Modern foreign languages

Head of department

Mrs C-L Harrison

Teaching staff

Mr T Higson
Mrs L Lyons
Mrs F Stevens
Mr Matthew Jones
Mrs D Stoker

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Modern foreign languages

Aims of the department:

  • to enthuse students to become proficient in French, German and Spanish
  • to grow in students an appreciation of other languages and cultures

We believe in a communicative approach, exposing students to maximum target language, supported by careful study and practice of grammar and vocabulary.  We aim to develop the skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing through a wide range of activities including:

  • class speaking work, pair work, group work, acting out dialogues
  • vocabulary learning
  • spoken and written grammar drills
  • listening to and watching recorded material and songs
  • other language games
  • dictation
  • using interactive online resources and
  • writing compositions
Our enthusiastic modern foreign languages teachers have lived all over the world, including France, Spain, Germany, Canada, South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Their love of languages and exploring other cultures is sure to inspire you. Hear what Mrs Harrison has to say in this video, below,, where she asks Year 7 students about their challenges and triumphs during their first year of studying French at RGS and discovers how they've grown in confidence in conversation

Summary of subject content:

Years 7 - 9 [KS3]

All students learn French, with four lessons a week in Years 7 - 9.  

In addition to French, Year 8 students begin to learn German and Spanish.  They then go on to study French plus either German or Spanish in Year 9.  We try to build links with our partner schools overseas and offer trips and exchanges to France, Germany and Spain.

Assessment takes the form of regular end of unit tests in listening, reading, speaking and writing, together with end of year examinations.  In 2019, 98.6% of students achieved grades 5-9 in French and 91% in 2020.

Years 10 - 11 [KS4/GCSE]

All students choose a language to study at GCSE level as part of their core curriculum, with the option of taking a second language as well.

GCSE Specifications:  French AQA 8657, German AQA 8668, Spanish AQA 8698

A large majority of students enter at higher tier.  All four skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking) are assessed in end-of-cuorse examinations, although the 2021 examinations have been adapted due to Covid-19.

The study of languages is declining at a time when linguists have never been more in demand. 'Dare to be part of the precious commodity of linguists,' says Mrs Harrison. 'It's a qualification that makes you stand out from the crowd and shows a university or employer you have the skills to succeed in our 21st century world' 

Years 12 - 13 [Sixth Form/A Level]

French, German and Spanish are offered at A Level.  Students have two teachers for both French and Spanish, and one for German.  They study many fascinating topics around social, political and artistic culture.  Skills of communication, analysis, evaluation and debate are fully developed.

Students sit their A Level examinations at the end of Year 13.  Students study a novel or a plan, together with a film.  Students also undertake an Independent Research Project (IRP) on a topic of their choice, linked to a country where their target language is spoken.

Exam Specification: French AQA 7652, German AQA 7662, Spanish AQA 7692

Trips, special projects, extra-curricular clubs/activities

All students are encouraged to join the Second Year Normandy trip, which takes place (ordinarily) in the final week of the summer term.  This is a week spent at a rural chateau with educational visits to sites of interest (including the Bayeux Tapestry, the D-Day landing beaches and war cemeteries) and opportunities to speak French and learn about the culture of the region.  This is not only valuable from the linguistic point of view; it provides an excellent and fun opportunity for social development.

Since 1988 we have been running an exchange scheme for Fourth Year, Fifth Year and A level students with the Institution Saint Louis in Pont l'AbbĂ© d'Arnoult in south west France. This exchanges runs every other year.

Spanish pupils have been able to participate in trips to Madrid in the last few years, and in 2018 a new exchange programme was started with a school in Granada.  This is open to GCSE and A Level students  and runs every other year, in the opposite year to the French exchange.

Over the last few years there have been cultural trips to Berlin for students studying German.

The department was recently rehoused in the brand new classroom block, and uses five modern and well-equipped teaching rooms, provided with up-to-date interactive screens and computers. Pupils make regular use of the school ICT rooms in MFL lessons. The school library is well-stocked with books, dictionaries and DVDs, whilst satellite television is also available to students.

Additional information

Exam results

In 2019, two thirds of our students achieved grades 7, 8 or 9 at GCSE in a language, with some achieving high grades in two languages. In 2020, 90% of students gained 5 - 9 in French, German and Spanish, with 64% gaining 7 -9 in French.

We attract an unusually large number of students at A Level (we average about 30 A Level linguists) and in 2020 82% of these achieved A* - B grades.

Career opportunities

"Language is information, and information is power".   Constantin, Killing Eve

The outlook is very positive indeed for students who learn modern foreign languages. Britain is facing a deficit of linguists and many employers are seeking recruits with language skills.  Languages open doors to travel, study and work in endless places in the world or at home.  Employment rates for those with language degrees are amongst the very highest, with employers particularly welcoming graduates with good communication skills and those who can offer one or more modern foreign language.