Bedales has always valued languages. Languages enable communication, independence and play a huge role in arousing inquisitiveness and curiosity in the learner. This leads to an appreciation of other cultures and as such is a fundamental cornerstone of the Bedales education.

  • Block 3 (Year 9)
  • Blocks 4 and 5 (Years 10 and 11)
  • Sixth Form
  • Trips

We are proud to offer four core languages with a typical Block 3 student studying 2 when they start in September. This gives each student the opportunity to try a new language or build on one they may have already studied. This dual language approach also helps students make a more informed decision if they choose to study only one language at GCSE when they enter Block 4.

Block 3 students may choose from:

- French
- Spanish
- Russian
- Japanese (from September 2024)

Students coming into Block 3 must opt for two languages. Students must choose at least one of French and/or Spanish when making their options. 


The French course is a continuation course for those who feel most comfortable building upon the foundations which are already in place and who wish to take more confident steps towards the French GCSE. The course features a rigorous and comprehensive approach to grammar teaching as well as motivating and challenging topics and tasks, set in authentic contexts. We follow the Expo GCSE Green textbook as a confidence-boosting basis, but then tailor the lessons according to the students’ and teachers’ interests.


The Spanish course caters for beginners and for those continuing the language. We use the Claro 1 and 2 textbooks along with numerous online resources to secure solid foundations so that students can start the GCSE course in Block 4 with confidence. 


A fast-track course is offered in Russian to Block 3 which assumes no prior knowledge of the language. This course is designed for students taking an express route to GCSE in three years and aims to cover all the basics during the first year. We use Na start. Vnimanie. Marsh! all designed by Edexcel exam board. Our teachers also supplement other resources to support the students learning journey.  

Introduction of Japanese BAC

In September 2024, Japanese will be introduced in Block 3. Japanese and Russian will be taught as introductory courses in Block 3 with Japanese becoming a Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) that will begin teaching in Block 4 in September 2025.

Block 3 Japanese will focus on the essentials of communication within the classroom in the first term, before moving onto more general communication essentials and the foundation for the BAC. There will be a strong focus on Japanese culture and plans for an online school exchange.

The Bedales core curriculum requires each student to study for a GCSE in at least one modern language. Students should already have a grounding in the language or languages they plan to study for GCSE before entering Block 4.

For languages we follow the GCSE courses and in Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) students will take either higher or foundation level exams. Students are set by ability in French and Spanish. In Russian we only have one set per year and as such, it is mixed ability by default.

We believe it is extremely important for students to connect with people in the target language and we are proud to benefit from the British Council’s assistantship programme. Students have lessons in small groups with the assistants once a week. These lessons are valuable in helping build their confidence in speaking in the target language. We also supplement our classroom teaching with activities and material from multiple subscription-based software packages.

We offer trips at the end of Block 4 to Cantabria for Spanish and Nice for French. Our MFL GCSE courses give students the confidence they need for travel in a country where the language is spoken, or better still, to continue their study at A Level. 

Examining boards

- French and Spanish: AQA
- Russian: Edexcel

French, Spanish and Russian

In French, Spanish and Russian we examine contemporary cultural, social and political contexts of the countries through a variety of literary texts, newspapers and magazine articles, and films. Students are also given guidance in their personal exploration of the culture and issues of countries where their target language is spoken so they can transfer these skills to their Independent Research Project. We also enrich this academic experience with social events, which in past and present have included, film nights, cafés and trips to the cinema or theatre. Our big languages event of the year is International Day.


Japanese and Mandarin Chinese

Students may also choose to have lessons in the above languages at GCSE or A Level. In Chinese Mandarin we offer GCSE and A Level. These subjects are offered by visiting specialists and are charged separately. They should be treated as bolt-on subjects studied in addition to those of the requirements of the Bedales languages curriculum.

Examining Boards

- AQA: French and Spanish
- Edexcel: Russian

Spending time in a country that speaks the target language is a critical part of language learning and exploration of that country’s culture. At Bedales, the Languages department offers many trips.  

We have our highly popular and well established yearly French A Level and Enrichment trip to Paris for 6.1 (Year 12) students in March. We also have a Spanish A Level and Enrichment trip to Barcelona planned for next year. 

For Block 5 students, we are running study trips to Girona for students of Spanish and Avignon for students of French. Both these trips will be happening in September. We are also hoping to run a trip to Talin, Estonia, for Block 4 and Block 5 students of Russian in September.

With the launch of our Japanese exchange link in Osaka, we will be taking 15 Sixth form students to Japan in October. With the introduction of the Japanese BAC, we are looking at offering this trip to students of Japanese in the lower year groups from 2026.

Head of Department: Tristan Wilson