The Modern Languages Department aims to make boys proficient in the use of one, usually two, and sometimes three languages. This involves not only linguistic competence but a thorough understanding of different cultures.
In Year 7, boys choose either French or Spanish as their first language which they study to IGCSE. In addition to French or Spanish, all boys in Year 7 learn Mandarin Chinese. The demand for second and third foreign language study is encouraging: in Year 8, boys choose to start German or may continue with Chinese. In Year 9, French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish are introduced as options. Italian is also offered as an accelerated two-year IGCSE course beginning in Year 10. It is normal for over half of the Year 11 cohort to sit two language GCSEs with a significant number of boys choosing to continue to study one or more languages at A level (Pre-U for German).
Our well-resourced language laboratory provides intensive practice in the key skills of listening and speaking while seven native-speaker assistants contribute to the achievement of excellent levels of oral competence.
The department believes in the importance of bringing a language to life by spending time in a country in which it is spoken and there is a wide range of optional language study visits to France, Spain, Germany, Italy and China for pupils of all ages. It is expected that pupils studying A levels will participate in residential study, a homestay visit or an exchange, all of which are organised by the College.
In addition to a strong co-curricular provision, boys are actively encouraged to participate in language competitions outside the College. These include the Stephen Spender Prize, HSBC / British Council Chinese Speaking Competition, UK Linguistics Olympiad, London Schools French debating competition and the EU young translators’ competition. Every year the Department runs a week-long languages week and in November 2016, the Department ran “Dulwich Linguistic”, which involved the entire student body from Reception to Year 13 and many other departments outside languages. The week was highly successful and more details can be found here: Dulwich Linguistic
A measure of the success of language learning at the College is the encouraging number of students who go on to read Modern Languages beyond Dulwich. Boys looking to study Modern Languages at university are tutored in the literature and advanced culture of their chosen subjects as well as taken beyond the Year 13 syllabus in their linguistic work.