Learning to speak another’s language means taking one’s place in the human community. It means reaching out to others across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Language is far more than a system to be explained. It is our most important link to the world around us. Language is culture in motion. It is people interacting with people.

Savignon (1983)

Our Approach

We intend to promote positive attitudes to language learning and to speakers of foreign languages and their culture; encourage contacts abroad through visits and exchanges; and develop a European and international outlook in our pupils.

The department focuses on facilitating an understanding of the grammar and structure of the language(s) studied. We also aim to enable each pupil to achieve the best result of which he/she is capable in public examinations. We are committed to adapting our teaching to the needs of the individual and to varying our teaching methods both to interest and challenge pupils.

Syllabus and resources

The Modern Languages department offers a range of language courses, which can be divided in two groups.

Group 1—studies in language and literature

Group 2—language acquisition

Four main group 2 languages are taught at St Leonards: French, German, Spanish and Italian. Group 1 German, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin are also available on demand.

Many of the teachers in this large department teach a language that is their mother tongue. The School’s location in a town which attracts people from all over the world to its University, means that, where there is sufficient demand for a particular language, highly proficient teachers can be brought in to deliver it in most instances. 

The department follows a topic-based approach to work, incorporating structural and grammatical exercises, as they arise from the course materials. Homework is considered to be vital for preparing for future lessons, consolidating material already covered in class and developing independent work habits.

In Year 8, pupils receive language acquisition tuition in French, Spanish and German. They chose two out of the three to continue with into Year 9. In the February of Year 9, pupils can choose one language to focus on or continue with both for their GCSE options. At the end of their year 9, pupils have a chance to sit the DELF (A1) examinations, to gain an international recognition of their skills in French.

In Year 10, students must choose one language (French, German or Spanish) for iGCSE. Able pupils however are encouraged to choose two languages.

Pupils on the Pre-IB1 course can study language and literature in German, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian or another language (subject to availability). They follow the iGCSE syllabus with a view to taking the examination at the end of the Pre-IB year.

At IB level, all pupils must study a Group 2 language. Italian and Japanese ab initio is available for students who wish to begin the study of a new language. French, German and Spanish B are all offered and other languages at various levels may also be available on demand.


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