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Year 9

All Year 9 entrants may choose to study one of the following combinations of languages:

Spanish and French

Italian and Spanish

German and French

French and Italian

German and Spanish

The French IGCSE course actually begins in Year 9 for those opting for French, owing to the fact that the majority of students come to us with some prior knowledge of the subject (though a beginners' group exists for those new to the language). Classes in the other languages are suitable for beginners.

During Year 9, students make their (I)GCSE option choices. Subject to the constraints of their other subject choices within the option blocks, they may choose to continue either, or both, of their Key Stage 3 languages.

Native speakers of French, German, Spanish or Italian may study their native language outside the normal timetable for two lessons per fortnight, allowing for other languages to be studied within the timetable blocks. These courses may lead to early entry for public examinations and also incorporate enrichment work in the native language. 


Courses are offered in French, Spanish and German leading to the AQA Level 1/2 Certificate (IGCSE for UK schools), and in Italian leading to the CIE IGCSE.

A solid foundation from Key Stage 3 is required to embark upon an IGCSE course, though the topics of study have much in common, allowing for a fair degree of revision and consolidation of what has been studied in Year 9, whilst obviously covering the vocabulary and grammar in greater breadth and depth and developing students' skills in the language. The French IGCSE course actually begins in Year 9 for those opting for French, owing to the fact that the majority of students come to us with some prior knowledge of the language. They still then have the choice of whether or not to continue with the subject beyond Year 9.

Native speakers may follow accelerated off-timetable programmes which sometimes lead to their taking IGCSE in Year 9, following which they may go on to study towards AS level and A2 (usually taken in Year 11/12).

Students have a free option concerning which language(s) to take for IGCSE, provided that they have the requisite foundation from Key Stage 3 and subject to the constraints of their other subject choices within the option blocks.

Trips are offered to France, Spain and Germany each year.

A Level

French, German, Spanish (AQA) Italian (Edexcel)

Normally a GCSE grade B in the language concerned would be considered an absolute minimum requirement to embark upon an AS course, though students who have gained an A* or A grade GCSE find the transition to AS level much less daunting. No less important is a genuine interest in language and culture. It is desirable that prospective A level students plan to spend part of their summer holidays this year in the country whose language they intend to study. We are currenly reviewing our programme of trips and exchanges and plan to offer opportunities for all GCE students to travel abroad to study their modern languages during their time at Ampleforth. AS and A2 students will also have a lesson each week with the foreign language assistant in their language.

The target language and authentic resources (including the Internet) are used extensively in the classroom from the start of the course. Students need to be highly motivated and willing to do extensive independent reading and language practice (e.g. reading foreign newspapers and listening to foreign radio broadcasts) outside of lesson times. The AS level may be studied as a discrete qualification in Year 12. As part of a full A level its percentage value is 50% (2 units), to which are added the further 50% (2 units) examined at A2 if the student continues with the subject in Year 13. Details of the AS and A2 units and their relative weighting in the qualification as a whole can be accessed by following these links: AS and A2.

All courses are designed to enable students to extend their practical command of the foreign language, whilst giving them some insights into the culture and civilisation of the relevant countries.

Native speaker students

Native speakers follow a special programme designed to prepare them for early GCSE and GCE examinations in their mother tongue as follows:

Year 9 – GCSE taken in the summer session

Year 10 – first year of AS course (Year 10 students are not normally permitted to take the examinations, owing to the maturity required to access the curriculum at this level)

Year 11 – second year of AS course; modules taken in the summer session

Year 12 – A2 course (modules taken on the summer session)

Mandarin Chinese Tuition

Students in all years have the option to take Mandarin Chinese Lessons as an extra-curricular activity. As China’s importance in the world has risen, we have seen increasing numbers of students realising the need to learn Chinese. Students regularly take examinations (Asset Languages and Edexcel) in Chinese and we have had some noteworthy successes at GCSE level from students who do not come from Chinese backgrounds. We are very proud of our students’ achievements in this demanding language.

Parents of new and existing pupils may contact the Modern Languages Department at any time during their child’s school career to request Mandarin Chinese lessons, the cost of which is added to the end of term bill. Requests for lessons, and notice to cancel them, must be received by the department in writing. In order to fulfil contractual arrangements with teaching staff, a half term’s (6 lessons) notice must be given for lessons to be discontinued.