Here at St Paul’s, we are fortunate in that we are one of the few schools in the country who teach German as a first foreign language and to a large number of girls across all year groups. Thus, we have a large cohort of GCSE and sixth form students every year, and with excellent results. Again and again, our girls and our parents discover what a great advantage it is to study a Germanic language in addition to an Oriental or a Romance language; travelling and a fuller understanding of the European world become so much easier. One of the cultural highlights of the calendar is German day which combines our love for the language with the more traditional approach to Christmas and girls can be heard singing German Christmas Carols and enjoying typical German lunches.

From Haribo to Porsche, from Luther to Angela Merkel, from Schiller to Beethoven, from Einstein to Paul Klee, our language teaching looks beyond the grammar book to provide an enriching curriculum including geography, history, art, film and literature, and current affairs. German is one of the languages all students will explore in the MIV and is then offered as a first foreign language from the end of the MIV and as a second modern language from the UIV. We use a very wide range of traditional as well as electronic resources to make the learning varied and fun. In addition, we offer exchanges at every key stage, tailored to the girls’ individual learning stage. This gives our students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the language in context and the wider social and cultural environment.

At the end of the VI, girls sit the CIE IGCSE, continuing to the Cambridge Pre-U, for which the CIE IGCSE is an excellent preparation. All exams test all four language skills. The year groups studying towards IGCSE and Pre-U enjoy one weekly lesson with our oral teacher. The Pre-U qualification is accessible to any student who has taken a language to IGCSE. In the VII the students deepen their grammatical knowledge and significantly extend their active vocabulary to explore issues touching on the position of the young person in society. They have to be able to offer opinions on relevant topics ranging from the positive and negative effects of popular trends to the environmental impact of mass tourism. From the spring term of the VII they will embark on study of a literary work which they will write about in English.

The second year of Pre-U asks the student to consider their position as a member of the global society and interestingly, is one of the few senior school subjects which insists that students explore ethical issues, such as euthanasia, globalisation and nuclear energy in depth. The discursive essay prepares them well for many higher education courses which require such skills whilst the use of language paper hones their linguistic awareness and rigour. The cultural paper includes the essay in English mentioned above and a comparative study in the target language of two or more texts and/or films.

In the spring term, our German department organises and runs a workshop for sixth formers studying German across a range of London schools.

Trips and cultural opportunities

In the UIV, most girls take up the opportunity of a week long exchange with the Liebfrauenschule Bonn to get their first glimpse of life in Germany. In the Middle School, many girls travel to Berlin for a cultural and language course. Girls opting to study German at Pre-U participate in our exchange, again joint with the boys’ school, with  Otto-von-Taube-Gymnasium München. We regularly attend London theatre productions, film screenings and exhibitions in German and in translation.