Before arriving at Radley, nearly all boys have studied French for two to five years at preparatory school and are setted on arrival on the basis of Common Entrance or Radley Scholarship results. There are seven French sets in each year of the Lower School, taking IGCSE or GCSE at the end of either the Removes or Fifth form. Between 30 and 40 study the language to AS/A2 level.
Spanish and/or German are studied ab initio from the Shells, all boys studying at least two modern languages in this year. Typically 60 boys will take Spanish and 30 German at GCSE. At A level, 20-25 take Spanish and 5-10 German. Italian, Russian, Japanese and Portuguese are sometimes offered outside the timetable.
There is a strong sense of teamwork and communal purpose amongst the dons who teach languages. All 16 members of the department willingly and routinely offer support, share materials and give advice if and when required and communicate a genuine enthusiasm for their subject to the boys they teach.
Over the past 15 years every member of the department has accompanied boys on an extended trip abroad at some time or other. Annual trips in all 3 subjects allow boys vital first hand access to the language they have chosen to study and its cultural context.
Between 2006 and 2009, 79 Radleians made successful applications to take language based degree courses at top British universities.