‘Listen!’ is the first word of the Rule of St Benedict. Learning a foreign language goes beyond serving one’s own needs and desires as we strive to redirect the focus from self to others.

The importance of understanding and speaking a language cannot be denied and at Ampleforth we believe learning a language to be an integral part of a well-rounded education. We are a school where 30% of our students come from overseas and all of our students benefit greatly from the opportunity that this brings to encounter the language and culture which they are studying in an authentic setting.  

Our four mainstream modern foreign languages are French, Spanish, German and Italian, which are taught at GCSE and A level. Students normally study two of these in Year 9, continuing with one or both to GCSE in Year 10 and Year 11. Mandarin Chinese is introduced in Activity time by our Chinese language assistant and is also offered as a private tuition option. 

The department achieves good results at GCSE, AS and A2 level and we are pleased that these results compare favourably against similar schools; schools which, like us, enter native and non-native speakers for language examinations. In the summer 2015 examinations the Modern Language Department was delighted to receive overall 6 Best Performance and Excellence awards by The Good Schools Guide. Our ALPS (Advanced Level performance system) reports are also outstanding, which means that we are within or exceed the top 25% of the A level benchmark nationally. 

Our trips to France, Spain or Germany are always well-subscribed and participating in the UK Linguistic Olympiad is an opportunity for all students of all disciplines, and particularly for those who like logic, to show their linguistic ability: on average a third of the entrants are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates. Every year we mark the celebration of the European Day of Languages and, regularly, we enter the students for national competitions like Vocab Express. From organised events like those mentioned to the most informal social interaction, or the mentoring that native and advanced learners offer to other students, the school breathes a unique multilingual flavour of which we are proud.