Modern Languages

At St Mary’s, learning Modern Foreign Languages is a vital and integral part of our broad and balanced curriculum. Whether it is seen as stimulating intellectual challenge, a way of developing social skills or a means of deepening understanding of other cultures, language enriches the experience of every student. We are proud of the exceptionally broad choice we offer our students - French, German and Spanish are all taught by specialists.

Years 7 and 8

On joining the school in Year 7, girls learn French in their form groups, quickly building basic vocabulary and an understanding of grammatical concepts. From Year 8 French is taught in sets so that each student develops at an appropriate pace. In Year 8 girls also choose a second foreign language, which may be German or Spanish. Both French and the second language are studied throughout Year 8.

Languages are for everyone who enjoys communicating with other people, finding out how language works and learning about different countries and cultures.

By studying languages, students will:

  • be able to share your interests, ideas and opinions with other people who speak the language
  • learn about countries where the language is spoken
  • add an international dimension to your choice of GCSE subjects, which is something many employers and higher education providers look for
  • learn many skills which are useful in a wide range of careers, such as communicating clearly, speaking confidently in public and using problem solving strategies
  • create greater opportunities to work abroad or for companies in the UK with international links. Many employers look for people with language skills


Years 9, 10 and 11: GCSE 

At the end of Year 8, all students must choose French or German or Spanish at GCSE, allowing three years to cover the GCSE syllabus in depth. For keen linguists, there is the opportunity to study two languages.

For more information about the current GCSE syllabus, please download the latest St Mary's GCSE Options Guide:

Clubs & Activities

St Mary’s has a lively programme of trips abroad to complement girls’ studies. Details vary from year to year, but in a typical year there might be visits to France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Language-related activities in school include foreign language films, visits from theatre companies and in International Week quizzes, competitions, food-tasting and dressing-up. We also offer Dutch conversation lessons to support our Year 8 exchange visit to the William of Orange School in the Netherlands and a taster course in Japanese for Year 9.


International School Award

At St Mary’s we are passionate about creating an international and global ethos throughout the school. We have held the International School Award since 2008 and endeavour to enrich the curriculum with activities that celebrate and embrace pupils’ own cultural identities as well as those of others. 

We believe in helping our students gain a global and local outlook by being well informed about the world we live in. We also hope that they feel a sense of commitment to justice, equality and sustainable development. Some of  our recent international activities are links with schools in Ghana, Germany, Spain and Holland, a nativity play in Spanish, Ghana Day, International Week and international cookery.


Head of Modern Languages Mrs Chrystelle Napolitano
German and French Mrs Helen Boud BA (Hons) PGCE
French and German Mrs Charlotte Chamberlain BA (Hons) PGCE
French Mrs Hilary Clayton-Grainger BA (Hons) PGCE
Spanish and French Mrs Elizabeth Holmes BA (Hons) PGCE

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