Modern Foreign Languages
Why study a language?
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
At Caterham we believe that the ability to communicate in a foreign language has many advantages beyond its obvious practical uses. Language is what allows us to form relationships and it is this that is quickly becoming an increasingly precious commodity both in the world of work and in our everyday lives.
About the staff / department
Our department consists of a strong team of passionate linguists whose enthusiasm for languages is their main asset in the classroom. Between us we can offer a variety of specialities covering literature, linguistics, translation, history of language, slang, culture, politics and art which all mesh together in order to offer our pupils the broadest and most unique experience of language learning possible. The team has been led by Simon Bird since 2008. The Faculty has introduced many new innovative and creative elements to the curriculum which have transformed the way our pupils progress through the language learning process. We now have our own MFL website (mflcaterham.co.uk) where our pupils can find vocabulary games, keep up to date with what's going on in the department and locate useful information pertaining to their course, as well as extra reading material, videos or audio files for those who wish to extend their language skills independently. Whether the students are working in our state of the art language lab during lessons or studying at home they always have access to this website for lots of support and guidance in their language studies.
About the courses
At Caterham we offer a unique flexibility to our pupils whereby they can study almost any combination of the languages on offer, facilitated by the fact that beginners courses (including Italian) can now be started at the beginning of the Third Year (Year 9). We always supplement our language lessons with cultural enrichment which allows our pupils to place the language in its cultural context.
What fun stuff have we done?
Outside of the classroom, MFL appears in many aspects of general school life. MFL Week 2011 was a huge success and involved the entire school in a great variety of exciting events such as the Pétanque tournament, karaoke hour, international football league and the legendary MFL week theme tune and music video. There are also many events that are ongoing throughout the year such as the French Society gatherings, Euro club and, of course, the many trips that take place at different stages of the school year. Our most recent Second Year project where they produced their own video tutorials is just another example of the innovation and variety we offer. A primary school project is on the horizon and we will be hoping to reintroduce language evening classes in Chinese, Russian and Arabic in the near future.
In 2012 the Department received a Good School Guide Award:
Girls taking German at AS level at an English Independent School
This Department consists of several experienced graduates, who all teach more than one language.
Simon Bird MA - Head of Modern Foreign Languages Head of German
A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Simon started at Caterham in September 2009 as Head of the Modern Foreign Languages Faculty and teaches both Junior and Senior School French and German. He was previously Head of German at Canford School and was at Trinity School, Croydon before that. Simon is responsible for the running of the evening classes in several languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian. He also runs the MFL website society and the U13B rugby team.
Nicole McVitty DEUG, Licence d'Anglais, Head of French
After graduating from the Université de Provence (France) in Modern Languages, Nicole gained her PGCE at Saint Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham. She has taught French, Latin, German and Spanish at her previous schools and teaches French to A2 level and Spanish to KS3. Within the department, she runs the French Sixth Form Social club and organises the Third and Fourth Year trip to the South of France. Outside the department, Nicole is Assistant Head of Sixth Form. When she is not at school, she enjoys travelling and skiing as well as spending time with her family.
Catherine Clifton BA (Hons)
Catherine is a BA Hons graduate in French and German (University of London). She has been on the Caterham staff for a number of years, having previously taught in two other independent schools. Currently she is teaching French and German to A2 level and Spanish to First and Second Years (Years 7 and 8). She is particularly interested in contemporary and late 20th century French and German literature and cinema, and enjoys taking pupils abroad on study visits and homestays. She runs a thriving junior French club one lunchtime a week and is a middle school tutor - "a role I very much enjoy."
Kim Wells, Director of Learning and Teaching
Kim graduated from Cambridge University with an MA in French and German but joined a bank and then a management consultancy before settling upon a career in teaching. He joined Caterham in September 2004 having taught previously at Kingston Grammar and Sutton High School. When he is not teaching French to A level or German to GCSE Kim is the Director of Learning and Teaching here at Caterham. He lists his hobbies as golf, hockey, travel, and following the misfortunes of Tottenham Hotspur.
Neil Parker MSc Head of Spanish
Neil studied Spanish at Durham University and European Politics at Cardiff University. He has taught at Christ College, Brecon and Monmouth School. Neil coaches the U14 B rugby team and helps out with Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. He also teaches Italian and French.
Sophie Carpenter BA (Oxon)
Grew up on the Sussex coast in Littlehampton and attended Christ's Hospital School in Horsham. Studied Classics and Modern Languages at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating in 2004. Spent a year living in Salzburg, Austria, working as an English assistant in two schools. Moved to Bristol to undertake a PGCE at Bath University. A keen netball player and umpire and who enjoys playing badminton.
Carlos Garcia BA (Hons) Teacher of Spanish
Carlos graduated from the University of A Coruña as a Primary School Teacher. After setting in England he worked as a Spanish Assistant in Croydon High School for two years while studying for an English and Spanish degree with the Open University. He undertook his PGCE at Kingston University and currently teaches Spanish to A Level and French to KS3. His interests include travelling, politics and gastronomy.
Catherine Jackson BA (Hons)
Catherine studied Spanish and French at Pembroke College, Oxford and graduated in 2006. She worked for a financial spread-betting company in London for three years dealing with Spanish and French clients before completing her PGCE at King's College London in 2010. Catherine teaches Spanish up to A-Level and lower school French. As a qualified gymnastics coach, she will also be running the junior gymnastics club.
Mrs Julia Laverick BEd (Hons) (Cantab) – Teacher of French and German
A Cambridge University graduate with a BEd (Hons) degree who teaches French to A level and junior German. She takes regular trips abroad with all age groups. Her specialist interests are foreign travel, French cinema and 17th century French literature.