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.

Having a GCSE or an A Level in a language puts you at a clear advantage. Some universities insist on languages, all universities welcome them. The UK economy is already bleeding billions to deficient language skills, so whether you support Brexit or not, one thing is for sure: the UK will be looking to make new alliances, open up new communication channels and forge new deals, and with undergraduate linguists being at a record low, those with backgrounds in languages will be in demand. There is also increasing evidence that points to language learning helping to fight off dementia.

Block 3

We are proud to offer four core anguages with Block 3 students studying at least 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 will study a minimum of two of the following languages:

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Latin 


Most students will have studied French prior to Bedales and thus many students feel most comfortable continuing their French studies in order to build upon the foundations which are already in place and thus 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.

Spanish and Russian

Fast track courses in Spanish and Russian are offered in Block 3. The courses assume no prior knowledge of the language yet are also suitable for those who may have already studied a little. Each language follows a textbook which provides a confidence boosting structure for the students, supplemented with new and relevant materials by the teachers. We use Viva 3 in Spanish and Through Russia with Love in Russian. These courses are designed for students taking an express route to GCSE in three years and aim to cover all the basics during the first year.

Blocks 4 & 5 (GCSE)

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

Examining Boards
  • AQA GCSE: French and Spanish
  • EDEXCEL GCSE: Russian

Sixth Form

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.

Examining Boards
  • AQA: French and Spanish

Japanese, Italian, 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.


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

Recently we have offered a French study stay in Nice and a Russian trip working in an orphanage outside Moscow. For Spanish students we have a study stay to Grenada for the GCSE students. 

The new A Level courses require in depth knowledge of the culture and issues in countries where the studied language is spoken meaning that Sixth Form trips have become even more important. At present we have an annual Sixth Form trip to Paris which involves a trip to the cinema and the Théâtre de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter along with the discovery of the events of the French Revolution. We are also offering a new trip to Bilbao for Spanish students. Block 3 students go to northern France on a battlefields trip.

Head of Department: Tristan Wilson