Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language.
Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.
Why Study Another Language?
Our excellent resources and facilities ensure that we engage linguists at all levels, and language learning at King's is lively, active and exciting. School exchanges are regularly arranged to Germany, and pupils are also able to arrange one-to-one exchanges with young people of their age.
Our expert staff are highly skilled, motivated and constantly exploring new teaching tools and resources. Our excellent native-speaker language assistants provide weekly conversation lessons for pupils, so their teaching supports the learning taking place in language lessons and is a vital component in our pupils' experience of the language and its country.
We challenge our pupils to broaden their horizons and take charge of their learning. Whether this is through a language exchange or through the opportunities our ICT facilities offer for independent study, we are proud of our confident and dynamic modern linguists.
The Erasmus Society
Laura Burgos-LejonagoitiaHead of Modern Foreign Languages Department
I worked at King’s for two years before becoming Head of Modern Languages in 2020. I teach Spanish up to A level and I am a GCSE tutor in Taylor House. I did my degree in Hispanic Studies at the University of Granada, Spain then completed a PhD in Spanish Theatre during the 20th Century at the Complutense University of Madrid and an MA in Gender Equality at the International University Menéndez Pelayo. I have published books and articles in academic magazines and participated in international conferences. I was a Lecturer at the University of Exeter teaching Spanish theatre and feminism before deciding to become a secondary school teacher. I am a nature lover, so in my free time I am either enjoying the Quantock Hills, or travelling to Spain to visit my family and friends where I love to ride the family horses. I also love cooking for my friends, hosting dinners and garden parties. Needless to say that I am an avid reader and writer.
Lisa WrobelTeacher - French and German
I have worked in the Modern Foreign Languages Department at King’s for over 23 years. I teach GCSE French.and GCSE and A level German since I have a joint Honours Degree in both languages from Exeter University. I am passionate about my languages and love teaching them. I lived in Germany for a year whilst doing my degree which is where I met my husband who teaches in the Maths Department at King’s! I love to travel in the summer, particularly throughout Germany, Switzerland and Austria and we enjoy visiting France and Belgium too. My favourite hobbies are hiking and reading. I like to relax in holiday time and love hiking in the Alps with my family. At school, I am also responsible for our international pupils in my role as International Tutor and I am the Staff Induction Tutor. I am attached to Taylor House and have been a 3rd Form Tutor in there for many years.
Lydia SloanTeacher - French and Spanish
I joined King's in September 2020 to teach French at A level, Spanish to Third Form and GCSE level and GCSE English Language. My degree is in English Literature and French from the University of Exeter, where I also studied for my PGCE. During my year abroad, I lived in Périgueux in the Dordogne region of France where I worked as an English language assistant in a Lycée and lived with a French family. I also worked at an international summer camp in the Swiss Alps as an English teacher and activity leader which was lots of fun. The parts of my degree that I particularly enjoyed were learning about French linguistics, translation and the Francophone world and its literature. In my spare time, I enjoy running, doing yoga, CrossFit, cooking, reading, playing my saxophone and travelling. I am also a reserve soldier in the Military Intelligence Corps and undertake training with them outside of work. As a result, I help with the Army section of the CCF here at King's.
Marina DonaldsonTeacher - Russian
I have worked at King's since 2018 and before that, I taught at other local Schools. I completed my Master Degree in Civil Law at Moscow State Industrial University (MSIU) and Primary Teacher Course at Moscow Pedagogical College. Currently I am back to university to complete a new teaching course - Russian as a foreign Language. I have had the great pleasure of teaching GCSE and A Level Russian to great success, and love to teach Russian for fun! Each student is an individual and learns differently, and my teaching focuses on his/her needs or abilities. By engaging them constructively, I'm able to motivate them to achieve. My leisure is taken up with my family and my four Golden Retrievers walking the hills and coastline around Somerset. I also enjoy so much my visits home to Russia particularly in winter and the awesomeness of snow and the refreshing cold. I love meeting new students and trying to encourage them in learning Russian language and culture.
Astrid HermesAssistant - German
I have been supporting students in oral German at King’s part-time since 2014. My language journey started at a Gymnasium in Germany followed by studies in France in Applied Linguistics and completing with a “Maîtrise d’Anglais”. I then moved to the UK where I worked in international business, marketing consumer and technical products to customers world-wide. In recent years I have focused on teaching German language and qualified as teacher. I am also a Fellow of the Institute of Higher Education and hold a PCAP from Exeter University, where I work as lecturer and co-ordinator of language courses. I’m an active member of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange service) and the Taunton French and Italian societies. My family is scattered across the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy and I try to visit them as often as I can. I really enjoy sharing home-cooked food, hiking in the hills, cycle trips along rivers (not up hill), theatrical experiences and reading, particularly survival stories.
Karen McSwigganTeacher - German and French
I have worked in the MFL Department at King’s for 30 years... wow! I teach GCSE and A level German, and have also taught French and History at King's. I have a joint Honours Degree in German and Russian from Reading University, and am passionate about languages and language learning, and love teaching. As part of my degree course I spent a year at university in Göttingen in Germany and in Kiev in Ukraine which was an unforgettable experience. I still love to spend time travelling when I can and particularly enjoy spending time in Germany. My favourite hobbies are cooking, reading and music. I play the clarinet (rarely) and sing (badly but enthusiastically). In addition to being a teacher of German, I am also Deputy Head with a pastoral focus and I was previously Housemistress of Meynell House.
Audrey LaroucheTeacher - French, Spanish, Latin
Bonjour! I joined the MFL department at King’s in September 2020. I teach French to GCSE and A level students, and Spanish and Latin to Third Formers, as well as being a Fifth Form tutor attached to Meynell House. I grew up in the province of Québec in Canada. I did my degree in Communication at Université Laval. I then travelled around Australia and South-East Asia for a year to learn English. I went back to live in Montreal, worked in public relations for a few years and then completed a postgraduate certificate in translation at the University of Montréal. I was a freelance translator for over ten years before I decided it was time to do a PGCE and become a secondary teacher - I always wanted to be a teacher! What I enjoy the most is spending time outdoors with my two boys, my husband and our dog. I love living, reading, music, writing, cooking, skiing… My favourite book is ‘One hundred years of solitude’, by Gabriel García Márquez and my favourite film, ‘The red violin’, by François Girard.
Yuan Zhao-PomfretTeacher - Cantonese and Mandarin
I was born in Beijing, China. I started my career as an English teacher after completed teacher training in Beijing. I obtained my BA in English literature. I taught English for 16 years in Beijing. I was very curious of how other people who speak different language live their life. I came to UK for further study when there was an opportunity, I obtained master’s degree at University of Exeter in international management. As teaching has always been my passion, I completed PGCE at University of Plymouth. I joined King’s in 2022 as a part-time Chinese tutor for both GCSE and A level. I love teaching and learning. It is a great pleasure to see how learners enjoy ‘playing’ with language. I am so pleased to be able to continue teaching as a language teacher in UK. I love sports. Enjoy swimming, paying badminton and tennis. But table tennis is my favourite sport. I am a competitive league player, often play matches for local table tennis club. I also have an ambition - I would love to learn a few more foreign languages. It is fascinating to use different languages to communicate with people around the world.
Oliver Di GennaroAssistant - French
You probably would not have guessed it from my surname (inherited from my paternal grandparents, originally from the region of Naples) but I come from France and have been working as the French language assistant at King's since 2019. I was born and raised in Marseille, in the southeast of France and the historical capital of Provence. I have had a real passion for languages since a young age and studied English, Spanish and Italian up to A level and, later in my life, some German. I studied French at university (with Latin as a minor), specialising in 19th century and comparative literature for my Master’s degree. A chance discovery of teaching French as a Foreign Language during my military service as a trainee officer in the French Navy changed my career plans. After completing a second master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and working for a couple of years as a teacher for the blind, I came to Taunton in 2004 to work as a language assistant at Richard Huish College where I stayed for three years. I then completed my teacher training, and since 2008 I have been working as a Cover Supervisor in a large secondary school at the heart of the Somerset Levels. Not very original but I really love my subject. In my spare time, I read about philology (ie. the study of words and of the way words and languages develop) and linguistics. I also like baroque music, opera, musicals and going for long leisurely walks (provided it does not rain!).
Carmela De KellawayAssistant - Spanish
I was born in Venezuela with an Italian immigrant father and Venezuelan mother. I went to a Venezuelan University teaching degree in modern foreign languages. I spent twenty years teaching English as a foreign language to secondary school and University students in Venezuela. After moving to England, I have spent eighteen years teaching and tutoring Spanish as a foreign language to college students and as a Spanish Assistant at King's College since 2009. I am the mother of two daughters and now a grandmother. My passion, in addition to teaching, is travelling with my family and working as a volunteer to help empower people, especially those from ethnic minorities. I spend several hours a week as honorary treasurer of a registered charity that received recognition from the Queen last year, in the form of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. I enjoy working and contributing to the daily running of the school and to the students at King’s.