St Bede's Inter-Church School

St Bede’s Inter-Church School

“Cum Deo - With God”  •  Cambridge
St Bede’s Free School Go
Ofsted Outstanding

Foreign Languages

The Languages Department at St. Bede’s currently consists of four full-time members and two part-time members of staff. We are also fortunate to have dedicated French and German language assistants who support staff and students in lessons.

Languages are primarily taught in four specialist classrooms located in a single Languages building. Classrooms are bright and spacious and are all equipped with ‘Smartboard’ interactive whiteboards.

Languages are compulsory for approximately 70% of the cohort at GCSE and students are encouraged to continue with French and/or German. We seek to foster self-confidence, develop a love of languages in all students regardless of ability and our expectations are high. Students of all abilities enjoy their language lessons and participate well.  Students from Years 8 to 11 receive two hours of teaching per week in both languages, Year 7 students receive two hours of French. We are pleased to be able to offer GCSE Latin as an option at the end of Year 8.

Year 7 and 8 French and German

In Year 7 students study French and are taught in mixed ability tutor groups. After October half term they are taught in the same groups as their English sets. This arrangement continues into Year 8. In Year 8 most students begin the study of German as a second foreign language. The course in both languages allows students to make rapid progress in their use and understanding of the foreign language – starting with simple nouns and phrases, to sentences and paragraphs, whilst at the same time using more complex language as different tenses and more advanced structures are introduced.

GCSE French and German (Years 9 - 11)

The GCSE in French and German is a natural progression from the topics and grammar that have already been studied in years 7 and 8. For example, students already know how to talk about themselves, family and friends, school, hobbies, where they live, food and drink. The aim of the course is to enable students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the foreign language (including grammar) in a variety of contexts.

Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing skills are all examined in the final term of Year 11. New skills to be examined include spontaneous conversation, translation from and into the foreign language, and use of authentic texts in the Reading exam. Students who opt to take a GCSE in French and / or German will be adding an international dimension to their choice of subjects, which is something many employers and higher education providers want.

Content: There are five topic areas to be studied:

  • Identity and Culture
  • Local area, holiday and travel
  • School
  • Future aspirations, study and work
  • International and global dimension


Students take four exams worth 25% each of the final GCSE grade. They can study at either Foundation or Higher level, and will be awarded a grade between 1 and 9, with 9 being the highest.


Paper / skill being examined





Listening exam


This requires students to listen to recordings in French / German and answer questions about what they hear. Some of the questions are multiple-choice and some require students to write short answers in English and French / German.





I hour approx


Reading exam


The reading section gives students texts to read and questions to answer. Some of the questions are multiple-choice and some ask for short answers in English and French / German. Texts are taken from authentic French / German sources such as magazines and books. Students also need to translate sentences or a short passage from French / German into English.





1 hour approx


Speaking exam


In this part of the exam students undertake a role play with the examiner (the student's teacher) and talk about a photo. They also talk about two of the five topic areas that have been studied.





10-15 mins


Writing exam


In the Foundation paper students write about a photo, write a short passage and write a longer one on one of a choice of two topics.

In the Higher paper students write longer passages about two topics from a choice of four.

At both levels there is also a translation exercise from English into French / German.





1 hour approx.


This qualification offers suitable progression for students wishing to study French and/or German at A Level. In the course of their GCSE studies students develop their ability to solve problems, work independently and communicate confidently. Having a GCSE in a language can considerably boost a student’s further education and employability prospects.

Trips and Visits

These are currently under review


The past is a foreign country and one passport to it is Latin. Latin is as dependable and logical as clockwork, a jigsaw puzzle or computer code, yet Romans used it to describe a world (real or imagined) as dazzling, as dangerous and no less human than our own. Learning Latin helps students to see the 21st century in the light of the 1st, to master complex logical systems, to better handle the levers of modern languages, to weigh each word and present clear and creative arguments.

Latin is not a secret pre-requisite for Medicine or Law at Oxbridge: it is a conversation with the ancient world. Although some Latin students go on to study other Classical studies at A Level, many find that Latin improves their performance in other subjects such as English, maths, history and modern languages.

Students study for the OCR Latin J282 qualification starting in Year 9.


  • The fundamentals of Classical Latin including vocabulary, grammar and syntax
  • Reading Latin is the goal, with a small amount of writing Latin (no speaking or listening elements)
  • Introduction to daily life, politics, religion etc of the Greco-Roman world
  • Representative Roman authors and their works

Students sit three exams at the end of Year 11:

  • Language. Students study model stories in Latin to build knowledge and understanding of Latin vocabulary, accidence and syntax. There is also a small component of translation form English into Latin. This exam is worth 50% of the final grade and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Prose Literature. Students study a selection of Roman authors in the original Latin, answer questions in English on the content and analyse, evaluate and respond to the texts as literature. This exam is worth 25% of the final grade and lasts 1 hour.
  • Verse Literature. Students study the Roman epic poet Virgil and his account of the fall of Troy in the original Latin, and answer questions in  English on the content. This exam is worth 25% of the final grade and lasts 1 hour.

Names and contact details of staff:

Mr S Westgate (Head of Faculty of Foreign Languages):

Mrs S Barton (Teacher of French):

Miss H Welchman (Teacher of French and German):

Miss J Watson (Teacher of French and German):

Mrs B Davidson (Teacher of German):

Mr P McNeely (Teacher of Latin):


Useful links: for an excellent online (free!) dictionary.  for some excellent interactive language and grammar activities.  for exam-related information