Modern Languages


In today’s society, it is impossible to overstate the importance of modern languages


From September 2016 all girls studying languages in the Senior School will be following the Pre-U qualification which has been adopted by many leading public schools in the last few years and is widely recognised by universities as a reliable measure of ability. The rationale of the Pre-U is that whilst the syllabus will continue to give a broad experience of a range of topics, ideas and current affairs in the culture of the language of choice, greater rigour is applied in terms of understanding the mechanics of the language and greater depth is sought in the cultural paper than was previously possible at A level.

Thus, of the four papers sat for Pre-U, whilst the first two focus on the relatively familiar threads of speaking, listening and reading, the third paper incorporates both writing and usage of the language, for example discrete manipulation of grammar, and the fourth paper covers both literary texts and films (in the case of Mandarin it will address an area of history, geography or economics alongside literature). One essay is written in English and the other in the target language. We are confident that the Pre-U will play to the strengths both of girls who love exploring the culture of the languages they are learning and those who like a linguistic challenge.


VII students have instigated various cultural societies that are driven by their own interests, for example German, Hispanic and Italian culture clubs. The modern languages magazine The Foreigner is the central focus of the year, edited and published by linguists in the sixth form. They also assist girls in younger years in societies like Chineasy and Kirillitsa. Visiting speakers from a range of eminent institutions come to deliver specialist lectures on a variety of subjects in all the languages we offer including linguistics and new ab initio languages. Essentially, we seize every opportunity to use our languages and encourage the students to do the same!

London is the best city in the world to live in when seeking cultural input from other countries. There are a wealth of exhibitions, shows and plays and dedicated language institutes and embassies who are only too happy for students to visit (Instituto Cervantes, Goethe Institut, l’Institut Français).  In recent years we have participated in various regional and national competitions such as the HSBC Chinese Speaking Competition, French debating, Hispanic theatre and German essay writing. 

The department offers senior girls a number of bespoke trips and opportunities to volunteer, for example at Hangzhou University together with a school for the deaf in China, and the Orion project in Kitezh, Russia.  At this level, it is also crucial for girls to start seeking out individual opportunities to work, travel and study, and the department can provide support and information on all of these.  Many girls are advised on individual travel projects that they can tailor to their own interests, for example working at the Hermitage in St Petersburg or studying economics in China.  


In addition to studying the chosen language further at university, adding in even more unusual languages ab initio, and pairing a language with another humanity, there are now more opportunities than ever before to combine language study or a year abroad with absolutely any other subject. Click here for inspiration! Those who have studied pure languages at university have found them useful in virtually any field, from journalism to finance to medicine.

‘A different language is a different vision of life’
Federico Fellini

Qualification: Pre-U

Board: CIE

Mode of Assessment: 100% examinations