Common Time 2019

Winchester College

Modern Languages

Modern Languages
The Language Laboratory
Some of the technology required for viewing satellite TV and recordings

On leaving the School all Wykehamists are expected to have the confidence and competence to communicate effectively and accurately in at least one foreign language. French, German, Russian and Spanish are taught to GCSE and to Pre-U and university entrance level. Boys who are non-native speakers may study Mandarin to GCSE, subject to numbers. Because Mandarin is a particularly difficult language in which progress tends to be slow, our policy is that boys are best advised to master the advanced skills of a European language at school, thus equipping them for successful ab initio study of Mandarin at university level. For this reason we do not offer Pre-U Mandarin.

French & German

All boys study either French or German, or both, during their first three years at Winchester. About thirty boys a year go on to study one or both of these languages in Sixth Book. About fifteen boys go on each year to study these languages at Oxford, Cambridge and other good universities.

Chinese, Spanish & Russian

In their first year, in addition to French or German, boys may study Chinese, Spanish or Russian as an additional modern foreign language. For keen linguists there is an opportunity to take up a further modern foreign language at the beginning of the second year. They take GCSE at the end of their third year. Many of them will have gone beyond the confines of the GCSE syllabus to learn more grammar and read some literature in the foreign language. The foreign press and satellite TV are used in the course as well as traditional grammar books

Literature & Culture

The Modern Languages department has a strong literary tradition. Every year a play is put on in French in the QEII theatre. Recent examples include 'Le Malade Imaginaire' and 'En Attendant Godot'. We also run play reading societies in French, German and Spanish and invite outside speakers to come and lecture on literary topics. In October 2012 Winchester was awarded the European Quality Label for the excellence of the work in the eTwinning project "Trieste, Svevo and Joyce". This award recognised the work of Dr David Ceiriog-Hughes and the boys in his Div at the highest European level. You can see the certificate here.


There is an excellent range of books in the Modern Languages section of the library. All classrooms have a data projector and a connection to the internet. There is a conversation room for conversation work in small groups, and a Tandberg digital language laboratory in which to do a variety of listening exercises.

Trips abroad

There are exchanges with schools in France, Spain and Germany. Study visits are occasionally arranged to Russia and Colombia.