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
- 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.


Latin is taught in Block 3 using a course developed within the department specifically for Bedales requirements. It provides a thorough grounding in the basics of grammar and syntax and is suitable for all abilities, from absolute beginners to those who have done Common Entrance. More able students are given additional reading passages to consolidate and stretch their learning. Formal training in grammar is supplemented by the use of audio-visual and ICT resources. The study of the language is presented in the context of the culture of the Romans. Students will continue to develop their knowledge and understanding of Latin so that they are well placed to continue it to GCSE if they choose to do so. Latin's influence on and connections to both English and the Romance languages is stressed throughout the course.

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.

Examining boards

- French and Spanish: AQA
- Russian: Edexcel
- Latin: OCR

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.


The A Level course in Latin is based equally on the study of the ancient language and on a detailed reading of texts by ancient authors – at least two in prose and two in verse - in the original language and partly in English. We also explore the languages by means of the challenging but valuable discipline of prose composition (English to Latin). In the second year of the course, students read an even broader selection of original literature as well as consolidating grammar and broadening vocabulary in preparation for the verse unseen translation and prose composition papers.

Examining Boards

- AQA: French and Spanish
- OCR: Latin

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.


Head of Department: Tristan Wilson