Our Modern Foreign Languages department is quite simply second to none. We are proud to be the only school in York to teach Mandarin Chinese, alongside Latin, Spanish and French. Our lucky pupils get to spend a week in a French chateau to finesse their French, which they start learning early in Pre-Prep. 

Pupils begin Latin in Year 6, Mandarin Chinese in Year 7 and Spanish in Year 8. We believe it is important to introduce languages early in order to maximise their potential as a lifelong asset.

Teaching and Learning

The languages department is dynamic and enthusiastic. A collaborative approach to teaching and learning is embedded within daily practice to develop strong, lifelong linguistic skills, the first steps towards becoming independent and creative language learners. With skilled linguists in the department, we use a high ratio of target language to reinforce knowledge. We make acquiring a new language fun, meaningful and relevant to our young people through role play and entering international music video competitions, where we have had great success. With small class sizes, our pupils are confident to ask questions and unafraid to make mistakes they know they will learn from. Students enjoy challenge in culturally-orientated and vibrant classrooms.

Masterclasses in French

French is taught exceptionally well throughout the school journey, with the Head of Languages originally from France herself. In Pre-Prep, work is mainly oral as pupils learn to develop their listening and comprehension skills through songs, games and activities. Pupils gradually develop their written skills from Year 3, with emphasis not only on the spoken and written word but also on French culture, through inspiring project work.

Our young people take part in French Day, linked to Geography and History. We have established contacts with French schools so that pupils correspond with pen friends to share experiences in a different language, which directly brings learning to life.

The highly anticipated week-long school visit to France, based in a chateau, includes historical day trips to Normandy landing beaches and The Bayeux Tapestry, as well as tricky shopping list challenges in French markets. The aim is not only to improve pupils’ French accents but to instil curiosity, openness, and affinity with other cultures.

When pupils leave at the end of Year 8, the majority go into the top set for French, several take GCSE French a year early, and senior schools regularly comment on how advanced our young people are in this subject.


Chinese, Spanish & Optional German

Learning foreign languages is associated with excellent, long-term academic results. Studies show that in the world’s highest-performing school systems, every school year learns one or more languages. This opens our pupils’ minds to different ways of living and promotes harmony and respect in the schoolyard and beyond, crucial to preparing young people for our increasingly globalised and multilingual world.

We are proud to be the only school in York to introduce the teaching and learning of Mandarin Chinese when our pupils are in Year 7 or 8. We also introduce Spanish to our Year 7 and 8 pupils. Our highly qualified staff can also offer German should a pupil need to start this for their senior school. This is all part of bespoke tuition plan we can offer our pupils.

As a school we celebrate Chinese New Year, with Year 7 or 8 pupils hosting and organising a whole school celebration. Our pupils study the history of China and learn calligraphy techniques. When studying Spanish, our Year 7 and 8 pupils cook and share food from Spain, including paella, on the very popular Spanish Day.