Header Image 1


Every student at Varndean has the opportunity to  benefit greatly from learning new languages. The transferable skills learned and honed during language lessons at Varndean will open doors to new experiences, cultures and have a positive impact on a student's career prospects.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.


Why Study this Subject?

Communication skills are vital and a skill students work on throughout their time studying with us and will be highly beneficial later on in their education and career. Reading, listening, speaking and writing form the four major skills in language learning and these are all honed and assessed in every year group. Language students leave Varndean School equipped with a desire and ability to be creative with language, improved job prospects and a deep and rich understanding of other cultures and the wider world. They are truly open-minded world citizens.

Topics of Study and Assignments

Year 7:

  • All students will study both French & Spanish. German will be offered as part of Enrichment in Specialist Schools.
  • Students will cover topics such as family and friends, hobbies, their homes and local area, school and education
  • Assessments will include speaking assessments in the form of role-play, pair dialogue along with various writing, reading and listening assessments.

 Year 8: 

  • All students will study both French & Spanish.
  • At the end of the year, all students will choose their GCSE Language
  • Some students may choose to study both at GCSE level
  • Students will be able to choose to study German as a beginner.

Year 9:


Years 10 and 11:

  • Following the AQA scheme of learning, our range of topics include travel & tourism, school, work, future plans, technologies and global and social issues.
  • Writing, speaking and reading and listening exams are completed at the end of Year 11

The Team

Susanna York, Head of Languages.

Suzanne Bryant, Languages Teacher - My first language love was Spanish. I learned French at high school, but it was finding myself in Central America that sparked my passion for the Latinx culture and the Spanish language. Although I spent mornings learning Spanish with my friends, it was when I lived with a 'tica' (Costa Rican) family that my Spanish came on leaps and bounds. I then used my Spanish daily to travel, find lodgings and go to restaurants and cafés for 3 months. When I returned to Europe, I discovered a love of French and again took on lots of independent learning. When I was living in the Alps, all my friends were up the ski slops and I was in my element working through French grammar books in my hotel room! I finally realised my dream of becoming a Languages Teacher when I embarked on my Key Stage 3 & 4 Undergraduate Degree, 20 years after leaving education.

Stacey Corken, Languages Teacher - As a young person I developed my interest in different languages and cultures through an obsession with films, as well as studying French and German at school. Nothing improves your language skills or confidence more than actually going abroad for as many immersive experiences as possible. Therefore, during my A-Levels I got a job as a babysitter at Val d'Isere and was an au pair near Bordeaux. These experiences really helped me begin to be fluent in French. At university, I studied French & Social Anthropology and spent a year as an English Languages Assistant in France teaching 9-16 year-olds. This was one of the best years EVER as I became truly fluent in French. I enjoyed this so much that I went back after graduating to work with trainee teachers at the University of Ariege. Before becoming a teacher myself, I completed my Masters in International Cinema, lived and worked in the Netherlands for a few years, learnt Dutch, and continued to study Spanish and Italian. I take every opportunity I can to develop my knowledge of languages; any opportunity to jump on a train to somewhere interesting, and I am there! I encourage all of our students to just go for it; to immerse themselves regularly in all things related to the language they are studying, to be open to new experiences and not to worry about making mistakes. But most importantly, travel! And don't forget to send me a postcard! 

Kate Duncan, Languages Teacher.

Barbara Howard, Languages Teacher - From a very young age, I was exposed to the German languages as both of my parents were born in Vienna. Therefore, they would speak to me in both English and German. I also spent most of my summers with my family in Austria and I loved being part of a different culture. Consequently, I am bilingual, and I have always been thankful for this skill and the advantages I have had. I still believe it is a privilege that sparked my fascination of foreign languages.

Having spent lots of holidays as an adult in France, I decided to go back to learning French independently. This in turn compelled me to continue with my love of languages, and so I studied Spanish.

Throughout my working life, I truly believe that being able to speak other languages helped me on my career path. I did part of my degree in Germany and whilst studying there, I worked as a waitress for 6 months. I also worked as a receptionist for an advertising company in London, where my language skills were also put to use. Finally, I have spent the last 30 years teaching languages to young people and I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge with them and watching their confidence and skills grow.

Lorraine Newman, Languages Teacher - After studying French at school, I couldn't wait to study Spanish at college. From there, I went to the University of Brighton to study French and Russian. My love of languages has opened the world to me. I have a house in France and I spend a lot of time exploring French and Spanish-speaking countries. The most important part of learning languages is seeing a purpose and for me, travelling to that country gives me that purpose. Teaching languages has to include trips to those countries. Bringing culture into the classroom through trips, songs & food is how I motivate and engage my students.

James Waite, Assistant Head of Languages - My love of languages started young. During high school, I started learning both French and German and continued these throughout college before finally completing my Languages BA at Nottingham Trent University. It was here that I also started to learn Spanish and spent a year abroad in France, Germany and Spain. After completing my degree, I took a break from studying to gain experience in the world of work. During this time, I completed various roles abroad including being a holiday rep in Tenerife and a hotel entertainer in Mallorca. I was always one of the only English foreign language speakers and I felt proud to fully immerse myself in the countries I was living in. 

After that, I worked as an International Air Steward for Virgin Atlantic and was again able to practise my languages all over the world. This job took me all over the world from Jamaica to Japan, from South Africa to India and not forgetting Cuba! Knowing languages and having the confidence to communicate to people from all walks of life really helped improve the quality of my life. It has given me a range of unique experiences that I certainly would not have gained had it not been for my ability to communicate in foreign languages. I have been working as a teacher now for over 10 years and I love it. For me, being able to share my passion and have the chance to encourage our students to travel and learn languages is both rewarding and incredibly important. The sky is the limit when you learn a language!

Events and Activities

See below for examples of activities we have provided previously. 

Year 7 Languages Song competition
National Dishes Cookery Competition
Poetry Competition for All Years
Years 7 – 9 Spelling & Translation Bees
Year 8 Trip to France
Weekend trips to Malaga and Nice
Year 9 Trip to Opal Coast, France (Enrichment Week)
Year 9 & 10 Trip to Rhine Valley, Germany (Enrichment Week)
Year 10 Trip to Salamanca, Spain (Enrichment Week)
Visits from International students to Varndean School
Visits from Languages students at BHASVIC
Language Club fundraisers and activities