We are confident that you will find learning Spanish at Magdalen College School an intellectually stimulating, personally challenging and joyful experience. We believe that our passion for our culture and language is powerfully transmitted to our pupils who find their time with us incredibly productive and fruitful.
We aim to maximise the love of Spanish language and culture through a nurturing and caring atmosphere where every pupil matters. Nothing gives the Department more satisfaction than the statement frequently heard years after pupils leave: “Sra., I use Spanish every day and I love it more every day!”
By the end of your learning time with us you will be a fluent speaker of Spanish, a skill that will maximise your employment opportunities and will open the doors in international banking, law or medicine, and engineering, the Foreign Office, the Civil Service, may be even the secret services or development work in Latin America. Or you will travel and enjoy time deepening your understanding of the new countries and cultures you will visit as Spanish is the second most spoken language, Mandarin being the first. A wonderful experience in MCS is sharing with pupils our enthusiasm for literature, history and art, and reading or watching films in the original expression of some of the truly great works of world culture.
Maybe you already know some Spanish words, such as aficionado, bodega, fiesta, patio, plaza, piñata, pueblo, rumba, armada, conquistador, flotilla, guerrilla, chorizo, daiquiri or vanilla.
Pupils who choose to learn Spanish in years 9-11 sign up for an exciting IGCSE course that will lead to an oral exam in which they will feel able and more than ready to conduct a conversation in the language for 10 minutes. They will learn how to talk confidently about everyday experiences and to navigate the modern world of health and fitness, healthy eating, plans for the future, family life, the use of technology, natural disasters and their impact in the environment, school and how they would change it, holidays and experiences with friends. They will build up an extensive and practical vocabulary, but they will also have opportunities to explore more arcane and unusual topics, such as: why every day a saint is recorded in the calendar, why Spaniards celebrate Holy Week dressing up as scary penitents, why Cola Cao is 100 times better than Nesquik, that going out until 5 am is normal or that we eat grapes at the stroke of midnight on the 31st of December. Everything that you cannot find in textbooks!
Refer to the Lower and Middle School Curriculum Guide for a more detailed breakdown of how Spanish is taught at MCS (published Michaelmas 2020).
To study Spanish in the Sixth Form at MCS is to embark on a fascinating if challenging two-year long Pre-U adventure that will test your determination, stamina, passion and resilience. At the end, you will be a fluent speaker, no question about that! The reason why pupils consistently achieve the highest results in the language is not simple: a combination of outstanding teaching and motivational research and study make for an exciting course, which produces confident speakers and writers. For example, you could find yourself working in the Chilean radio, a Buenos Aires newspaper or teaching in Bolivia, Perú or Costa Rica at the end of your further studies at university. You will have the chance to study and discuss innumerable aspects of modern society and culture as part of the Pre-U course. What is more, you will also be able to gain a deep understanding of some of the landmark works of Spanish literature and cinema. We study the most famous contemporary Spanish director: Pedro Almodóvar and the finest playwright and poet: Federico García Lorca as through their eyes you will know what Spain and its people are all about.
Refer to the Sixth Form Curriculum guide for a more detailed breakdown of the A-Level Spanish programme.
If you are thinking about studying Spanish in the Sixth Form at MCS, you might want to start reading around the subject before you join. Our Study Preparation guides are a useful tool, detailing further reading around key topics.
“To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world”Chinese proverb
The MCS Spanish Department has a reputation for bringing the country and the language alive with the use of everything that Oxford and London have to offer and the presence of lecturers who come to share their passion for particulars areas of expertise with us. A particularly poignant one is the lecture on the Civil War and the Oxfordshire International Brigadists who fought in Spain from 1936-39. If you choose to study the language here, you might join us on a trip to Madrid to soak up the language and enjoy this most cosmopolitan of cities. You can enter creative writing and translation competitions and the Linguistic Olympiad in collaboration with other departments. One of the most fascinating uses of your linguistic talent could be choosing to write your Waynflete Project on a Hispanic related topic or researching a Spanish history topic for your final oral exam.
Spanish is an excellent subject to combine with many others at university and employers will consider it a bonus in any application. As a Sixth Form subject, it fits naturally with almost every combination of subjects, including another foreign language, English and History for their common writing and argumentative skills, and History or Politics for the doors it opens at university in degrees like International Relations, Politics or PPE. Perhaps surprisingly, a combination of sciences and Spanish is seen by Medicine tutors as excellent proof of your ability to manage your time and be ready to communicate with your patients confidently and empathetically.
Pupils from MCS go on to achieve great things with Spanish, achieving excellent results at the end of the Sixth Form and going on to further study at universities such as Edinburgh, St Andrews, Durham, and Exeter. One of the chief attractions of studying a foreign language at degree-level is the opportunity to live abroad for a year, perhaps teaching, studying, or doing an internship.
MCS linguists might then choose a career in media, finance, law, advertising, research, teaching, engineering, or intelligence work. Some have even run the Madrid marathon! A bit like learning a language: set your sights on the prize at the end and keep going, one never stops being a learner!