Modern Foreign Languages

French and Spanish are the two core languages taught at Royal Russell from Year 7 onwards and German is taught in Year 9 for the newcomers’ set as well as pupils who have never studied Spanish.  All three languages are studied at GCSE and A level.

The teaching is largely communicative, aiming at both enjoyment and a high degree of oral and written competence.  All pupils are required to take at least one Modern Language to GCSE level, but good linguists keep both.  Pupils who are extremely advanced in the language have the opportunity to take the examination early and one-to-one sessions take place with the language assistants.


By the end of Year 9, most pupils have been studying French, Spanish and German (for some) for three or more years.  All current Year 9 pupils will be required to take at least one Modern Foreign Language to IGCSE level from French, Spanish and German or a combination of the three. The more languages a pupil is able to speak, the more prepared they are for their future prosperity and global standing.

However, the choice must be based on existing performance and a realistic view of future potential, a decision best reached in close consultation with the French, Spanish and German teachers concerned.  All pupils in Year 9 will be assessed in three skills. This should give pupils a strong indication regarding their ability and an opportunity to compare their language skills.

Please click here to find out more about our IGCSE option.

A Level

In an increasingly globalised world, the ability to demonstrate competence in a foreign language is a valuable asset. The Department offers French, Spanish and German at A level.

Many degree courses across a spectrum of subjects may include one or more foreign languages. Some universities will even request a language GCSE as an entrance requirement (eg UCL).

Please click here to find out more about our A level course.

Trips and Activities

  • French and Spanish plays to Years 7 to 10
  • Day trip to Boulogne for Year 7 pupils
  • Year 7 residential trip to Paris, France
  • Year 8 residential trip to Bilbao, Spain
  • Spanish Exchange for Years 8 and 10 with a school in Zaragoza, Spain
  • Year 9 to 11 French Exchange to Orléans, Cours St Charles School
  • Sixth Form French Exchange to Orléans

Departmental Features 

  • One-to-one sessions with French or Spanish assistants for A level and early GCSE
  • Twenty-four station multimedia digital language laboratory
  • Subscription to current affairs magazines in multiple languages in the Library
  • Small classes and ability sets
  • Early GCSE possible and offered
  • Early A level for high achievers
  • IGCSE French and Spanish for all pupils
  • Mandarin lessons available after school




Spanish Exchange Students Visit Royal Russell

Last Tuesday we welcomed our Spanish exchange students. All the students were happy to see each other again after our visit to their school in April this year.

After a warm welcome by our RRS families, they all went home to have their first English evening experience. Both Wednesday and Thursday were spent at school, where the Spanish students had the opportunity to shadow their Royal Russell partners and take part in busy school days at our school. They all loved their days with us and really enjoyed being part of the Royal Russell community, especially the food and the great facilities.

Friday saw us all going to Brighton for the day. It was the first time for many of them and they really enjoyed visiting the lanes and the Pavilion as well as the Pier! The weekend was packed with a full programme of experiences for all of the Spanish and Royal Russell students. Our host families prepared (yet again!) a great range of activities for them all such as going to London, visiting Thorpe Park, and even going to Harry Potter World.

On Monday the Spanish students and Mr Plano spent their day at Hampton Court and Wimbledon just before enjoying their last night in the UK.

Sadly, on Tuesday morning the Spanish students left. Lots of photos were taken and many promises to see each other again were made.

All in all, a great experience had by one and all. I am ever so grateful to our amazing host families (and especially those who hosted only) who made this such a lovely and unforgettable experience for the students.
Mil gracias!


Year 11 Spanish Tapas Evening

On the last day before study leave began, and 11 days  before our Spanish GCSE, Year 11 Spanish students (minus the basketball players) headed to La Galicia in South Croydon to enjoy a well deserved Spanish meal.

Needless to say that in the heart of Croydon we weren’t treated to the blazing sun of Madrid or the clean air of the Basque country, but the food was truly authentic. Pitted against a menu written in full Spanish (ignore the English translations) the students had to use their knowledge of Spanish to order their food and drink. As you can imagine the Spanish aspect of the trip was respected greatly and at no point did any of us give up and order in English.

For such a large group of people we barely had to wait for our food, which took away some of the Spanish authenticity of the experience, but was nevertheless welcome given the length of the walk to get to the restaurant. La comida (that’s food to you) comprised of traditional Spanish dishes like chorizo to more adventurous dishes like pulpo, a dish that showed clearly that some of us aren’t destined for a seafood life in Spain. Whatever happened to fish and chips? Anyway, the food was all hearty and flavourful, and thankfully they weren’t so authentically Spanish to charge us in Euros, so it definitely  didn’t burn out wallets.

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening regardless of how much Spanish we spoke (or could speak), and many will be continuing with Spanish in the future.

Lucas Year 11

Bon voyage et au revoir!

The French exchange students departed on Wednesday after spending a week in the UK.

They had a lovely week here at Royal Russell and from what I could see, did not want to go home!

I would like to thank Dhillon, Marie-Abelle, Adina, Alex, Helina, Matt, Christopher, Naria, Amber, Rebecca and their parents for their hospitality and generosity. 

It has been a great exchange programme. Many teachers from Royal Russell were so impressed with Saint Charles students and made a point to come and see me to let me know. All of the students got on really well and integrated extremely quickly in our busy life at Royal Russell.  Hopefully, students will keep in touch and will see each other again on either side of the Channel!

Merci tout le monde et à l'année prochaine!

French Exchange - Orléans

It has been another successful trip to Orléans over the Easter holidays.

The French families have been so welcoming and we are currently  welcoming 10 pupils from Cours Saint Charles as the return journey.

Russellians attended 2 days of school and went on many visits to Paris at the weekend with their host family. The chateau de Chambord was also a favourite destination to visit.

All of our students made good progress in understanding and speaking French and have overcome their inhibition. I was very proud of them!

We also went to see “La Belle et la Bête” at the cinema and ate many delicious crêpes.

Merci tout le monde pour ce voyage très sympa!

Spanish Exchange in Juan de Lanuza School (Zaragoza, Spain)

A group of 17 students from Years 8 to 10 set off to Spain to spend an unforgettable week in Zaragoza with their Spanish host families. They were all very welcomed at the airport and so their adventure began!

Our Royal Russell students had an amazing time in Zaragoza. They went to school and learned how a Spanish school works, including attending a Physics lesson in Spanish! They also tried the famous Spanish tapas, their delicious "chocolate con churros", and the copious meals.  We all enjoyed a tour around the historic sights of the city of Zaragoza, of which our favourite was definitely the basilica of El Pilar due to its grandiosity on the inside. However, the trip to the biggest shopping centre in Spain was also popular for some reason. 

The weekend was full of family tailor-made activities, such as going to the local football stadium to see their team play and buy their t-shirts, visiting the local museums, going to the city's famous theme park, going to the cinema to see The Beauty and the Beast in Spanish, etc. Monday saw the trip to the Monasterio de Piedra (Monastery of Stone) with its amazing natural waterfalls and caves and interesting history. Our last day was spent in school and also in a history museum where they learned to make figures with paper.

All in all, we had a great and lovely experience with our host families and school colleagues Juan de Lanuza School, and are very grateful to Mr Plano and the Headmistress Pilar. We are very much looking forward to welcoming them at Royal Russell School in June.

Gracias a todos y hasta pronto.


Year 9 French Crêperie Visit

On Monday, Set 4 and 5 Year 9 French with Miss Calvet, Ms Missan, Mr Major and Mrs Corcoran went to Box Park in Croydon to the Crêperie. We ordered our crêpes in French and were complimented on our pronunciation.

There were lots of toppings to choses from, such as the much loved Unicorn Poo (sprinkles) which Jack ordered! Luckily, everyone was happy with their crêpe.  We went during lunch so we wouldn’t miss any lessons. It was a very enjoyable experience.

Linguistics Olympiad

Over 75 students across the school took part in the annual Linguistics Olympiad. ln excited teams they put their best analytical skills at work to tackle the tasks.

After sorting out quickly some Italian family names, the younger students had a challenging time trying to decipher the Inuktitut characters to discover some mythical creatures, and finished off with a quick journey through some Indo-European languages. Years 10 and 11 dealt with Tshiluba (spoken in Congo) and the Basque language, which although spoken by people in the western Pyrenees, is not related to either Spanish or French, or indeed, any other language anywhere. Sixth form students had a taste of the indigenous language of New Zealand (Māori), but were really tested by the train system in Singapore: ‘Where do we get off? Need to work out the station names in Tamil!’

A lot of excitement and brain stretching. It was challenging, sometimes intense, but certainly fun to work together trying to solve these language puzzles.