The ability to understand and communicate in other languages is an important part of living in a diverse society. 

Languages are a lifelong skill, useful not only for pleasure, but also in business, in this increasingly global economy.


The aims of the Modern Languages Department at Clifton College are to encourage the children to communicate with confidence by providing a solid foundation of basic grammar and vocabulary; to develop an awareness of the culture and traditions of other countries; and to ensure pupils enjoy and succeed in their learning.

The main languages offered are French, German, Spanish and Mandarin.
Italian and Russian can also be studied in the Sixth Form.


In a world where international business opportunities and foreign travel are increasingly common, the study of languages has become more important than ever. French continues to be a popular language choice at Clifton, where pupils are encouraged to develop the confidence to communicate their ideas on a range of topics, in both the spoken and written word.


German is spoken by approximately 110 million people in more than forty countries. It is an official language in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and the European Union.


Mandarin Chinese is an increasingly popular language choice at Clifton College. Studying Chinese provides an insight into a rich and diverse culture, and we encourage appreciation of the history, geography, literature and traditions of the countries in which it is spoken.


Spanish is one of the world’s major languages. It is the official language of most of South and Central America, and is becoming invaluable in a business context.


Italy has one of the richest cultural and aesthetic histories, and has produced leading figures such as Dante, Michelangelo, Puccini and Leonardo da Vinci. The country’s reputation for celebrating ‘La Dolce Vita’ is expressed in fields as diverse as fashion, food and football. A knowledge of Italian is a useful tool to access this rich cultural vein.


Winston Churchill famously described Russia as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. A study of Russian helps pupils unlock some of these secrets.

Why Study at Clifton College?

Clifton College has an excellent A Level record, with candidates sitting the AQA exams in most languages. For details of these courses, see the individual language pages.

Alongside the main A Level courses, Clifton offers complementary courses in Italian and Russian. This is an excellent opportunity to learn a new language and study for a further GCSE.

The department offers pupils many opportunities to use their languages outside the classroom, for example on language trips, debating events, and sketch and poetry evenings. We have also recently moved into brand new premises, equipped with the latest technology.