convey more complex ideas clearly using a wider range of lexis and increasingly more complex sentence structures.