Why study German at Bolton School?

As a senior Germanist at Bolton School you may be invited to go on the Bonn Exchange (again) at Easter of Year 12, to serve as a Senior Boy on the Rheinland Trip in October Half Term, compete at the regional MFL debating challenge in Year 13 and to enter the Oxford German Network’s Olympiad competition.  It is a particular strength of this school that four such opportunities are provided so as to give you the most opportunity to speak German in real life contexts. You will be taught by German specialists all of whom hold Honours degrees in Modern Foreign Languages. In addition to the 11 fortnightly timetabled lessons throughout Years 12 and 13, you will attend a weekly conversation class with the German Assistant usually in a group of no more than three students. In recent years several linguists have secured places at Oxbridge and other very selective universities to study German, or indeed German with other subject combinations, many of whose successes have seen them being awarded A* grades. Participation in the modern foreign languages debating competition provides the challenge of debate and quick-thinking in the language. Each week A-Level students are encouraged to lead our club: the German Grammar Club.  This is of particular benefit, as you will be able to teach younger boys some of the routine aspects of German grammar, and this in itself is an excellent way of becoming better at a language. 

What will I study?

A-Level German aims to develop your GCSE skills to a much higher level of competence.  You will be encouraged to speak and write German more fluently and more accurately than before and to listen to and read quite complex text with ease and, dare we say, enjoyment.  Your study includes grammar taught very clearly in English. However the majority of the lessons are in German and range over the topics below:

Aspects of German-speaking society

  • The changing state of the family
  • The digital world
  • Youth culture: fashion and trends, music, television 

Artistic culture in the German-speaking world

  • Festivals and traditions
  • Art and Architecture
  • Cultural life in Berlin, past and present. 

Multiculturalism in German-speaking society

  • Immigration
  • Integration
  • Racism 

Aspects of political life in the German-speaking world

  • Germany and the European Union
  • Politics and youth
  • German reunification and its consequences 


A-level students will study the grammatical system and structure of the language. The end of course exams will test their use of accurate grammar and structures appropriate to the tasks set, drawing from the lists in the specification. 


Students study two books or one book and one film from the lists in the specification. 

Individual research topic

Students conduct individual research on a subject of personal interest, relating to the country or countries where the language of study is spoken. 

In some ways the transition to A Level is not that intimidating. The emphasis lies now not so much on learning endless lists of new vocabulary, but on becoming confident and fluent in conversation, organised and accurate on paper and in the passive skills able to cope with real German. 

How will I be assessed? 


Paper 1        Listening, reading and translation  50%             

Paper 2        Writing   20%

Paper 3        Speaking 30% 

Desirable requirements 

Less than a grade 7 at GCSE would be a discouraging starting point for you.  If you need and are aiming for a top grade at A-Level, you really need one at GCSE before you start.

Where will it lead?

CBI (Confederation of British Industry) surveys regularly confirm German as a foreign language ‘most useful to an employer or organisation’.  36% of employers recruit employees specifically for their language skills. Combining a language with a wide variety of semi-vocational courses at university e.g. business management, law, banking, accountancy, architecture, even engineering, can often secure you employment because all the other applicants for the job you are after are qualified in the vocational subject alone.  With such vast areas of British commerce, industry and even the professions, owned or controlled by German parent organisations, or at the very least allied to powerful German concerns, it makes good sense to study some German beyond GCSE, if you can. Even without German at a university, a decent A-Level grade is often decisive in later life.  Germans are flattered by our learning of their difficult language and there are benefits to be had from even trying.