Modern Foreign Languages

Most of the teachers in the MFL Department are native speakers in their primary subject. The Department also employs language assistants to help the girls outside normal lesson time, particularly with oral work.

French, German, Italian and Spanish

French is taught to all girls in Years 7 to 9, and is usually chosen as the one compulsory modern foreign language to be studied to GCSE. It is then an option at A Level.

German, Italian and Spanish may be sampled in Year 8, and girls may then choose one of these to study as their second European language through to Year 9. Bilingual pupils may be taught in a separate set, once their ability has been assessed. German, Italian and Spanish are all then available as options at GCSE and A Level.

In Years 7 to 9, pupils cover topics such as self, home and family, free time, school, future plans, and shopping. In doing so, they learn key linguistic concepts such as adjectives, pronouns, negatives, expressions of quantity, and regular and irregular verbs.

At GCSE, pupils follow the AQA course for French, German and Spanish, and the Edexcel course for Italian. They explore topics such as relationships, leisure, holidays, health and jobs, and in doing so learn new structures and tenses such as the conditional and pluperfect, as well as consolidating the work from earlier years. Where appropriate, able pupils may be entered for GCSE at the end of Year 10, and then continue their studies at a higher level in Year 11.

At A Level, pupils follow the AQA course for French, German and Spanish, and the Edexcel course for Italian. These courses cover a variety of contemporary topics such as social trends, artistic culture and political life. Pupils study two set texts, or one text and a film, and use a range of media for their individual research project which they present in their speaking examination.


Pupils in Year 8 may choose to do a taster course in Mandarin, and it is then available as a subject option in Year 9 and for GCSE. Pupils follow the Edexcel course.

Other modern foreign languages

Other languages may be available outside the timetable, according to need. We have in the past offered courses in Arabic, Modern Greek, Polish, Portuguese and Russian. These can also be taken through to GCSE.

Beyond the classroom

Year 8 go on a very popular trip to France for a week in the summer term, during which they visit a market, make their own bread, and explore places such as St-Malo and Mont Saint-Michel. The Modern Languages Film Society is run by the senior girls, and meets several times a term to watch and discuss films in the relaxed atmosphere of the Mary Ward Courtyard Common Room. Sixth Form girls enter the Festival de Théatre Francophone in London every year, as well as the French debating competition the Joutes Oratoires. In addition, there is a Russian Club which meets once a week in the summer term, and is designed to give girls an introduction to the Russian language.