Modern Foreign Languages

Our aim is to equip boys with the life skill of being able to operate independently and spontaneously in languages other than English.

We recognise the benefits of experiencing first-hand the language and culture of our countries of study.

In 2022, Year 7 and 8 pupils enjoyed a study trip to the vibrant Spanish city of Barcelona while Year 9 and 10 pupils visited the fascinating region of Alsace-Lorraine.

Lower School

Boys in Year 7 study both Spanish and French. At the end of Year 7, boys then choose which two languages they wish to study in Year 8; they can either continue with French and Spanish or swap one of these for German.

In Year 9 boys must study at least one MFL subject but many choose to continue with two languages.

Lessons are fast-paced and varied. They include target language conversation, authentic material from the internet, drama, games, songs, and DVDs.

The MFL Department has invested in up-to-date online resources, enabling pupils to work independently using their 1:1 device, both in the classroom and at home.

Homework ranges from regular revision of vocabulary to written work, and boys are taught useful strategies for memorising new words and developing their language. We encourage regular use of online dictionaries as well as vocabulary learning websites.


We offer German, Spanish and French as options at GCSE.

Each GCSE course covers three distinct themes which are applied across all four areas of language skill – Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.

The three themes are as follows:

1. Identity and culture – includes family, friends, social and leisure activities, personal technology and customs and festivals.

2. Local, national, international, and global areas of interest – includes towns, regions, travel and tourism, plus broader issues such as healthy living, homelessness and the environment.

3. Current and future study and employment – includes ‘My Studies’, life at school, further education, and career choices.

Assessment is linear and the four skills are equally weighted at 25% each of the final grade. All papers must be taken in the same exam series (in the summer term of Year 11).

At Merchant Taylors’ we are fortunate to have bilingual students from families who speak a variety of languages at home. We encourage these students to take a GCSE in their heritage language so that their linguistic background is recognised.

A Level

The MFL department offers A-Levels in French, Spanish and German.

Building on the knowledge, understanding and skills gained at GCSE, each course offers an insight into a country’s culture, its history and politics, religion, civil rights and immigration.

The A-Level course fosters a range of valuable transferable skills including communication, critical thinking, research, and creativity. Boys develop a high level of linguistic fluency which will provide them with an excellent foundation for further study.

The examination consists of three papers:

1. Aural understanding and reading comprehension, including a translation element

2. Assessment of writing, with questions based on the book and film they have studied during the course.

3. The spoken element of the exam. This involves discussion of both an ‘Independent Research Project’ and a stimulus card based on one of the topics of study.

We are fortunate to have the linguistic and cultural input of foreign language assistants who assist in preparing students for their speaking test.

Boys are encouraged to visit the country relevant to their studies to enhance their linguistic abilities and cultural awareness.