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. 

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. Girls choosing to pursue one language for GCSE are given the chance to travel to Saint Malo, Salamanca, and Berlin for activities week. For many of them, this is their first opportunity to get a real feel of the country and the language. They come back confident in their ability to speak the language and ready to work hard for their oral exam the next year.

At Sixth Form level, there is a trip to Antibes and Valencia 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, various competitions in and out of school (speed-debating, Business Space Challenge, Francophonie Day), language clubs (German Literature Club, French Salon de Thé), 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 Simone 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.
  • Mrs Lucy 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.
  • Mrs Vicky Diprose, BA (Hons), PGCE (Spanish & French)
    After working as a conference organiser based in London, she spent two years in TEFL before embarking on a PGCE. Having taught Spanish and French at Burntwood School in London for several years, becoming Head of MFL, she moved to Surrey, teaching at St Peter’s Guildford, St George’s Weybridge and Manor House School before joining St Catherine’s. She enjoys travel, cinema and contemporary novels.
  • Miss Jennifer Guiton BA, Masters Artois, ITT (French) 
    Studied French Language and Literature at ULCO University, France. She moved to China in 2012 to teach French Language and Literature at Hubei Engineering University. In 2013, she then moved to Ireland where she taught as a French Language assistant at Newpark Comprehensive School in Dublin. She arrived at St Catherine’s School in 2016 and started her Initial Teacher Training in 2017. She has also been Keller’s Housemistress’ Assistant in Boarding for the last 2 years. Enjoys travelling and learning languages
  • Mrs Kate 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, MA West Virginia University (USA)
    Born and raised in France, she soon developed a very keen interest for English and thus studied English Language, Literature, and Civilisation before graduating in 2012. A strong believer in taking advantage of universities’ international exchange programmes, she spent a year in Italy studying translation and interpretation techniques, one in Cambridge working as a French Teaching Assistant in two state schools, and another one at the University of York reading English Linguistics as part of her MA. In 2013, she moved to West Virginia for two years to teach French at university and study for a second MA in TESOL. She joined St Catherine’s in 2018 and has been working as a French and EAL Teaching Assistant since.

  • Mrs Rosa 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 Elodie Nevin - Head of German, BA Oxon, GTP (French & German)
    Dr Nevin trained as a teacher at St Catherine’s, having worked 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.
  • Ms Julia Neumann
    She joined the MFL Department in September 2018 as the new German Language Assistant. She helps students practice their spoken language during weekly oral lessons. As she hasn’t finished university yet, Julia will return home to Osnabrück, Germany, at the end of May 2019. Her plan is to complete her training to become a prep school teacher.
  • Mrs Catherine Peel - Head of French MA Oxon, PGCE King’s London ( French and German)
    Studied French, German and Spanish at school, then French and German at Oxford. She has also taught TEFL, and lived in Vienna and Paris. After a PGCE in London, she has taught French, German (and sometimes Spanish too) in a variety of schools in London and Surrey, and been Head of Department three times. She has also worked as a marker and moderator for exam boards. In her spare time she likes to spend time with her family and dogs, read and travel.

  • 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.  
  • Ms Marian Jimenez Sanchez – Manzanares, BEd Primary (Special Education Needs) with QTS, University of Murcia, Spain 
    Studied Special Education Needs in University of Murcia, Spain, and has worked in Special Education Needs for over 4 years, at St Joseph’s Special Needs School and College in Cranleigh as well as Queen Eleanor’s in Guildford. She has now joined the team at St Catherine’s to teach Spanish. She also spent a few months in Perth, Australia teaching Spanish to a small group of bilingual children with dyslexia. She loves working with children and young people, it has been the focus of her career throughout her adult life. As a native Spanish speaker, she is familiar with the challenges that learning another language can bring and has learnt some useful techniques to help overcome them. She loves to cook Mediterranean food and share it with friends and colleagues, giving them a taste of her Spanish upbringing and showing them different traditions. She finds spending time in the forest helps her to unwind and refresh so that she is always ready for the next experience.