Modern Foreign Languages & Classics

In an increasingly interconnected society, it is important that students are able to communicate in languages other than their native tongue.


Study of the classical world gives you an invigorating insight into the world today. The appeal of Classics is in the variety of disciplines it involves: linguistic explorations of Latin and Greek, History, Geography, Art and Social Studies.

Brentwood’s Classics Department is one of the largest in the country. We do all kinds of activities in lessons and outside lessons, we are active too, providing our students with a sociable as well as intellectually enriching experience.

Greek is the language of philosophy, medicine and science – the impact of this language can still be seen in English and other modern European languages. Students can choose to study Greek from Year 9, and continue up to GCSE, A Level and IB, where they will see the ancient world through the eyes of the Greeks. 

"I feel that Greek is a unique challenge which pushes me in ways I didn't expect, and I've enjoyed how different it is to studying other languages."

Latin is the language of the Ancient Romans, the language which provided an important foundation for many modern European languages, including English. Latin is taught from Year 7 onwards to GCSE, A Level and IB. Choosing IB and A Level Latin allows our students to study both the most important ancient language and its incredible literature in great detail.

Classical Civilisation is the study of Greek and Roman literature, history, and culture, with no knowledge of Latin or Greek required. These two civilisations had a rich literary and artistic tradition and left a full and fascinating archaeological record, and the GCSE and A Level courses allow students to explore two different topics in great depth.

With our state-of-the-art facilities in the Cunliffe building, we are able to complement the traditional teaching methods, which have proven so effective in the delivery of ancient languages with the innovative approach afforded to us by the latest technology.


The Chinese language is one of the most ancient languages in the world spoken consistently, for thousands of years. Mandarin (官话; pinyin: Guānhuà; literally: "speech of officials") is the most commonly used dialect of the Chinese language. With a rich history and fast economic growth, studying Chinese at Brentwood could provide opportunities for worldwide employment.

We offer Chinese from Year 7 to Sixth Form to students with little or no prior experience of the language and seek to develop intercultural understanding, encouraging a respect for other people. We believe that the use of a realistic amount of Chinese in the classroom is essential in helping students become familiar with the language and encouraging them to respond in the target language. Lessons focus upon introducing new vocabulary, grammatical structures and providing opportunities for students to practise using them in their own written and spoken language as well as recognising them in other contexts. Trips to Chinatown (Central London) and Beijing, the heart of China help develop language skills and enrich the cultural learning experience. 

Studying Chinese not only equips students with the linguistic skills to communicate in another language but also aims to promote an awareness and appreciation of the cultures of the different Chinese-speaking countries and areas and will equip you with invaluable transferable skills which are well-regarded by universities and employers alike.


French is known throughout history as the language of chivalry, economics, diplomacy and love and is spoken by almost 60 million citizens of continental France with over 200 hundred million more French speakers in Europe, North and South America, Africa and the Pacific. France has a unique history of literary wealth and influence and our students have taken a great interest in learning about the French way of life and its rich cultural background.

"It has been fascinating to immerse myself in French culture, and the opportunity to study French novels, films and music has allowed me to strengthen my writing, speaking and appreciation for French."

Studying French not only equips students with the linguistic skills to communicate in the language of our nearest neighbour but also promotes an awareness and appreciation of the cultures of the different Francophone countries.

Flickr album: Year 7 & 8 Languages Trip to France & Belgium | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin

"I would definitely recommend the French trip because it was a great way to experience France and its culture. You get to meet new people and try new delicacies. You also get to spend time with friends making it fun and educational."

Rashida, Year 7 Student

At Brentwood, all students learn French and explore the language from the First Year. Watch some of our Year 7s consolidate their knowledge of French verbs in the infinitive form with their rendition of "Ça C'est Ma Vie" (This Is My Life) - their pronunciation is spot on!

Students will build on their French skills and knowledge to reach a level where they can communicate effectively in all kinds of situations in the French-speaking world, as well as practical language skills based on topic areas related to everyday situations. They will gain familiarity with how French culture has enriched human society and, explore similarities with and differences from their own cultures, acquiring an internationalist perspective that is so essential in an interconnected world.

Many of our students continue learning French into Sixth Form. Both the A Level and the IB routes are tailored to specific cultural, literary and cinematic interests and offer all linguists a rich, scenic pathway into university studies.


Studying German not only equips students with the linguistic skills to communicate in another language but also aims to promote an awareness and appreciation of the cultures of different German-speaking countries.

German has delighted, inspired and surprised the intrepid students at Brentwood who have embarked upon it. They invariably attest: German is not difficult, just different. Its structure has elegance and logic which appeals to the scientist, yet it also holds the ability to conjure up wonderful images to inspire creativity. The fact is, German is very akin to English - which derives from it - and our examination results at all levels indicate that students cope very well indeed with its challenges. 

Watch the video below for a great example of First Year languages at Brentwood!

"The German A Level course has enabled me to communicate confidently in written and spoken German. I have learnt many valuable skills that I will be able to use in my future career."

Every year, the German Department runs popular trips to Cologne for KS3, and to Munich or Berlin for KS4 and KS5. These trips are an ideal opportunity to experience German culture, practise the language and get to know all aspects of Germany, from History, to Art, to Science and beyond.

Studying German fosters an understanding and appreciation of the people, turbulent history, landscapes and genius that lie behind it. It is no surprise that such a rich culture and multi-dimensional language offers an intriguing insight to all students, no matter what their interests might be. 


The Italian language is renowned for its fluency and style; Italians express themselves with a passion and pride that is evident in their everyday living. At Brentwood, we teach the fundamentals of the Italian language via grammar and vocabulary - but we do more than that. We open up our students to the influences of Italian culture throughout the world.

"I have enjoyed learning about Italian culture and our in-depth study of Italian festivals because I have completed independent research in a foreign language whilst learning about foreign traditions."

Italian is offered as a beginners' course in Year 9, where no previous knowledge of the language is required. We then offer IGCSE Italian and an IB Italian Ab Initio course in Sixth Form, designed for students with little or no prior experience of the language seeking to develop intercultural understanding.


Learning Spanish at Brentwood enables students to discover a rich, cultural heritage, while simultaneously learning to communicate with over 500 million people worldwide. Spanish is one of the widest spoken languages today, in fourth position after Mandarin, English and Hindi. It is also the official language on four continents - and given the fast rate of growth in the US and elsewhere, learning Spanish is a smart choice for students today seeking international career opportunities.

At Brentwood, Spanish is a language option from Year 7. The Key Stage 3 Spanish curriculum aims to equip students with the vocabulary and grammar necessary to communicate on a basic level with Spanish speakers. It also provides the foundation for the more complex topics and grammar which will be studied as part of the IGCSE course in the upper school.

"I have enjoyed IGCSE Spanish as I feel more confident in using the language spontaneously and I like learning about different cultures."

Our KS3 trip to Gredos and Sixth Form study visit to Santiago de la Compostela bring to life the Spanish learning experience and provide a strong foundation for those who want to study the language at IGCSE or beyond A Level or the International Baccalaureate programme.

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