Modern Foreign Languages

We are very proud of our vibrant department, which offers French, German and Spanish from Upper Three to A Level, with many students opting to study two languages. Languages teach you adaptability and communications skills. Learning how to interact with speakers of other languages means you are less likely to be stuck in one mode of thinking. It can help you to see things from a range of perspectives - making you more adaptable, creative, and insightful. There are over 200,000,000 people over the age of 5 years old that speak more than one foreign language. Why not join them?

Girls in U3 study French, German and Spanish during the year to give them a real feel for each language. They can then choose any two languages in L4.  In preparation for GCSEs, in U4 students choose one / two of the languages they want to pursue. We also offer all 3 languages at AS / A Level. 

Beyond the curriculum, we offer plays in the foreign languages, theatre and cinema trips, cooking experiences, various competitions in and out of school, language clubs and native speaking assistants.

For those who are interested in pursuing other languages, there is the opportunity to join Mandarin club.  For bilingual students, we are able to organise examinations in their mother tongue. 

First page of the PDF file: FreeLanguageApps

Staff List


Mrs Simone Berry, BA (Hons) Canterbury, PGCE (French & German) 
Studied French, German and European Studies at the University of Kent. Studying languages was a good excuse to travel and work overseas and many vacations were spent working in the Alps. On graduating from university, she was delighted to be offered a full-time job as an Overseas Contracts Manager for a major tour operator. After eight years of negotiating contracts and managing overseas staff she decided to return to England and start a new career as a Modern Language teacher. Her first job was at Rodborough School in Godalming which necessitated a move out of London to Surrey. She then moved on to be second in the French Department at Tomlinscote School and then Head of French at the Howard of Effingham School before coming to St Catherine’s.

Miss Kathrin Cala, B.Sc. Osnabrueck (Health Sciences & English)
Having spent two years working as a medical assistant in a practice for ophthalmology in Derby, she decided to go back to university. Teaching was her first choice, having graduated in Health Sciences and English, and she enrolled in a Masters of Education programme. She will be teaching German oral lessons at St Catherine's from September 2019 to March 2020. Unfortunately, she has to go back to Germany in April to finish her studies. Kathrin enjoys visiting National Trust places, hiking, going to the cinema and exploring different countries.

Mrs Lucy Dibsdall, MA (Hons) St. Andrews, PGCE (Spanish & French)
Joined St.Catherine’s in 2007 after completing her PGCE at Cambridge. Prior to teaching Lucy worked at a global advertising agency for four years. She teaches French and Spanish. Aside from teaching she loves sport and travel.

Mrs Vicky Diprose, BA (Hons), PGCE (Spanish & French)
After working as a conference organiser based in London, she spent two years in TEFL before embarking on a PGCE. Having taught Spanish and French at Burntwood School in London for several years, becoming Head of MFL, she moved to Surrey, teaching at St Peter’s Guildford, St George’s Weybridge and Manor House School before joining St Catherine’s. She enjoys travel, cinema and contemporary novels.

Mrs Montse Gil Rivas - BA, MA Surrey, PGDip, PGCE (Spanish and French)  
Studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton and completed a PGCE at King’s College, London University.  Subsequently, taught in several schools including Godolphin and Latymer, London and St Alban’s High School, both as Head of Spanish and others including The Abbey School, Reading.  Retrained as a clinical negligence lawyer and worked for several years in a well-known national firm, but missed teaching languages so returned to teaching!  Enjoys travel to see Spanish family in the South of Spain and spending time with her family.  

Miss Jennifer Guiton BA, Masters Artois, ITT (French) 
Studied French Language and Literature at ULCO University, France. She moved to China in 2012 to teach French Language and Literature at Hubei Engineering University. In 2013, she then moved to Ireland where she taught as a French Language Assistant at Newpark Comprehensive School in Dublin. She arrived at St Catherine’s School in 2016 and completed her Initial Teacher Training in 2019. She has also been Keller’s Housemistress’ Assistant in Boarding for the last 2 years. Enjoys travelling and learning languages.

Mrs Kate Hawtin - Spanish, BA Durham, PGCE (Spanish & Italian). Head of Sixth Form
Currently on maternity leave, Kate joined St Catherine’s in 2006 after a degree in Spanish and Italian at Durham, during which she lived in Madrid and Bologna. She worked for a translation firm in London before deciding to go into teaching and completing a PGCE at Southampton. Aside from European Languages, her other interests include travel, baking and being by the sea.

Miss Marian Jiménez Sánchez-Manzanares , BEd Primary (Special Education Needs) with QTS, University of Murcia, Spain
Studied Special Education Needs in University of Murcia, Spain, and has worked in Special Education Needs for over 4 years, at St Joseph’s Special Needs School and College in Cranleigh as well as Queen Eleanor’s in Guildford. She has now joined the team at St Catherine’s to teach Spanish. She also spent a few months in Perth, Australia teaching Spanish to a small group of bilingual children with dyslexia. She loves working with children and young people, it has been the focus of her career throughout her adult life. As a native Spanish speaker, she is familiar with the challenges that learning another language can bring and has learnt some useful techniques to help overcome them. She loves to cook Mediterranean food and share it with friends and colleagues, giving them a taste of her Spanish upbringing and showing them different traditions. She finds spending time in the forest helps her to unwind and refresh so that she is always ready for the next experience.

Miss Marjorie Kerleau, MA West Virginia University (USA) 
Born and raised in France, she soon developed a very keen interest for English and thus studied English Language, Literature, and Civilisation before graduating in 2012. A strong believer in taking advantage of universities’ international exchange programmes, she spent a year in Italy studying translation and interpretation techniques, one in Cambridge working as a French Teaching Assistant in two state schools, and another one at the University of York reading English Linguistics as part of her MA. In 2013, she moved to West Virginia for two years to teach French at university and study for a second MA in TESOL. She joined St Catherine’s in 2018 and has been working as a French and EAL Teaching Assistant since.

Mrs Rosa McQuade, BA Oviedo, PGCE (Spanish)
Completed her PGCE at Oviedo University in 1988. She decided to come to England for a term to learn English, after learning French and Italian at university. She worked in several schools in Bristol and Basingstoke until she joined St Catherine’s in 1995. During her time at St Catherine’s, she has been a residential tutor, L6 Boarding Housemistress and Head of Spanish. From day one, she was part of Merriman House. In 2002, she became Merriman Housemistress. She loves reading, going to the theatre, walking by the sea and travel.

Dr Elodie Nevin - Head of German, BA Oxon, GTP (French & German)
Dr Nevin trained as a teacher at St Catherine’s, having worked in the city for a couple years following her undergraduate degree. She is passionate about the value of language and literature, achieving her PhD in gender identity in fiction by German women in the nineteenth century.

Mrs Catherine Peel - Head of French MA Oxon, PGCE King’s London ( French and German)
Studied French, German and Spanish at school, then French and German at Oxford. She has also taught TEFL, and lived in Vienna and Paris. After a PGCE in London, she has taught French, German (and sometimes Spanish too) in a variety of schools in London and Surrey, and been Head of Department three times. She has also worked as a marker and moderator for exam boards. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her family and dogs, read and travel.

Curriculum - AS/A Level


Why study a foreign language?

Studying a foreign language and the people who speak it will:

  • give you skills and experiences that will expand your horizons for the rest of your life;
  • give you an advantage over others in an increasingly globalised labour market and open up career opportunities in Europe and beyond;
  • help you to understand the motives, politics and culture of countries that are vital to the future of the UK, especially in the EU;
  • teach you to look at the world through the eyes of others;
  • develop important and highly transportable skills of analysis, debate and independent thought.        

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that studying a foreign language (or two!) is just for those who want to teach or translate. There is a vast array of university courses, with languages as your main focus or combined with other subjects such as a social science, many of which include a year abroad studying or working.  Career opportunities abound in diverse fields, particularly in business, marketing, tourism, events management and with NGOs.

Just think how much more confident a communicator you would be – and how much more of an asset to your future employer - if you weren’t tongue-tied every time you left Heathrow!


Examination Board: AQA

Sample Papers & Specification
Head of Department: Mrs Catherine Peel

Why study French?

Here are our top 10 reasons to study French:

  1. You will fall in love with the subject.
  2. English is not enough! It's really important that you learn to speak and understand other people no matter where they are from.
  3. You can travel to new places all around the world. French is the official language in 29 countries: Monaco, Gabon, Canada, Switzerland, Senegal are just a few of the many places you could visit!
  4. Over 200 million people speak French in the world, making it the 10th most spoken language worldwide.
  5. Speaking French really makes you stand out from the crowd, especially in a globalised European market.
  6. Learning a French can help you understand your own language and make it easier to learn others. Have you ever thought of the meaning of “Honi soit qui mal y pense” and “Dieu et mon droit”?
  7. You develop 4 key skills when learning French: listening, reading, speaking and writing.
  8. You'll have fun learning about a wide range of topics from shopping, to sport, to food and entertainment.
  9. Speaking more than one language increases your brain capacity and you have better memory too.
  10. It’s an impressive achievement to speak a foreign language and you'll have better options for your future!”

Be an entrepreneur or an agent provocateur, read Sartre in Montmartre or eat gâteau in a chateau. We offer entente cordiale and many a grand prix. There may be some déjà vu but you will be always bienvenue!

Course Content

Year 1: Aspects of society and Artistic Culture and the study of a film (La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz)
Year 2: Aspects of political life and current issues in society and the study of a book (Un sac de billes by Joseph Joffo)


AS Level:
Paper 1: Listening/Reading/Writing 1h 45mins
Paper 2: Writing 1h 30mins
Paper 3: Oral 30 mins (teacher examined)

A Level: 
Paper 1: Listening/Reading/Writing 2h 30mins
Paper 2: Writing 2 hrs
Paper 3: Oral 30 mins (teacher examined)


Examination Board: AQA

Sample Papers & Specification
Head of Department: Dr Elodie Nevin

Why study German?

  • German is the most widely spoken language in all of Europe
  • Germany has the third strongest economy in the world
  • German is the language of inventors and innovators, poets and scientists; whatever your academic interest, Germans are at the forefront of research 
  • Because fewer students in the UK are studying German, choosing it at A-Level will make you stand out 

Course Content

AS Level: Aspects of society and Artistic Culture and the study of a film (Das Leben der Anderen by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
A Level: Aspects of political life and current issues in society and the study of a book (Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink)


AS Level:
Paper 1: Listening/Reading/Writing 1h 45mins
Paper 2: Writing 1 hour 30mins
Paper 3: Oral 30 mins (teacher examined)

A Level: 
Paper 1: Listening/Reading/Writing 2h 30mins
Paper: 2 Writing 2 hours
Paper 3: Oral 30 mins (teacher examined)


Examination Board: AQA

Sample Papers & Specification
Head of Department: Ms Vicky Diprose

Why study Spanish?

If you have a talent for languages, you might want to join the 400 million Spanish speakers in the world as it is the second most widely-spoken language. It is also one of the most spoken languages in Europe.

A knowledge of Spanish and an understanding of Hispanic culture opens many doors.  Just think how much more confident a communicator you would be as you head off for a holiday job in Tenerife, fly out for your gap year in Argentina or embark on your first job in Madrid.

Course Content

Year 1:  Aspects of Hispanic society, Artistic Culture and the study of a film (Volver by Pedro Almodóvar) 
Year 2: Aspects of political life and current issues in society and the study of a book (La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca)


AS Level:
Paper 1: Listening/Reading/Writing 1h 45mins
Paper 2: Writing 1h 30mins
Paper 3: Oral 30 mins (teacher examined)

A Level: 
Paper 1: Listening/Reading/Writing 2h 30mins
Paper: 2 Writing 2 hrs
Paper 3: Oral 30 mins (teacher examined)

Curriculum - IGCSE

Please click on the links below for full details of the IGCSE Modern Foreign Languages syllabus.

IGCSE Topics List


SpecificationOverview of IGCSE French


SpecificationOverview of IGCSE German


SpecificationOverview of IGCSE Spanish

Curriculum - KS3

KS3 MFL Lesson Topics 

  • All U3 girls study French, German and Spanish. For each language, there are 2 lessons of 30 minutes each a week.
  • In L4 and U4, all girls drop a language and carry on with 3 lessons of 30 minutes each a week for each of the two languages they keep.
  • Every term, all girls spend some time in the language laboratory for listening and ICT activities. Outside of those laboratories, iPads and exercises from the Internet are regularly used to reinforce and practise grammar and vocabulary studied in class.

Homework is set to reinforce and develop the work covered in class. It may be set as a written exercise or as learning.

The weekly homework requirements are as follows:

  • U3: 1 x 20 minutes .
  • L4: 2 x 20-30 minutes
  • U4: 2 x 30 minutes

Additional Languages

A girl who has a foreign language as their mother tongue may take a public examination at the recommended level, either GCSE, AS or A level, in the summer of L5 or later by agreement with the Director of Studies and the Head of Additional Languages. Parents should note that if taken more than four years prior to the usual sitting of A Levels in U6th, then the exam may not be “counted” by some universities.

Contact: Mrs Vicky Diprose 

Field Trips and Visits

Annual Trips

L5 Activities Week (July) Saint-Malo, France

Au revoir Rouen, bonjour Saint-Malo! L5 French students travel to Brittany for Activities Week. Students get the chance to practise their language skills by staying in host families and attending language classes. In the afternoons, they partake in a range of activities such as – but not limited to – a visit to the city’s aquarium, a falconry show at La Bourbansais’ zoo and castle, some sightseeing at Mont Saint Michel, a photo competition, and some lovely walks in the historical cities of Honfleur and Dinard. 

L5 Activities Week (July) Salamanca, Spain

Salamanca is home to the purest form of Castilian Spanish. Students get the chance to practise their language skills by staying in host families in and around the historic city centre and attending language classes, cooking workshops, photo competitions in town and the farewell party! In addition, there are guided tours of Salamanca and Segovia, where we visit all the main sights. Finally, no trip would be complete without time to browse in the shops and sample the local tapas.

L5 Activities Week (July) Berlin, German

During Activities week our L5 Germanists go to Berlin for a week of culture and linguistic immersion. They stay with host families and attend a language school, allowing them to practise their spoken German. We visit a number of important historical and cultural places, including the Reichstag, the Jewish Museum, the Holocaust Memorial and the Berliner Dom (the Berlin Cathedral). Highlights of the trip also include Potsdamer Platz, the Fernsehturm, the Berliner Zoo, the Tiergarten, Charlottenburg Palace and the East Side Gallery. The trip is always hugely successful and inspires our students in their study of German.

Bi-Annual Trips

Sixth form Spanish trip to Valencia - 2019-20

We are continuing to run our 6th form immersion trip to Valencia, Spain’s third largest city. Students get to practice their language intensively at the Taronja School and soak up the culture with their host family. Situated on the east coast, Valencia is Spain's third largest city with just over one million inhabitants. Vibrant, innovative and authentically Spanish, the city has plenty to offer and is also the birthplace of paella!  Host families are located within a short walking distance of the school. Taronja School is fully accredited by Instituto Cervantes in recognition of academic excellence and all of the school’s teachers are experienced professionals with a degree in Spanish philology as a minimum. There are visits to “Oceanographic”, the Science and Fallas museums and the 3D cinema, a tour of the old town and one of Europe’s largest covered markets, including climbing the bell tower, a paella party, a coastal walk and a cookery class, not to mention popping out to the variety of tapas restaurants near the school at lunchtime.

Sixth form French trip to Antibes - 2018-19

A new total immersion French language trip! 16 of the L6 and U6 French students spent the October half-term week in Antibes, living with French families, attending language classes and enjoying a range of cultural activities. Highlights included trips to Nice, Cannes and Monaco, and an afternoon spent with a charity in Antibes entertaining a large group of elderly people. At the end of the week everyone’s language skills were assessed and all the girls were given certificates with their CECRL level.

4th Form Rhineland trip - 2018-2019

For many students this is the first exposure to Germany itself and it invariably proves a huge motivation to learn the language effectively and actively. During the weekend, students visit Bramley’s twin town of Rhens, situated south of Koblenz and get to know some of the people who live there. Groups have been hosted lavishly in the past, enjoying an amazing barbecue and a chance to talk to teenagers in German. They have also toured the town and answered a questionnaire in German about it, shopped in Koblenz, taken a boat trip down the River Rhine, sampled various ice cream flavours (the weather has always been fantastic), visited two castles, and much more.

Special Events

In November, Sixth Form French students went to Reed’s School to take part in a speed debating session. They discussed AS and A level topics with Reed’s and Tormead, and it was great revision for their speaking exam. 

There were questions on topics such as the evolution of families and the importance of francophone music, which we discussed with different partners every two minutes.

Reading Lists



  • Colette / Le Blé en Herbe
  • Deforges / La Bicyclette Bleue
  • Fournier, Alain / Le Grand Meaulnes
  • Maupassant / Boule de Suif
  • Mauriac / Thérése Desqueyroux
  • Pagnol / La Gloire de Mon Pére
  • Sagan / Bonjour Tristesse
  • Sartre / Les Mains Sales
  • Simenon / Maigret

Non Fiction

  • Mermet, Gérard / Francoscopie 2003 (Larousse)

Newspapers and Magazines

  • Le Figaro
  • Le Nouvel Observateur
  • Paris-Match
  • Elle


Reading books in German is an excellent way of getting to know German, Austrian and Swiss culture while improving your grasp of the language. There is a range of literature in St. Catherine’s library, including: Märchen by the Brüder Grimm, novels by the nineteenth-century writer Theodor Fontane, short stories by the twentieth-century writers Thomas Mann and Heinrich Böll and poetry readers that provide an introduction to a range of ‘Dichter.’ There are also a range of modern novellas and novels which give insight into German-speakers today.

We recommend all the books from the German section of the library. They provide an excellent opportunity to learn the language in an enjoyable way. Our easy readers are clearly labelled and should appeal to all beginners. ‘A’ readers are for beginners, whilst C and D readers are aimed at those with an extensive vocabulary.

We also have a number of German books, some of which are listed below.


  • Max Frisch, Biedermann und die Brandstifter | Nun singen sie wieder | Andorra
  • Heinrich von Kleist, Der zerbrochene Krug
  • Wolfgang Borchert, Draussen vor der Tür
  • Bertoldt Brecht, Der gute Mensch von Sezuan | Mutter Courage
  • Friedrich Durrenmatt: Der Besuch | Die Physiker


  • Judith Kerr, Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl
  • Stefan Zweig, Brennendes Geheimnis
  • Franz Kafka, Das Schloss
  • Thomas Mann, Der Tod in Venedig | Buddenbrooks
  • Theodor Storm, Der Schimmelreiter
  • Christa Wolf, Der geteilte Himmel | Kassandra | Nachdenken über Christa T.
  • Erich Kästner, Die Konferenz der Tiere
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers
  • Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Langstrumpf
  • Theodor Fontante, Effi Briest
  • Hans Fallada, Erzählungen


  • Erich Kästner, Emil und die Detektive | First German reader: a beginner’s dual-language book


Middle School & Senior School - Borrow from the school library and ask your teacher about the Spanish department story collection.

A Level students: 

If you want to learn about Spanish OR South American literature, you could read the following books:


  • Ghosts of Spain
  • The New Spaniards
  • The Spanish Civil War A Very Short Introduction
  • Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
  • Slow Train to Guantanamo
  • The Penguin History of Latin America



  • Penguin Cuentos en Espanol: Spanish short stories
  • The Penguin Book of Spanish Verse

Specific Works:

  • Federico García Lorca La casa de Bernarda Alba
  • Gabriel García Márquez Crónica de una muerte anunciada
  • Laura Esquivel Como agua para chocolate
  • Ramón J. Sender Réquiem por un campesino español
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón La sombra del viento
  • Isabel Allende La casa de los espíritus
  • Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer Rimas
  • Fernando Fernán-Gómez Las bicicletas son para el verano
  • Luis de Castresana El otro árbol de Guernica
  • Gabriel García Márquez El coronel no tiene quien le escriba


  • El laberinto del fauno Guillermo del Toro (2006)
  • • Ocho apellidos vascos Emilio Martínez-Lázaro (2014)
  • • María, llena eres de gracia Joshua Marston (2004)
  • • Volver Pedro Almodóvar (2006)
  • • Abel Diego Luna (2010)
  • • Las 13 rosas Emilio Martínez-Lázaro (2007)

Website Links




Recommended websites for all students:

  1. (all higher level activities)
  2. (Log in: stcatsmfl password: student) any INTERMEDIATE activity. Watch the role play before completing the tasks.
  4. (Complete the Spanish test, have a look at the REPORTAJES section – there are lots of good reading comprehensions there on a variety of topics, watch Mi Vida Loca.
  5. - (great for quizzes)
  6. (very good for conjugating verbs)
  7. (general language website)

In addition, for A Level students: