English is at the heart of learning at The British School. All subjects (except foreign languages) are taught through the medium of English and English is the working language of the school, with students and staff being expected to speak English at all times. We have extremely high expectations of all our students and, on leaving school, students will have attained a very good level of both the spoken and written language.
At the end of Year 10, all students take IGCSE English as a Second Language and IGCSE First Language English. (For current Year 9 students only, IGCSE English as a Second Language will be taken at the end of Year 10, and IGCSE First Language English will be November of Year 11)
In addition, IGCSE English Literature is an optional subject to stretch and challenge the top creative minds. The current Literature syllabus is comprised of the following texts:
- 1) Poetry - Selected works of Carol Ann Duffy
- 2) Prose – ‘Jane Eyre’, by Charlotte Bronte/ ‘Life of Pi’, by Yann Martel
- 3) Drama – ‘Othello’, or ‘Romeo and Juliet’, by William Shakespeare
- 4) Unseen Poetry
Each year, a select group of students take AS and/or A2 Level English Literature, where they get to choose their own coursework topics and work on what fascinates them. Recent texts have included ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Ulysses’, and ‘Faustus’. All of the external exams taken in English are Cambridge International Examinations.
Although formal examinations are important, our purpose is to make the learning of English enjoyable, in order to encourage a passion for and mastery of language. Common features of all lessons are role-playing, interactive mobile quiz games, group work, discussions, hot-seating and debating. We have a well-stocked library, research laptops, and students are very much encouraged to make good use of these facilities. We take every opportunity to invite visiting speakers into the classroom, hold book fairs, and to take students to any relevant events being held in Alexandria or Cairo. In addition, students in the Senior School take part in international COBIS and BSME Debating Competitions and Model United Nations events, which gives our students the opportunity to practise their speaking and debating skills in a competitive, yet friendly, manner. We hold workshops at various points during the year both to inform parents about any developments and to advise them how best to support their children with English.
Values such as Perseverance, Intellectual Playfulness and Independence are all inherently important to the study of English, enabling natural ties to be made with High Performance Learning. In addition, skills such as Speed and Accuracy or Forming Alternative Perspectives are constantly challenged and developed in the English department; this is maintained through rigorous teaching, understanding of students’ needs, and highly effective verbal and written feedback. The English department pioneered the school-wide policy of Orange Pen Action for elevating the thinking of all abilities. Opening a two-way dialogue in their written feedback has enabled the stretching of students further than they would have gone before, and allows them to take responsibility for the actions they need to take in order to achieve their goal – an essential future life-skill.
In summary, English is an extremely important part of students’ lives at The British School, reflecting the importance and power of language in the world in which we live.