Modern Foreign Languages

Being able to speak a language connects us to the world around us. As Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my universe”.

Key Stage 3

At St. Mary’s Catholic School, most students study French in Year 7 and a few students study Spanish. In Year 7 topics include Family and friends, My home, My town, My school day and Leisure. Most students are given the opportunity to study a second language, either Italian or Spanish half way through Year 7.

In Year 8, students study only one language. The topics for French include Jobs, Daily routine, TV programmes, Invitations, Clothes and Shopping, Food, Holidays and Pocket money. In Italian, students learn about Family (quick revision), School, Daily routine, Christmas in Italy, Free-time activities, Future intentions, Town, House, Weather, Going out, Food and Drink, Holidays in the past and future. In Spanish, students revise personal details and learn about the topics of Food, Clothes, Tourism, Going out and Leisure activities)

In Year 9 students continue with the language they have chosen in Year 8. They start the AQA GCSE course and study the topics of Me, my family and friends and Technology in everyday life. Key Stage 3 French students use Expo 1 and 2 as well as the AQA French GCSE textbooks from OUP. Spanish students use Mira 1 and 2 as well as the AQA Spanish GCSE textbooks from OUP.

All Key Stage 3 students are regularly assessed. Common Assessments take place each half term and students are set according to ability. Grammar is an important part of the learning and students have regular translation practice to help develop skills in this area.
Key Stage 3 Level Descriptors

Key Stage 4

GCSE Modern Foreign Languages – French/ Italian/Spanish

Assessment Methods

At Key Stage 4 French, Italian and Spanish are currently options for our students. In Year 10, French and Spanish follow the AQA examination board, whereas Italian follows the Pearson examination board. In Year 11, all students follow the AQA examination board. The final examinations consist of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing exams each worth 25% of the overall grade. There are two tiers for each examination and the students take either Foundation or Higher tier.
NB: students who are fortunate to speak languages other than those on offer at St Mary’s can also be given the opportunity to sit a GCSE and the Department will help them achieve this.
More information can be found on and

GCSE courses in French and Spanish (and Italian Year 11) look at three themes:-
1. Identity and culture
2. Local, national, international and global areas of interest
3. Current and future study and employment

GCSE Italian (Year 10) looks at five themes:
1. Identity and culture
2. Local area, holiday, travel
3. School
4. Future aspirations, study and work
5. International and global dimension

The Speaking unit is worth 25% of the qualification as a whole. Students complete three tasks: a rôle-play, a picture presentation, and general conversation.

As well as essay writing, the students complete a translation task from English into the foreign language. (In the Reading paper there is also translation task from the foreign language into English).

Key Stage 5

Languages complement many subjects at university and the skills learnt through languages are easily transferable: communication, thinking and analytical skills to name but a few.
The examination board for A Level French we use is AQA and Pearson for Italian and Spanish.

For French the themes are:
1. Social issues and trends
2. Political and artistic culture

Paper 1 is a Listening, Reading and Writing paper worth 50% of the grade and Paper 2 is a Writing examination worth 20% of the examination. This includes two set texts. Paper 3 is a Speaking examination worth 30% and includes a discussion of a stimulus card, and a presentation and discussion of an independent research project. Further information is available from:

For Italian the themes are:
1. I cambiamenti della società italiana
2. La cultura politica ed artistica nei Paesi di lingua italiana
3. L’Italia: una società in evoluzione
4. Dal fascismo ai giorni nostril

For Spanish the themes are:
1. La evolución de la sociedad española
2. La cultura política y artística en el mundo hispanohablante
3. La inmigración y la sociedad multicultural española
4. La dictadura franquista y la transición a la democracia

Italian and Spanish are similar except for the weightings of the paper. Paper 1 is worth 40% of the grade, while Paper 2 and 3 are worth 30% each. Further information is available from:

Upcoming Events

03 Jun

Year 13 GCE A Level Exams

3 June, 2019 – 25 June, 2019
03 Jun

Year 11 GCSE Exams

3 June, 2019 – 21 June, 2019
20 Jun

DofE Assessed Expedition Bronze Yr10 Silver Yr12

20 June, 2019 – 22 June, 2019
21 Jun

Year 9 - Battlefields of Ypres and the Somme

21 June, 2019 – 23 June, 2019