There are an astonishing four different parts to ameliorate when learning a language at GCSE: listening, reading, writing and speaking! Not only do you need to know buckets full of vocabulary, you also need to understand and recall several grammar points and perfect your pronunciation – it is a lot of hard work.

Languages are a very important part of our society as they allow us to communicate to everyone and anyone. Even if you do not speak the language fluently, google translate is always a helpful tool. It is free as well as efficient however it is not always 100% accurate…that is beside the point though. Languages help us in various different ways; from helping with trade deals in the world or just ordering at a restaurant when being abroad. No matter how useful they can be, they are extremely challenging to learn. With several different tenses and vocabulary, it can take a long while until you are fluent in a specific language.

At GCSE standard, in England, the regular choice of languages in schools is French, Spanish and German but recently there has been the introduction of Mandarin and Japanese. The majority of students take one, but some take two languages to learn.  On top of this, the school has to decide whether you learn the foundation tier or higher tier when choosing each language. There are several different parts of doing a language GCSE. The first part is speaking – this involves a general conversation with a fluent speaker of the language, a role play where you are given a scenario and you are meant to pretend to be in that situation and finally a photocard in which you have to describe what is going on in the picture. Next you have to complete a listening section in which you have to understand what the pre-recorded tape is about and answer the questions in both your specific language that you are learning as well as English. After, you complete a reading exam – it is a comprehension with multiple choice questions as well as written questions. The last part is where you have to write up to a word limit (for example, one question could be to write 90 words) based on the topics that are given to you. Each section accounts to 25% of your GCSE and they all get totalled together to come to your overall GCSE result.  

One of the benefits of learning a language at GCSE is that it improves your memory skills as it requires you to learn lots and lots of vocabulary and so it increases your brain empowerment. Further, studying multiple languages gives you a professional advantage in the future when trying to get jobs since it is seen to be very highly respected. Moreover, many schools organise school trips or exchanges to different countries to further your knowledge of the different cultures behind learning a language.

However, learning a language is an ongoing process until you are properly fluent and so you must be dedicated to want to learn it. Many people have busy schedules so learning something completely new can be a big challenge. In addition, at school you only get taught formal expressions that are required to be learnt but not being taught any daily expressions that would be used on a regular basis.

So, in conclusion, I believe it is beneficial to learn a language at GCSE since it enables you to experience foreign cultures and it improves memory proficiencies of the brain. 

Tia Bhatti