Languages at Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
Frank Smith

All students study languages at Durham Johnston.

The global twenty-first century demands high levels of linguistic ability. At Durham Johnston, we are enthusiastic about language study offering French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. In addition to our modern foreign languages, we also teach Latin (see separate entry).

In Year 7, all students study French for three terms and one term each of German, Mandarin and Spanish. They are also given taster sessions in Latin. At the end of Year 7, students choose two languages to study in Year 8 and 9 with the additional opportunity to study further languages in lunchtime masterclasses (German, Spanish or Mandarin).

Most students then choose to continue at least one language to GCSE level. This gives our young learners a considerable advantage in their choice of university courses and their future careers. At GCSE, we follow the AQA specification for modern languages which can be found at this link. Students practise all four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing over a range of topics. By the end of the course, they will be able to hold short conversations, understand both listening and reading texts and be able to produce short pieces of writing in the target language.


At A Level, we follow the AQA specification for modern languages which can be found at this link. Students extend their linguistic skills studying a range of topics related to life in countries where the language is spoken. In addition to language based work, they also study film and literary texts, giving them further insights into the culture of these countries.



Latin is offered to all students at Durham Johnston School.

In addition to studying modern foreign languages, we give our students the opportunity to study the language and culture of the Romans. As well as providing an excellent training in problem-solving and logical thought, learning Latin helps build students’ English vocabulary, makes connections with modern European languages derived from Latin and helps them understand the influence of the ancient world on our society today.

“It is not only learning a language - you are also learning a history. I look forward to it every week.”  Year 8 student at DJCS

All classes have 2 Latin taster lessons in Year 7 before they make their choices for Year 8 languages. For Years 8 to10, we use the Cambridge Latin Course, which has both textbooks and supporting activities available online. We learn about life in Pompeii, Roman Britain and Roman Egypt before finally reaching Rome itself in Year 10. We are working towards the EDUQAS GCSE, which links closely to the Cambridge Latin Course and requires knowledge of the cultural background topics as well as the language itself. The GCSE course includes studying some real unadapted Latin, linked to a theme such as A Day at the Races or Magic & Superstition.

For Latin A-level, we work towards the OCR exam, using Taylor: Latin Beyond GCSE for language work and studying literature from authors including Cicero, Livy, Catullus, Ovid and Virgil. By the end of the course, students will be able to translate straight-forward unadapted Latin texts and have a confident understanding of the Roman world.