Modern Languages

Head of Department: Mr M R Fries BA (Open University) 
Email: martin.fries@epsomcollege.org.uk  

The ability to speak another language and to communicate with other cultures is a normal expectation in a world in which geographical distances are reduced by technology and media. Epsom College prides itself on reflecting its international outlook in the teaching of Modern Languages.

In the employment market, a second language often makes an applicant stand out, and in some management or law careers it might well be a prerequisite for an interview. Combined courses with a language are, therefore, increasingly popular and have been much developed by universities.

The necessity for mastering other languages is emphasised by the increasing diversity of languages on the Internet and the increasing number of native speakers of languages other than English and Chinese. It is predicted that the number of French speakers worldwide will increase from 200 million today to over 400 million by 2025, largely thanks to the economic growth in African countries. A similar trend can be observed with regard to Spanish in South and Central America. German, meanwhile, remains Europe's most widely-spoken language and a strong favourite amongst European employers. Given Europe's strong economic position, German is also the third most popular language on the Internet, before Spanish, French and Chinese.

With our sights firmly set on authenticity and concrete application of the languages taught, we have implemented international exams in addition to domestic ones. Hence the Year 7 and 8 students will study the CEFR levels A1 and A2 in French, German and Spanish, and in Mandarin the equivalent of HSK levels 1 and 2, completing the relevant diploma at the end of Year 8.

We are the first school in the UK to offer a full range of CEFRL and HSK exams, from A1 to C1 levels.

In French, the DELF-DALF Diploma series provides further qualifications for the best students at IGCSE and A-level, with the German DaF and Spanish DELE Diploma also available. All four languages are represented in the Core Curriculum through the CEFR level B2 or HSK Level 4 respectively. These diplomas of the European Reference Framework for Language (and Chinese equivalent) are not only recognised worldwide by universities, employers, governments and international institutions, but also have a prestigious place on UCAS forms and with UK universities.

Modern Languages students in the Sixth Form especially are encouraged to develop individual and independent linguistic skills, in preparation for EPQs, Oxbridge applications or pure and combined language degree courses. Our mission is to teach languages as a life-long skill set, which will be a practical help to all, and an academic inspiration. 

Epsom's reputation as a centre of excellence in Modern Languages is reflected in its role not only as an examination centre but also as an examiner training centre for the French DELF-DALF by CIEP. Mrs Cholet became an examiner trainer in 2015, and is currently the only trainer employed by a UK school.

Follow the links below to learn more about Modern Languages at Epsom College.


Years 7 and 8/Third Form and Lower Fourth

French: DELF A1-A2

German: DaF A1-A2

Spanish: DELE A1-A2

Mandarin Chinese: HSK Levels 1-2

The Year 7 and 8 students will study the CEFR levels A1 and A2 in French, German and Spanish, and in Mandarin the equivalent of HSK levels 1 and 2, completing the relevant diploma at the end of Year 8. All languages are available ab initio. When transitioning to Year 9, pupils have the choice to either continue with the two languages they have studied in Years 7-8, or change one or both for one or two others. Please note that French is not available ab initio in Year 9, whilst German, Mandarin and Spanish can be taken up without previous knowledge in Year 9.

Year 9/Middle Fourth




Mandarin Chinese: EDEXCEL GCSE

In Year 9 we consolidate previous knowledge whilst embarking immediately on the IGCSE/GCSE courses. A solid foundation of grammatical theory and accuracy is laid at this stage in order to allow for independent learning all the way to A2 level and beyond. We also provide bespoke teaching for bilingual pupils or advanced learners. Policies regarding the conditions are available from the Head of Modern Languages.

All Year 9 pupils study a combination of any two languages from the range of German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish through to IGCSE (for French, German and Spanish) and GCSE (for Mandarin). German, Mandarin and Spanish are available ab initio, or in advanced sets, French requires previous knowledge in order to embark on the IGCSE course, ab initio studies are not offered for French. All four are also offered at AS/A2 level, with Mandarin preparing the Cambridge Pre-U exam.

Years 10/11 GCSE


German: CIE IGCSE, DaF B1


Mandarin Chinese: EDEXCEL GCSE

All pupils will sit examinations in the following four skills in the Summer Term of Year 11: 

  • Listening Comprehension
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Speaking

In order to stretch the most able, the top sets in French will also sit the DELF B1 exam in March of Year 11. The German and Spanish equivalents are available upon individual arrangement.


We offer A2 exams as main public exams in French, German and Spanish with EDEXCEL/Pearson Education.CEFR B2 qualifications are available in the Core Curriculum, or in addition to A-levels, at the appropriate levels for the candidates. Mandarin Chinese is examined through CIE Pre-U, and is also available in the Core Curriculum through HSK Level 4.

Department Staff

Head of Department

Mr M R Fries BA (Open University)

Department Teaching Staff

Mr L Baker BA (Oxon) 

Mrs X Cheng, BA (Henan), MSc (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers)

Mrs N Cholet BA (Open University) 

Ms J Delmet BA (Littoral), MA (Sorbonne), MA (Paris-Nanterre)

Mr C H Filbey BA (Dunelm) 

Mrs C Guyon (Teacher's Cert) 

Mrs U Herwig MA (University of Bonn) 

Mrs H E Keevil BA (Exeter)

Ms Z Liu BEd (Shenyang Normal University), MA (UCL) - Head of Chinese

Ms I Manchado MA (University of Salamanca)

Mr J March BSc (Polytechnic University of Catalonia), MA (Barcelona) - Head of Spanish

Mr N Mayer BA (Ruhr University, Bochum) Head of German

Miss J Pizarro, BA, MA (Salamanca) 

Mrs L D Skipper BA (Queen Mary, University of London) 

Mrs C C Winmill MA (Bordeaux)



The Leverhulme Building contains seven large classrooms and four  small classrooms for conversation classes, all of which are equipped with AV and IT facilities, which are also available through the School's Intranet Portal from off site. Particularly valuable are extensive online databases for print and AV media, as well as a wide range of interactive media on Epsom College subscriptions. We are also proud to run the first language laboratory in the country based on wireless devices, which SANAKO is developing with Epsom College.   

All pupils will also benefit from weekly conversation tasks with our permanently employed Assistants, who are an essential part of the teaching team. In the 6th Form, students will have one additional hour of oral tasks every week in pairs, whilst in Years 7-11 these will be shorter periods during the timetabled lessons each week.


The Department organises regular exchanges and study visits for most year groups to China, France, Germany and Spain.

We also benefit from the closeness to London for a wide variety of cultural excursions, and offer a wide range of cultural extension activities, such as Literature and Oxbridge seminars and Language Clubs.