The Perse School


Developing the ability to connect with Germans - linguistically and culturally

Our aim

Our approach to AS level German and Goethe Zertifikat (GZ) is rooted in an understanding of what makes Germany tick today. We study many aspects of modern German society such as the changing role of the family, the digital world, youth culture, festivals, art and architecture, and Berlin as a cultural city. Through their appreciation of what it is to be German, students develop the ability to think in a non-Anglophone way and to connect effectively with Germans on many levels, in addition to becoming competent linguists.

Studying German at AS level, in combination with GZ, should be seen as complimentary. While the AS level focuses on cultural and historical topics, the GZ is a skill-based course focusing on communication and inter-cultural awareness. It allows students  to enrich their command of the spoken and written language to a significant degree of sophistication. Students’ understanding of an increasingly widening range of language develops as does a greater awareness of cultural differences, nuances and similarities. It is anticipated that students would sit the GZ qualification at the end of Lower Sixth, while the AS level would be sat in Upper Sixth.

Students have a weekly lesson with the language assistant to build their confidence in their spoken German. These intensive lessons are invaluable in helping them develop fluency and the ability to debate and defend their point of view confidently and to prepare for the oral exam.

German is also offered as a full A level under the extra-curricular programme provision, for which a fee applies. However, lessons usually fall within the normal school day timetable.

Students who study German in the Sixth Form often go on to read German at university, either as the chief subject of their degree or as a valuable subsidiary component.

Learning journey - Lower Sixth

The syllabus covers the topics relating to the AS and GZ courses:

  • Aspects of German-speaking society: the changing role of the family; the digital world; youth culture
  • Artistic culture in the German-speaking world: festivals and traditions; art and architecture; Berlin as a cultural city


Learning journey - Upper Sixth

In the Upper Sixth we continue to cover to work on developing the content of the AS examination. Students also study a film by a German director. For those students wishing to take the full A level qualification (as a subsidised extra-curricular option), additional lessons will be available to cover the extra topic areas:

  • Multi-culturalism in German-speaking society
  • Germany and the EU
  • Young people and politics
  • The reunification of Germany and its consequences
  • Literature classes focusing on one novel. We currently study Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink
  • Furthermore, as part of the A level oral examination preparation, students will undertake an Individual Research Project on any topic relating to a German-speaking country. This forms two-thirds of the oral assessment, during which you discuss your research findings with the teacher-examiner. This exam component is an excellent way to develop essential evaluative and research skills.


Providing stretch

Sixth Form students go to either Vienna or Berlin for a study tour. As well as an excellent opportunity to gain greater confidence communicating in German, it provides a chance to study the history and culture of these remarkable cities. The study of Vienna and Berlin links in directly with aspects of the AS and A level courses.

Students have benefited from seminars led by visiting speakers from King’s College London, University College London, Cambridge University and the Goethe Institut on topics from Nazi cinema to modern German literature.

We encourage students to enter the Oxford University German Olympiad. In recent years we have had students from The Perse who have been winners and runners-up in different categories.

Sixth Form students of German also take part in the Eastern Region Modern Foreign Languages debating competition, held at The Perse.


Beyond the classroom

During the year we organise cultural talks, competitions, debates, and seminars at lunchtime and after school. We also have a strong link with the Goethe Institut in London.

Students can keep up with news from Germany by browsing news magazine Spiegel Online, borrow a German film on DVD, or enjoy a novel from the extensive German language collection in our library. We encourage wide reading to stimulate intellectual curiosity and develop new interests, understanding and skills. Students of German are encouraged to consider delving into an aspect of German which they may not have previously considered.

German at university

We work 1:1 with students to create a reading and viewing programme and to offer support with all aspects of the subject. This is particularly important and useful for those wishing to study German at university, for whom we also provide personal support to develop a strong application.


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