Rachel Hawkes


Cambridge University Language Learning Programme

The CULP programme is well-established at CVC and in July 2006 it won the prestigious European Award for Languages.  In addition to Mandarin, we offer the programme in German and French in Y9, as an opportunity for students to study a 3rd language during KS3. Our learners begin with Spanish in Y7 and then take up either German or French, depending on which half of the year they are in. The CULP programme offers them the chance to pick up the 3rd language that they will not study during curriculum time.

The course structure is a mixture of twilight sessions and 3 half-days spread throughout year 9.  Mandarin learners attend for a 2-hour twilight every fortnight and French and German learners have a weekly one-hour lesson.

Participants receive tuition as well as access to tailor-made on-line practice and extension material available from home or school.  Y8 students receive information about the CULP languages programme during the summer term and apply to do the course during Year 9. (Mandarin letter - French letter - German letter)

For Mandarin we have a teacher from the Cambridge University Language Centre, but for French and German we use our own teachers. They do the twilight sessions as part of their teaching allocation.

At the end of the course, in French and German students are entered for Listening and Reading at ASSET Preliminary level (with the French group also taking Preliminary writing), a challenge given their limited exposure to the language over a short period of one academic year. In Mandarin students take Breakthrough Listening and Reading.

The ambitious strategy of entering the French and German groups for Preliminary level (and Mandarin for Breakthrough) does seem overall to be the right one, as does the pattern of regular weekly sessions and occasional intensive days.