MFL Study Day at Sheffield Hallam University

8th February 2024

On Wednesday 7th February our Year 11, 12 and 13 language students visited Sheffield Hallam University, to take part in an exciting Languages study day, hosted by the Association for Language Learning at the university. The day was centred around watching and studying a foreign film, being immersed in the language and participating in workshops with scholars from the university. 

Studying film is an exciting and enriching aspect of A-level Language courses and forms a key part of the final exam. Our students learn to appreciate foreign cinema by analysing themes, techniques, characters and even the films’ historical contexts. 

Our French students watched the documentary film ‘La Cour de Babel’ (2014), directed by Julie Bertuccelli. Prior to the film there was an introduction to the film’s sociocultural context. Later, there was a workshop discussing the film’s main themes, consolidating the key vocabulary that was used. Their day was led by Dr Isabelle Vanderschelden, a former Senior Lecturer in French cinema of Manchester Metropolitan and an established researcher in film studies. 

Spanish students were entertained with the comedic musical ‘Explota Explota’ (2020), directed by Nacho Álvarez. Before watching, students thoughtfully participated in a workshop discussing the historical and cultural context of the film, in particular Franco’s regime. In the afternoon the workshop reflected upon the main themes and the language used. Workshops were led by Dr Alicia Sanchez Requeña, Senior Lecturer in Spanish at Sheffield Hallam University.

German students were gripped by the Drama/Thriller ‘Ballon’ (2015) by Director Michael Herbig. Ballon tells the true story of two families who built a hot-air balloon in a cellar in Thuringia, a state in the German Democratic Republic, and succeeded in crossing the inner German border. After discussing the historical and cultural context of the film, students were very excited to participate in ‘Origami auf Deutsch’: to build their own balloon! Their workshops were led by Janine Turner, an experienced language teacher who frequently delivers INSET for the Goethe Institute.

Sofia, Year 12 A Level French student, shares her experience of the day: The film day was an enjoyable experience which allowed us all to improve our understanding and communication skills within French language. We watched a French film and discussed it based on themes and also characterisation which will greatly aid us in our French A Level studies when we study a film in Year 13.

Overall it was a fabulous day of language learning, allowing our current Year 12 and 13 linguists to consolidate their understanding of film study techniques and language. Similarly, we hope it inspired our Year 11 language students and encouraged them to continue studying languages at A-Level. 

Ms C Donau-Green 

Head of MFL


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