Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Department

Why learn a language?

The knowledge of another language is increasingly important in our modern world.


A knowledge of another language can:

  • improve your intercultural understanding
  • increase your employability
  • improve your literacy skills in your own language
  • improve your general communication skills
  • sharpen your cognitive and life skills
  • make travel more enjoyable
  • increase your study options
  • introduce you to a whole new world of art, music and literature.


A strong belief in the above benefits underpins the introduction of the Ebacc and the current drive towards languages for all pupils in primary and secondary schools. A knowledge of another language is helpful in many careers, for example in the tourism industry, the NHS, the police force, sales and marketing, international banking, journalism, the diplomatic service and international aid development. Careers where a language qualification is a requirement include language teaching, interpreting and translating.

Meet the department

Miss Auzinger – Head of German

Miss Chong – Head of French

Mrs Herring – Teacher of French and Spanish

Miss Lewis – Teacher of Spanish

Ms Tallant – Head of Spanish

Miss Tester – Teacher of German and French / Second in Department

Our Curriculum Intent: Knowledge and skills that pupils will gain from learning a language

We want our community to be one where everyone embraces the value of languages and where all pupils have the opportunity to appreciate different cultures both within the college community and the world outside. We have an inclusive approach and are proud to be able to offer French, German and Spanish to all pupils. Our vision is to provide pupils with a well planned and sequenced, well taught, broad and balanced curriculum so that they can become confident language learners with strong oracy skills.  


Our starting point has to be assumed to be zero because of the wide range of MFL experiences in our feeder primary schools. By the end of Key Stage 3 (Year 9) we would expect students to have a solid foundation of grammar, vocabulary and phonics in order to be able to communicate basic ideas and opinions on a range of topics. This planned and sequenced curriculum will prepare them for the challenges of Key Stage 4 and beyond. 

Our Curriculum Implementation: How MFL is taught at St. Richard’s

We offer our pupils a clear curriculum journey where they know more, can do more and remember more at the various endpoints. 


From Year 7 we start the journey with the alphabet, phonics, basic grammar and verbs. In Year 8 our focus is on pupils developing their grammatical knowledge and expanding their vocabulary. By the end of Year 9 we want our pupils to be able to communicate in 3 tenses and use more sophisticated structures and vocabulary. 


Year 10 is a full launch into the skills and knowledge required for the GCSE course. To consolidate very strong grammar teaching foundations and transfer key knowledge to their long term memory, written and verbal feedback, retrieval practice and regular assessments are prioritised. Year 11 is very much skill-focused and includes a rigorous revision and intervention programme. We are pursuing a high standard for all with appropriate scaffolding where needed. 


Homework is set regularly as we believe that it adds to the depth of understanding and promotes independence. Through our own department research on metacognition and self-regulation we are working towards encouraging pupils to be more aware of how they learn and why languages are the gateway to cultural capital. 


Our department prides itself on using and evaluating the latest research to inform our teaching pedagogy and to adapt schemes of work accordingly. This in turn enables us to share best practice and ensure that our pupils receive the highest quality learning experience. 

Year 7

Currently on entering Year 7, all pupils learn French, German and Spanish for a short carousel before expressing their language preference. Once decided which language they are studying, they will continue with this language all the way through to Year 11. Pupils have 2 x 50 minute lessons per week and are set one homework task weekly.

Year 8

All pupils learn one language – French, German or Spanish – for 3 x 50 minute lessons per week. Students are set two homework tasks a week which cover a variety of skills.

Year 9

All pupils in Year 9 continue to learn either French, German or Spanish for 3 x 50 minute lessons per week and are set two homework tasks weekly which cover a variety of skills. The focus in Year 9 is on mastery of grammar and developing the necessary skills to succeed at GCSE. 

Year 10 and 11

Pupils study for the AQA GCSE examination at the end of Year 11 and have 4 x 50 minute lessons per week. The focus in lessons is on mastery of grammar and key skills which will ensure that they learn how to communicate accurately using increasingly more complex and authentic language. We are committed to supporting and motivating all learners to ensure they achieve the best possible GCSE grades.  


To get a better idea of the content covered and the format of the GCSE along with exam style questions, click the link below to get to the AQA exam board:

Our Curriculum Impact: Exam Outcomes

We are delighted that we have one of the highest Ebacc point scores and Ebacc entries in the country (currently roughly double the national average) and continue to educate ourselves on the most effective teaching strategies to engage more SEND and PP pupils.


GCSE Exam Results 2023

120 pupils in Year 11 took:

French: (32 pupils) 100% Grades 4 – 9;   94%  Grades 5 – 9; 47% Grades 7 – 9

German: (44 pupils) 98% Grades 4 – 9; 82% Grades 5 – 9; 25% Grades 7 – 9

Spanish: (44 pupils) 98% Grades 4 – 9; 91% Grades 5 – 9; 68% Grades 7 – 9


GCSE Exam Results 2022

131 pupils in Year 11 took:

French: (51 pupils) 100% Grades 4 – 9; 100% Grades 5 – 9; 51% Grades 7 – 9

German: (44 pupils) 100% Grades 4 – 9; 98% Grades 5 – 9; 39% Grades 7 – 9

Spanish: (36 pupils) 100% Grades 4 – 9; 100% Grades 5 – 9; 64% Grades 7 – 9


We also enter pupils with a home language other than English for a GCSE in their mother tongue whenever possible, usually in Year 9 or 10.

How can I help my child with their language studies at home?

It is really not necessary to know the target foreign language at all. You can support your children by:


  • asking what has been learnt in each lesson.


  • reinforcing the importance of spaced learning (spending 10 minutes at the end of each day revisiting class notes and memorising vocabulary).


  • encouraging them to test themselves on class notes made especially on vocabulary and grammar when learning is set for homework. 


  • discouraging them from using Google Translate or other similar online translation tools. Instead, provide an up-to-date Collins dictionary to support the completion of homework.


  • encouraging them to visit the following language websites to practise reading and writing the language and hear the language spoken: (to access the GCSE textbook) (for a range of self-assessment materials) & (to learn vocabulary) (for grammar revision) (to access an online dictionary)


  • reminding them that there is no shortcut to language learning and that it is a long and rewarding journey.
Trips and Extra-curricular Activities

We have a programme of annual trips which includes the following:

  • A residential trip to Spain for Year 10 pupils.
  • A residential trip to the German Christmas Markets Year 10 pupils.  
  • A residential trip to Normandy in France for Year 8/9 pupils.

Christmas Market Trip to Aachen

French Residential Trip to Normandy

Trip to Barcelona

MFL Clubs:

Our MFL culture club takes place once a week at lunchtime. To promote leadership skills, these are often run by Year 10 pupils.  The clubs are open to everyone who would like to practise their language skills and explore different cultures with fun games and activities. 


你好 Mandarin Chinese Programme We offer pupils the opportunity to take part in the ‘My Chinese Teacher’ programme each academic year. Pupils participate in a weekly extra-curricular Mandarin club during which the group connect with a China-based teacher via video conferencing. Every lesson involves a 25 minute live and interactive session. Pupils can then extend what they have learnt each week by accessing lesson follow-up materials on a learning platform containing interactive activities, videos and pronunciation flashcards. The aim of the programme is to offer our pupils the opportunity to experience an insight into another language and culture to gain an introduction to a language and culture whose significance to the future and economy of our world today is rapidly increasing.



European Day of Languages:

The European Day of Languages is celebrated annually when a variety of activities are included in lessons to raise awareness of the importance of learning languages as a life skill. 


In the past, the celebration has included:

  • cultural activities led by our diverse pupil community  
  • a series of workshops led by guest speakers (e.g. British Sign Language, Esperanto, Japanese calligraphy, Latin, Russian, Gaelic, Dutch)
  • independent pupil research projects and presentations on different communities and countries 
  • learning about the cognitive benefits of second language acquisition in a presentation called ‘Be A #NeuroNinja Linguist Build Your Amazing Brain Through Learning a Modern Foreign Language’ led by Andrew Wright, CEO of Action Your Potential.