Modern Foreign Languages

We strongly believe that learning another language opens doors to new cultures and new experiences that are not possible to enjoy if you only speak one language.

Languages directory

Learn more about the range of languages on offer at Downe House.

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Head of Department: Mrs Jane Basnett

Explore our full range of languages offered at Downe House.

The Department offers five main languages: German, French, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. In addition, it may be possible to study Russian and Japanese to GCSE and beyond. Wherever possible we aim to support girls in their desire to study other languages. In recent years girls have studied Arabic, Polish and Portuguese to public examination level.

We have a team of dedicated teachers who are passionate about languages and who love to share this passion with the girls. We pride ourselves on helping girls to explore other cultures and have this very much at the heart of our teaching, relying on broadcasts and foreign news websites to inform our lessons.

Our desire to bring languages to life is also met by what we do outside the classroom. There is a full and varied programme of events from study trips abroad to film clubs, from Language Days to entry into a variety of competitions. In addition, the Department invites in guest speakers and theatre companies on occasion throughout the year. Recent highlights have been our successes in language competitions such as the British Council and HSBC Mandarin Chinese advanced speaking competition, The Times’ Stephen Spender Poetry Translation competition and success in the Routes into Languages MFL Speaking Competitions.

We have high expectations of our pupils and regularly enter our top set girls a year early for their French GCSE examination. In Upper Fifth (Year 11) these girls then sit the DELF qualification (Diplôme d’études en langue française) which is a well-recognised qualification viewed in high regard by European employers. In other languages we enter some girls for qualifications a year or sometimes even two years early, if appropriate. These girls are then guided towards gaining a Pre-U Short Course. In the Sixth Form, many girls continue with language learning and many choose to continue with two languages at A Level (or Pre-U Chinese).  
 
Many of our girls continue their language study at university and consistently over the last five years, we have sent girls to Oxford or Cambridge to read their chosen language. As teachers this continued desire to study languages and explore other cultures first hand at university is a source of great satisfaction and we are delighted to hear of our pupils’ continuing success once they leave Downe House. 

Visits & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House, is to come and experience it for yourself – arrange a visit or join us for one of our Open Mornings?

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