Modern Foreign Languages

❝If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞
- Nelson Mandela


At Ratcliffe, we strive to nurture a lasting enthusiasm for foreign languages.  By offering pupils a choice of French, German and Spanish, our aim is to develop motivated, competent linguists, who will reap the life-long benefits of being able to speak another language.

Pupils study French, German and Spanish in Year 6 on a carousel. In Year 7 the majority of pupils choose to study any two of these until the end of Year 9 and at least one in Years 10 and 11.  All three languages are offered at A level.

Languages are taught in a bright, purpose-built building, consisting of three classrooms, an adjoining computer room and spacious central area, which is often used for individual oral lessons.  There is also an additional classroom.  All are equipped with interactive whiteboards to support digital learning.

The department consists of six, highly experienced, dedicated members of staff, including two native speakers, and three language assistants who are employed to develop the pupils’ speaking skills.

Attitudes to language learning are positive; we have healthy numbers of dual linguists at GCSE and uptake at A Level is strong.  A large number of our A Level students go on to study one of their chosen languages at university or combine a language with their studies in Accountancy, Business Studies, Engineering, English, Law, Medicine and Veterinary Science.

Academic Programme

In Years 7-9 pupils develop their confidence in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, with the emphasis on the target language as the means of communication in the classroom.  A variety of resources, including audio, visual and digital, are used, and pupils take part in group and pair work.  Groups are set according to ability, where possible.

In Years 10 and 11, classes are set according to ability, where possible.  Students develop their competence in the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing through their study of a wide range of themes, including family, leisure, school and holidays.  The Edexcel examination board is used.

In Years 12 and 13, the WJEC examination board is used.  Students build on the four skills through learning about current affairs and topics such as young people’s problems, sport, healthy living and education. They learn how to argue and defend their viewpoint in the target language by taking part in discussion and debate, both in groups and with the foreign language assistant.  In Year 13 students study a combination of film and literature.


Recent News

I am delighted to announce two recent successes in French, both at events organised by Business Language Champions.

The first involved students in Year 10, who participated in a day of code cracking, and the second included year 12 students who took part in a series of debates, both competing against other schools from around the country.

These events are great confidence builders and sow the seeds for future careers, as they often give the students an insight into the world of work.  Both highlighted the importance of knowing a foreign language as a life-enhancing skill, which is simply a must in our global society.

You can read the full details of each competition in the articles below, which appeared in the local press.

Mrs S Cushing
Head of Modern Foreign Languages
January 2018

Business Language Champions “The War of The Words” – Year 12 French Debating Challenge

Business Language Champions “The Word is Not Enough” – Year 10 French Debating Challenge

Extra-Curricular Activities

The department offers a wide variety of extra-curricular clubs and activities for all age groups.  All pupils are encouraged to participate in the various language challenges offered through House competitions.  For Sixth Form students we offer regional debating competitions and journalism days, in conjunction with Business Language Champions, and we host language society evenings once a term, during which students typically take part in language quizzes and sample French, German and Spanish food and drink.

For lower school pupils there are film, games and literature clubs and an annual Year 8 residential trip to the Opal Coast in France.

All students studying a language in Years 10-13 are strongly advised to take part in at least one of the residential visits to Nice, Salamanca or Berlin.  The college also has a well-established exchange link with a Gymnasium in Koblenz, Germany.


Mrs S Cushing, Head of Languages -

Miss S Beddoes, Second in Languages -
Miss M Casas, Teacher of Spanish -

Mrs A Crebbin, Teacher of French and Spanish –
Mr P McCrindell, Teacher of German -

Miss J Reddin, Teacher of French -
Mrs W Zaragoza, Spanish Teaching Assistants