Subject Overview

Students at Durham Johnston study at least one language up to the end of year 9. Most take two languages and some choose three in year 8 and 9.  Most students then choose to continue at least one language to GCSE level. This gives our young people a considerable advantage in their future careers. The global twenty-first century demands high levels of linguistic ability and we, at Durham Johnston, recognise this and embrace language study. We are a vibrant department which is totally committed to our subjects. We are very keen on technology and all lessons are based around the interactive whiteboard. Languages on offer are French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. In addition to our modern foreign languages, we are one of the few schools to offer Latin. Master classes are offered at lunch time in German, Spanish and Mandarin for those students who wish to learn a third language at Key Stage 3.

Languages at KS3

In year 7 students study French for two lessons per week throughout the year. In addition, they have one lesson per week of a second modern foreign language (German, Spanish and Mandarin) on a rolling programme of one term each. This means that by the end of year 7 all students have basic skills in 4 languages together with an insight into the culture and customs of the countries where these languages are spoken. In year 7 languages are taught in form groups and in sets from year 8 onwards. Most students choose to study two languages in years 8 and 9.

Year 7


  • School
  • Sports
  • Where I live

Second Language:

Taster sessions in:

  • German
  • Mandarin
  • Spanish

Year 8


  • Transport
  • Daily routine
  • Family


  • Family
  • Home and local area
  • Daily routine
  • School
  • Holidays


  • Describing people
  • Countries and nationalities
  • House and home
  • Daily routine
  • In town
  • Weather


Cambridge Latin Course Book 1 & Book 2 (Stages 1-16):

  • Roman Civilisation topics: Daily life in Pompeii, Roman houses, slavery, entertainment, elections, education & the eruption of Vesuvius. Roman Britain & Fishbourne Palace.
  • Language topics: Nominative, accusative & dative cases; present, imperfect & perfect tenses. Infinitives, relative pronouns & pluperfect tense.
Mandarin Jin Bu Mandarin Course
Autumn Term

Structure of characters
Pin Yin and tones
Measure words
Family, friends, pets

Spring Term

Date and time

Summer Term

Food and drink

Year 9


  • Clothes and Shopping
  • Health
  • House & Home


  • Freetime
  • Media
  • Clothes
  • Food and Shopping
  • Health
  • Jobs


  • Health and well-being
  • School and leisure
  • Holidays


Cambridge Latin Course Book 2 & Book 3 (Stages 17 - 25):

  • Roman Civilisation topics: Roman Egypt, religion, science & medicine. Roman Bath, Chester & the army.
  • Language topics: genitive & ablative cases, pronouns, present participles. Past participles & subjunctives.
Mandarin  Jin Bu Mandarin Course
Autumn Term Holidays
All about me
Spring Term

House and home

Summer Term



Courses taught at KS4


Course content

They will study the following themes:

Theme 1: Identity and Culture

Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest

Theme 3: Current and future study and employment


Students are examined at the end of the 2 year course in all 4 skills:  listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Each skill is equally weighted and so is 25% of the final mark.

GCSE marks 1-9 will apply, with 9 being the highest level.

Further details of both the course content and the assessments can be found at:


Course Content

The GCSE course includes

  • Language – mainly translating Latin into English, but with some English to Latin translation. We continue with the Cambridge Latin Course in Y10, moving to other resources in preparation for GCSE in Y11
  • Literature - studying a selection of unadapted Latin texts on a linking theme, e.g. A Day at the Races or Youth & Education.
  • Civilisation – studying a topic such as Roman Entertainment or Roman Religion, based on primary source material.


Students are examined at the end of the 2 year course with a separate paper on each aspect of the course:

  • Language = 50%
  • Literature = 30%
  • Civilisation = 20%

Further details of the exam specification can be found at:

Courses taught at A-Level

We follow the AQA course of study at ‘A’ level. There is a minimum course requirement of grade 6 at GCSE.

Students study contemporary issues and make rapid progress in self-expression and fluency. We have good numbers of students at ‘A’ level which means that our students have a real opportunity to communicate in the language. We have native or bilingual speakers who teach the language and help students develop their oral fluency.

Advanced Level courses in languages enable students to develop and build on skills acquired at GCSE: listening, speaking, reading and writing.The 'A' Level course provides a logical progression from GCSE.

‘A’ Level students study grammatical structures of the language throughout the course so that they can acquire knowledge, skills and understanding for practical use. The Advanced Level qualification enhances employment prospects, facilitates foreign travel, offers an insight into another culture and society and provides students with a sound basis for further study.

Themes studied in Year 12 are:

  • Social issues and trends
  • Artistic culture
  • A literary text or film

Themes studied in Year 13 are:

  • Social issues and trends
  • Artistic culture
  • A literary text
  • Independent Research Project

The course encourages students to develop an interest in and an enthusiasm for language learning. Students develop an awareness and understanding of contemporary society and learn how to communicate confidently, clearly and effectively in their chosen language. The courses aim to enable students to take their place in a multilingual global society. Learning is focussed on all countries where the target language is spoken.

Further details of both the course content and the assessments can be found at:

Career Opportunities

Languages can lead directly to a career in translation, interpretation or teaching but can be an advantage in any area of work where there is a need to deal effectively with people or companies beyond our own borders (Law, Accountancy, Engineering and many more). Many degree courses now include a language element, especially in the areas of Law, Business and Science. A language qualification in the global twenty-first century is a real asset and enhances job applications and future employment prospects. Universities look favourably on applicants who have language qualifications whatever their planned course of study may be.


Languages at Durham Johnston is a thriving environment in which students not only learn language skills but are afforded many enrichment opportunities. As a result of our commitment to language enrichment, we currently hold the International Schools Award and are dedicated to maintaining and expanding the opportunities we offer.

Currently, we strive to offer students across the key stages, opportunities to travel to France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Austria. Last year, we ran a successful French exchange project with a school in Morez and hope to maintain this link for our GCSE students.

We also encourage students to better understand culture and the world around them. Within school, we celebrate European Day of Languages, work with Durham Chinese School to host an annual Chinese New Year event and regularly enter our students into a number of language events including Euroscola at The Hague and many at Durham and Newcastle University. We are always searching for new and innovative opportunities for students to help them develop into global citizens.

Month Activity

Staff out

Enrichment Activities  

September 2018

Study Visit

German KS3

JSW Enrichment Activities European day of languages (26/9)
October 2018

Study Visit





Enrichment Activities  
November 2018     Enrichment Activities  
December 2018     Enrichment Activities  
January 2019     Enrichment Activities  
February 2019


Year 10

SV Enrichment Activities  

March 2019

    Enrichment Activities Euroscola

April 2019

Study Visit Spanish


(2019 only)

FBA Enrichment Activities

Spanish literature A2

Durham University event –Literature

May 2019

Study Visit




Enrichment Activities  
June 2019

Study Visit


Study Visit




Enrichment Activities


Year 10

Language Apprentice Durham University-

July 2019

Study Visit

Paris Yr 12 French and History

Study Visit

KS5 Madrid

(From 2020)




Enrichment Activities

Well being week:

Languages Apprentice @DJS