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, pupils choose either French or Spanish as their first language which they study to IGCSE. In addition to French or Spanish, all pupils in Year 7 learn Mandarin Chinese. The demand for second and third foreign language study is encouraging: in Year 8, pupils choose to start German or may continue with Chinese. In Year 9, French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish are introduced as options. It is usual for 30% of the Year 11 cohort to sit two language GCSEs with a significant number of pupils choosing to continue to study one or more languages at A level (Pre-U for German).
Communicative proficiency, coupled with intellectual challenge and enrichment through film, literature and other aspects of target-language culture lie at the heart of our approach to language study. Our schemes of work look to teach beyond the confines of the chosen specifications and inspirational teaching brings languages to life whilst maintaining strong linguistic standards. Our well-resourced language laboratory provides intensive practice in the key skills of listening and speaking while eight native-speaker assistants contribute to the achievement of excellent levels of oral competence.
In addition to a strong school-based co-curricular provision that ranges from “Aviation française” in the Junior School, to the “Languages and Cultures Society” in the Middle and Upper Schools, we actively encourage pupils to participate in language competitions and events outside the College. These include the Stephen Spender Translation Prize, London Schools’ French and Spanish debating competitions, HSBC / British Council Chinese Speaking Competition, UK-German Connection Young Ambassadors scheme, Goethe Institut German Debating Competition and the UK Linguistics Olympiad. We are very proud of our pupils’ success in these competitions. Every year pupils and staff take part in a languages week of activities. In November 2016, the Department ran “Dulwich Linguistic”, which involved the entire student body from Reception to Year 13. The week was highly successful and more details can be found on the Dulwich Linguistic page.
There are currently 16 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.
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. Pupils 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. Every year, there are candidates for Oxbridge entry in most languages, and the College is proud of the achievements of its linguists who have continued their studies at university and moved into careers where languages are essential.
Mr Robert Baylis MA MA
Head of Modern Languages
Mr Nick Mair BA
Director of Languages
Mr Will Dugdale MA
Head of German
Mr Alex Iltchev BA
Head of Spanish
Mr Andrew Stark BA DMS MA
Head of Chinese