St. Joseph's Catholic College






The Modern Languages Department is a department whose mission is to promote the learning and enjoyment of languages. We offer taught courses in both French and Italian and it is also possible to take a GCSE in other European languages.

We organise study trips to France and Italy as well as a year 7 day visit to Boulogne. We celebrate cultural diversity throughout our curriculum including European Day of Languages in September. Our lessons focus on communicating through a range of interactive activities all directed at achieving success in the new GCE format, including role play, translation, encouraging spontaneous speech, computer activities and games.

Learning a language is an important skill as it develops memory, reasoning and logical thinking, communication and listening skills, all of which are transferable to other subjects and activities.  In today’s ever-changing global economy, employers and governments are looking for highly skilled individuals who can communicate in a variety of languages.  People with these skills are often able to earn more than the average wage.

For many students a good GCSE languages grade opens the door to further opportunities in your chosen subject at university e.g. an Erasmus funded placement, a work experience opportunity abroad or access to overseas conferences and field work.

Finally, being able to travel abroad and meet other people and communicate with them in their own language opens up a whole new world of exciting possibilities and experiences – it can also be great fun and add to the enjoyment and thrill of travelling.

The Languages Department is located on the first floor to the left of the main entrance.


Year 7

In Year 7 all students will start off by studying French and will have the opportunity to pick up Italian in their second year at St Joseph’s. Students will have experience in the four skill areas of listening comprehension, reading comprehension, speaking and writing. The topics they study include a variety of useful skills, such as telling the time, giving directions and talking about members of their family. Students will be expected to:

  • Listen carefully to distinguish new sounds 

  • Learn vocabulary and spellings by heart 

  • Become used to looking up words that they are not familiar with 

  • Complete a number of set independent study activities over the course of the year

  • Write longer sentences and work with more accuracy

  • Use a bi-lingual dictionary

  • Improve their ability to learn vocabulary and spellings by heart

  • Start to work in the future and past tenses as well as the present.

  • Produce a certain number of set independent study activities over the course of the year as well as smaller activities set on a weekly basis

  • Lifestyle – Health

  • Relationships

  • Free Time

  •  Holidays

There is a one-day visit to France in July.

Year 8

 In Year 8 all students will continue with French in their streamed classes with Italian offered as an enrichment language after school. Students will continue to develop their four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.  In French the topics they study include eating out, shopping, school life abroad and how to use different tenses. In both languages students will be expected to communicate in the target language including making them the first language they use in the classroom.

Year 9

In Year 9 all students continue with Italian in they will continue to work in allocated bands with French offered as an enrichment language after school. They will consolidate their language skills and lessons promote linguistic independence. Students will gain a greater understanding of a range of tenses allowing pupils to progress towards a Level 8

Years 10 & 11 

In year 10 the study of languages becomes optional but it is highly recommended that students continue; a modern language contributes to the government’s EBacc which helps to leave the door open to studying at certain universities as well as helping to set students apart from others in a competitive market-place. All languages lead to the AQA GCSE at the end of Year 11 and the content for all languages is similar. Students will broadly cover the three main topic areas:


  1. Identity and culture
  2. Local, national, international and global areas of interest

  3. Current and future study and employment

All exams in the new GCSE are now terminal and students will be examined in the four main linguistic skill areas:

  • Listening 25%
  • Reading 25%
  • Writing 25%
  • Speaking 25%

The aim of the new GCSE languages specification is to increase fluency and spontaneous response so a student completing a GCSE in either French or Italian can expect to achieve a good degree of fluency in the chosen language. They will also have exposure to the culture of the country and a good grade at GCSE would allow study of that language at A Level.

For more information on the GCSE content (vocabulary lists etc.) please look at the subject specific pages on Moodle. You will also find a selection of past papers and support and revision guides.

The current year 11 Italian students however will still follow the old-style GCSE which involves controlled assessments. During their final year, year 11 students will add to the assessment that they have already completed as well as begin to prepare for their final end of year exams in reading and listening. These exams are tiered and we will consider which tier is best suited for each individual student. The break-down of their marks are as follows:

  • Listening 20%
  • Reading 20%
  • Writing 30%
  • Speaking 30%