The Perse School


Developing the ability to connect with Germans - linguistically and culturally

Our aim

Our approach to A level German is rooted in an understanding of what makes Germany tick today. We study many aspects of modern German society: from the socio-political, including immigration and racism, to the cultural, including literature and film. 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 A level 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.  That said, taking German at A level is not solely about learning a language – it is a chance to develop intellectual skills in a challenging and rewarding environment.

Students have a weekly lesson in pairs 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.

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 four broad topics as well as text and film studies over the two years of the course. The topics in the Lower Sixth are:

  • Aspects of German-speaking society: current trends
  • Artistic culture in the German-speaking world
  • One film study

In addition, as part of the oral examination preparation, students will also undertake an Individual Research Project, the aim of which is to develop research skills. They identify a subject or a key question which is of interest to them and which relates to a country or countries where German is spoken. They select relevant information in German from a range of sources including the internet.

Students will demonstrate their ability to initiate and conduct individual research by analysing and summarising their findings, in order to present and discuss them in the speaking assessment. They start to plan the project at the end of the Lower Sixth.

Learning journey - Upper Sixth

The topics in the Upper Sixth are:

  • Multiculturalism in German-speaking society
  • Aspects of political life in the German-speaking world
  • Ane text study

Students also study German art, following on from a study of architecture in the Lower Sixth.

Providing stretch

Sixth formers go to 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 of this remarkable city and learn about key events in German history. We have visited the Museum of German History, the Reichstag, the Berlin Underworld, the Museum of German Resistance, the Berlin Wall and the DDR museum, among others.

Students have benefitted from seminars led by visiting speakers from KCL, UCL, Cambridge and the Goethe Insititute on topics from Nazi Cinema to modern German literature.

We encourage students to enter the Advanced category of the UK Linguistics Olympiad. In 2016 27 students took part, securing seven gold, seven silver and eight bronze awards in this challenging test.

We celebrate European Day of Languages with quizzes, competitions, film screenings and an international twist to the lunch menu.

Beyond the classroom

The Modern Languages Society organises cultural talks, film screening, competitions, debates, seminars and plays at lunchtime and after school.

Our 42 programme of lunchtime lectures includes languages. A recent speaker was Dr Jennifer Todd, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at UCL, whose topic was ‘How do we understand the meaning of words?’

Students can keep up with news from Germany by browsing news magazine Spiegel, 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 Brecht’s Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, Der Besuch der alten Dame by Dürrenmatt and Frisch’s Andorra.

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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