News and blog

Junior School Languages

Junior School Languages


At the end of the Autumn term we paid tribute to Mrs Huang for her hard work and dedication, over many years, as our inaugural Mandarin teacher, and we welcomed Ms Ariel Skillings to our Junior School academic staff. 

Ms Skillings has a very creative approach to her teaching which the girls have responded very well to! 

Of her new position, Ms Skillings says: 

I love Mandarin. Not only is it my native language, but it is also, in itself, a piece of art. From the speaking to writing, reading to communicating. I always enjoy teaching Mandarin, with a passion to explore and unravel the authentic oriental culture and art through the language itself. 

Though I haven’t been at St Mary’s for long, it already feels like home, thanks to all my wonderful colleagues. There have already been so many fun highlights! I really appreciated when Mr O’Reilly introduced High Performance Learning to me, it has really opened my mind and has been beneficial to my teaching ever since.  

If I have to pick one highlight, it is working with the Junior School girls themselves. For example, when we did the Cherry Blossom painting for the Chinese New Year theme.

The girls across all year groups were amazingly talented in working on their watercolour paintings. We used different painting skills and methods tailored to their age range and I have seen quite a few outstanding pieces of artwork. The Chinese character that we were learning that day was Spring (春), the girls were able to write it and remembered its meaning very well.


In Spanish, pupils have been working hard with Mr Del to improve their language skills and have enjoyed partnering with a school in Madrid. Through Skype they saw a Flamenco demonstration, sang each other songs, and were able to put their Spanish skills into practice by asking each other questions about the weather.  

Our pupils also enjoyed a visit by a teacher from Spain earlier in the Spring Term. Mr Javier Molina wanted to get to know the Junior School’s teaching style, and his visit exceeded his expectations. In his words:

I’ve observed that girls are encouraged to think deeply through research, questioning and hands-on activities. Autonomy and responsibility are also fostered in many ways. [...] I really like the atmosphere of the school. I have witnessed a wide variety of activities such as play rehearsals, STEM lessons and the enhancement of autonomous learning.

Mr Molina also had the opportunity to enrich the Spanish lessons and the girls were very excited to practise their Spanish skills with him. As Mili L. in 5A explains: “While Mr Molina was visiting our school, I gained a few skills. In our Español lesson we did a competition to see which team was best at singing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish and we learnt a very simple method to dance Flamenco”. 

Return to Magnolian 2020