Modern Languages

The Modern Languages Department seeks to develop the potential of all of its pupils with reference to the following:

  • From a practical perspective, to develop the ability to use one or more modern foreign languages to communicate effectively.
  • From a cultural perspective, to develop an appreciation of the foreign language and its associated culture(s).
  • From an intellectual perspective, to enable pupils to gain not only awareness of language but wider skills such as language learning skills, analysis and memory.
  • From a motivational perspective, to employ methods and resources which enable pupils both to enjoy and value what they are learning.

French, German and Spanish are offered to GCSE and A level. The department also offers taster courses in Mandarin Chinese to various year groups at after school sessions as well as being part of the Sixth Form Enrichment programme. Pupils who take up this opportunity will therefore have had experience of learning four languages by the end of S5 (Year 11) and have a formal qualification in at least one. 


All pupils take French in S1 (Year 7) and in S2 (Year 8) where they will additionally study half a year each of German and Spanish. Pupils may choose to study one or two languages in S3 (Year 9). If they choose to study two languages, one must be French.

The development of language learning skills is also encouraged through a joint project called What’s in a Word, which has been developed in language awareness with the Classics Department.

At the beginning of S1 (Year 7) pupils are taught in mixed-ability groups, apart from those who have done no French before. The latter are placed in the beginners’ group so they can be taught at an appropriate pace. We find that those with an aptitude for language quickly make up ground and, in November, all pupils are tested and setted according to their ability and progress. In S3 (Year 9), some setting usually continues in French although German and Spanish are generally taught in option groups.

The course books used in S1-S3 in all languages have been designed to ensure full coverage of the 2014 Key Stage 3 Programme of Study for Modern Foreign Languages and allow for a smooth progression to the GCSE examinations.

In keeping with the requirements of the GCSE examination, the courses provide a sound grammatical basis on which to build. In addition, with an increased emphasis on accurate pronunciation and the ability to use the foreign language more spontaneously, there are many opportunities throughout the KS3 courses to encourage the development of spontaneous speech in and out of the classroom.

The department offers two KS3 trips to Europe in alternating years: a Taste of France and Germany, based in Alsace and the Black Forest and a taster trip to Spain, usually to Cantabria. S1 and S2 (Years 7 & 8) also enjoy an annual theatre production in French, performed by native French actors from the Onatti Theatre Company.

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