Opportunity just in: German Exchange

I received an email last week from a teacher in Stuttgart and her son. They are looking to host a private exchange between her son, Elias, aged 13 (born July 2001) and someone from North Berwick High School.

Elias Sautter – German Private Exchange

We have a lot of private exchanges that run throughout the school and they offer the chance for a real, authentic cultural and linguistic learning experience for both exchange partners. I would thoroughly recommend participating in an exchange for many reasons, not least of which is that it is a wonderful chance to grow as a person, to deeply appreciate others’ points of view and to see a new part of the world from a different perspective.

Please note that all private exchanges are run outwith the auspices of East Lothian Council policy and procedure checks. Parents and Carers are solely responsible for all aspects of any exchange.

If you would like to get in touch with Elias and Mrs Sautter, or if you have any questions about this, please see Miss Ritchie for contact details (which I have obscured from their letter to protect their privacy).

Miss R

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Want to be part of the amazing Spanish Exchange??

Well, exciting times ahead guys! We have settled the dates when our Spanish exchange partners will be visiting North Berwick (21st- 26th March 2015) and now is the time for you to sign up with Miss Smith if you would like to be part of this fantastic trip.

As always, our Spanish friends come to us first. Shy about hosting? Don’t be! Read what Eliza Thomson and Brenna Stewart had to say about their hosting experience:

Spanish Exchange Hosting

Also, for the return journey after summer, you can expect to look good in some sunny photos and….(warning!)….experience the bittersweet feeling of having to say goodbye to people who have become great mates:

NBHS Pupils Leaving Badajoz

So, get your skates on! First come, first served. Names to Miss Smith please :)


Miss R


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NBHS Pupils at CD Badajoz match

Well, we’ve been away for barely 3 days and we’ve already hit the headlines!

Here, in Spanish of course, is a news article from the football club, CD Badajoz, website:

CD Badajoz


Miss R

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German learners of all ages!

Hi there,

The Goethe Institut sent me an email about a computer game they have developed:

The Mystery of Nebra

Having an exciting adventure, solving a puzzling mystery, and learning German all at once: “Adventure German – The Mystery of Nebra” offers all this. Players set off with art expert Vincent Mirano on an exciting trip through Germany. They wish to find out whether the 4000-year old Nebra Sky Disc has been stolen. Might even a forgery of the oldest-known depiction of the heavens in the world be on display in the museum? And if so, where is the original?

Adventure German – The Mystery of Nebra by the Goethe-Institut is available for free as

Have fun and let me know how you get on!
Miss R

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Welcome back!

Hi everyone!

I hope you had a great holiday and are feeling really refreshed and looking forward to the new school year!

Just to let you know that, for this session, Language Drop-In sessions will be help on Wednesday lunchtimes in the Modern Languages Department. These are for ALL levels. Your resident experts are:

French – Miss Smith and Mrs Gordon

Spanish – Mrs Higginbottom

German – Miss Ritchie

Some of these names are new to you at present, but that won’t last long and I know you’ll make our new teachers feel really welcome :)

So, please, never be stuck, never wonder about a point that you couldn’t ask about in class. Just rouse us from our coffee break and we’ll be delighted to help!

See you soon!

Miss R

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Revision sessions after Easter

Calling all Spanish and French pupils!

Miss Gairdner and Mrs Zulaica are very kindly offering revision sessions in Spanish and French from 4pm on Mondays after school. These revision sessions will start after the Easter break and will be on offer until the end of the language exams.

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National 5 Oral Exams

By the middle of March, all candidates to be presented for National 5 French and Spanish will be required to sit an Oral Exam. This exam is moderated by the SQA, so we record it. In the International Education Faculty, we fully understand how nerve-wracking this can be, so we make all of our support materials available on the Modern Languages Blog, which can be accessed under International Education in the Faculties drop-down menu at the top of this page, or by following this link: NBHS website. Rest assured, we have had many pupils sit such Oral Exams in the past and we have not lost one yet!

The format of the exam:

Part 1 – a presentation for ca. 1.5 minutes on a topic of your choice (the topic of Education is generally a very good option as pupils have so much to talk about here and there is a wealth of resources)

Part 2 – a natural conversation with the teacher lasting up to 5 minutes. During this conversation, pupils should indicate to the teacher which topics they would like to talk about and they should prepare to answer questions on their topics. For example, if a pupil wanted to talk about the topic of Home Town, they could expect questions such as “Do you like where you live and why?”, “What is there for young people to do where you live?”, “Are there any disadvantages to your town?”

How to prepare for the Oral Exam:

Firstly, and most importantly, pupils should identify the resources that will most help them. These could be previous essays that they have written in their jotters, course vocab booklets available on the blog (Metro Rouge Vocabulary for S4 French, Listos 3 vocab pack for S4 Spanish), vocab sheets from the Intermediate section of linguascope.com, etc.

Secondly, pupils should use these resources to write their presentation, and to identify AND ANSWER questions that they would like to discuss in the conversation part of the exam. Remember, the conversation part should last around 5 minutes, so the more material you prepare, the better! It is also very good practice to time yourself so that you have an idea of how much to prepare.

Thirdly, you should practise this as much as you can. Your presentation can be memorised, and you are allowed some notes for this (5 headings of 8 words). In the real world, you would have notes to support a presentation too.

On the Modern Languages blog there are booklets, produced by Miss Gairdner and Mrs Zulaica, to support you with your preparation for the oral exam (Nat 5 French Oral booklet and Nat 5 Spanish Oral booklet). Please download these and use them. They are full of helpful advice on preparing for, and learning, your oral exam work.

When you have your exam time and date, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are well-prepared to do your best, and that you attend on time. If you are absent, you must provide a doctor’s note to support this, as the Oral Exam is an SQA exam – your date and time should be treated just as you would treat a final exam in May. The exam is an integral part of the course, it is not optional, nor can it be rescheduled unless you have proof of why you were absent.

Do not forget that we are here to support you – you can come to practise with any of the modern language teachers during the Wednesday lunchtime drop-in session, or at other times by arrangement.

Do your best and good luck!

Miss Ritchie

(PS) The above advice is equally valid for Higher language students too!

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NEW RESOURCES…online…for you!

Hi there,

Just a quick heads-up to all the promising young linguists out there (and I teach many of you – you know who you are!!)…

I have just posted some new links that are fabulous resources for language creation and language learning.

For language creation:
Leo Dictionary – an online dictionary devoted to German. Pick the work you want from its context, or use this tool to rapidly check the gender of a word (and, yes, please, please, do check!)

Word Reference -just as good as the one above, but with a wider selection of languages (French and Spanish learners, this is an excellent resource for you, but remember to check the context of the word you choose before you use it)

Linguee – many thanks to Jack Poole for this little gem. If I had been able to access this when I was translating I could have done my work in half the time! This tool shows the word that you are looking for in context (yes, there’s that word again!). Try it and see, it’s fab!

For language learning:

The French learners are in for a real treat with TV5 Monde – use this to read and listen to authentic news broadcasts. You can answer questions and do further work on the texts based on your own level of study. For teachers, explore the part under “Langue Francaise” in the top bar drop-down menu…

And, Euronews – a news channel that allows you to access current affairs in whichever language you choose (language option is at the top of the page). Also thanks to Jack for this one!

If anyone else has to tips – either useful websites for language learning, videos to help learn verbs, funnies about language (for the Just For Fun section), please let us know! I’d love to post more of your stuff and get more people using this blog – there is such a wealth of quality information on here for you!

Language is AMAZING :)
Miss R


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S4 Prelims…what to do

As we approach the S4 diet of prelims in January, here are some hints and tips to help you with your revision for National 5 French and Spanish.

Your Exam Papers

You will sit 2 papers – one Reading and Writing paper that lasts 1h30mins. You will respond – in English – to questions on 3 reading texts. You will then be asked to write a 120-150 word letter of application for a job. You have been preparing this in class and youe must LEARN IT BY HEART. This is called a “supported writing”, where you can anticipate most of the letter but you will have to respond to two bullet points that are unknown. DO NOT PANIC! Trust yourself – you know how to answer these questions because you have been doing this in class.

Your second paper is a straightforward listening paper that lasts around 20 – 25 mins. You will hear the text three times and you must write your answers in English.

Your revision 

Your revision can call on the following resources:

– linguascope and other resources on the modern languages blog (under blogroll). See your teacher for the password (it has just changed and, contractually, we can’t publish – or even allude to it – it here!)

– Metro Rouge vocab pack (stored in this blog under “S3 French”) for French

– or, for Spanish, the Listos 3 vocab pack (stored in this blog under “S4 Spanish”)

– the SQA website, where you can access a specimen Reading/Writing and Listening paper plus the audio file. These can be found here: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47415.html

– “How to Pass National 5 French”, by Douglas Angus, published by Hodder Gibson

– “SQA Specimen Question Papers with Answers”, published by Hodder Gibson and available in French and Spanish.

– you can log on to Bright Red Books for free to gain access to their study resources : http://www.brightredbooks.net/Account/logon

In order to practise listening, please click on “BBC Ma France” in the blogroll list. You will find a selection of 24 topics, each of which contains three videos with subtitles and transcripts in French and English. Get your parents to think up questions based on the English transcript, then listen out for the answers. Or ask them to blank words out of the French transcript and see if you can listen in closely to find the missing words. You can check your answers any time by turning on the subtitles!

– Please also remember that we have a drop-in session every Wednesday lunchtime in ML2 for French and Spanish. Use this opportunity! We can help you to learn better!

Above all, good luck for the prelims!

Miss Ritchie

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St Andrew’s Day – S1 Famous Scot Quiz

1G1 have compiled a quiz for you to try. Challenge your French – and your general knowledge! – and see if you can identify these famous Scots!

1G1 Famous Scot Quiz

Bonne Chance!
Miss R

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