Modern Foreign Languages

We are very proud of our vibrant department, which offers French, German and Spanish from Upper Three to A Level, with many students opting to study two languages.  There is also the opportunity to study Italian ab initio in the Sixth Form to GCSE and AS level.

Girls in U3 study two lessons of French, German and Spanish for the year to give them a real feel for each language. They can then choose any two languages in L4 or they may have the opportunity to continue with all three languages.

At Sixth form level, there is a trip to Antibes and the opportunity to organise work experience abroad or an exchange.  Having completed their A Level, many girls go on to study languages at university with a view to using them in their future careers, either at home or abroad.

Beyond the curriculum, we offer plays in the foreign languages, theatre and cinema trips, cooking experiences and native speaking assistants.

For those who are interested in pursuing other languages, there is the opportunity to join Mandarin club.  For bilingual students, we are able to organise examinations in their mother tongue. 

The Upper 6 French students have recently launched La Roue Quotidienne, a journal focusing on events happening in and around France. The first edition can be found at the link here: La Roue Quotidienne

Modern Foreign Languages Department Staff
  • Mrs S Berry, BA (Hons) Canterbury, PGCE (French & German)
    Studied French, German and European Studies at the University of Kent. Studying languages was a good excuse to travel and work overseas and many vacations were spent working in the Alps. On graduating from university, she was delighted to be offered a full-time job as an Overseas Contracts Manager for a major tour operator. After eight years of negotiating contracts and managing overseas staff she decided to return to England and start a new career as a Modern Language teacher. Her first job was at Rodborough School in Godalming which necessitated a move out of London to Surrey. She then moved on to be second in the French Department at Tomlinscote School and then Head of French at the Howard of Effingham School before coming to St Catherine’s.
  • Dr Maria Alhambra Diaz, BA, MA, PhD East Anglia, PGCE (Spanish and French) 
  • Mrs L Dibsdall, MA (Hons) St. Andrews, PGCE (Spanish & French)
    Joined St.Catherine’s in 2007 after completing her PGCE at Cambridge. Prior to teaching Lucy worked at a global advertising agency for four years. She teaches French and Spanish. Aside from teaching she loves sport and travel.
  • Miss Jennifer Guiton BA, Masters Artois, ITT (French) 
  • Mrs K Hawtin - Spanish, BA Durham, PGCE (Spanish & Italian). Head of Sixth Form
    Currently on maternity leave, Kate joined St Catherine’s in 2006 after a degree in Spanish and Italian at Durham, during which she lived in Madrid and Bologna. She worked for a translation firm in London before deciding to go into teaching and completing a PGCE at Southampton. Aside from European Languages, her other interests include travel, baking and being by the sea.
  • Miss Marjorie Kerleau (French) Modern Foreign Language Assistant

  • Mrs R McQuade, BA  Oviedo, PGCE (Spanish)
    Completed her PGCE at Oviedo University in 1988. She decided to come to England for a term to learn English, after learning French and Italian at university. She worked in several schools in Bristol and Basingstoke until she joined St Catherine’s in 1995. During her time at St Catherine’s, she has been a residential tutor, L6 Boarding Housemistress and Head of Spanish. From day one, she was part of Merriman House. In 2002, she became Merriman Housemistress. She loves reading, going to the theatre, walking by the sea and travel.
  • Dr E Nevin - Head of German, BA Oxon, GTP (French & German)
    Dr  Nevin trained as a teacher at St Catherine’s, having working in the city for a couple years following her undergraduate degree. She is passionate about the value of language and literature, achieving her PhD in gender identity in fiction by German women in the nineteenth century.
  • Mrs Catherine Peel - Head of French MA Oxon, PGCE King’s London ( French and German)

  • Mrs Montse Gil Rivas - BA, MA Surrey, PGDip, PGCE (Spanish and French) 
    Studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton and completed a PGCE at King’s College, London University.  Subsequently, taught in several schools including Godolphin and Latymer, London and St Alban’s High School, both as Head of Spanish and others including The Abbey School, Reading.  Retrained as a clinical negligence lawyer and worked for several years in a well-known national firm, but missed teaching languages so returned to teaching!  Enjoys travel to see Spanish family in the South of Spain and spending time with her family.