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
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.
Marina DonaldsonTeacher of 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.
Karen McSwigganTeacher of German
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.
Emily CastleHead of French
I started learning French at the age of eight when my mum sent me to my first French class. As well as speaking the language, we baked madeleines, played pétanque in the garden and sang French songs, and I was hooked. I went on to study French and English Literature at the University of St Andrews, where I developed a particular interest in French contemporary women's writing and sociolinguistics. Following my degree, I spent time working as a Language Assistant in Dijon, France where I fostered my love of mustard and pinot noir. I'm a mum of three kids, and in my spare time I love wild swimming, running, reading and spending time in nature. I am also a qualified holistic massage therapist and continue to practise massage therapy from a small clinic in Tiverton.
Shuling BrownleeTeacher of Chinese
I have worked in the MFL Department at King’s for nearly 13 years. I teach Chinese GCSE and A Level for both Mandarin and Cantonese. I enjoy teaching, especially being able to engage and motivate my students, helping them to achieve success. I have a BA degree in Accountancy in China before I started my first job at an international hotel there and I was promoted to be the AGM after five years of hard work. I then studied further for Hospitality Management in Switzerland followed by an MBA in Financial Management at Brunel University in London. In my spare time, my favourite hobby is singing. I also like running and Pilates.
Laura GalvinTeacher of Spanish and French
I joined the Languages department in September 2022 teaching GCSE French and Spanish and A level Spanish. I have lived all over the world including Scotland, France, Singapore, Istambul, Mexico and the USA. I completed my degree at the University of Manchester in European Studies and Spanish and have maintained a love of languages and international culture. Before deciding to become a secondary languages teacher I moved from Washington D.C. to Devon in 2018 where I was as a 500hr certified yoga teacher, and I have run a small business for the past four years in rural Mid Devon. I took the decision to become an educator very seriously as my passion for languages and cultural acceptance is a deep-seated part of my personality. I believe languages are highly valuable to all pupils and I hope pupils will value the need for diversity and acceptance in school and society alike. In my free time I love to travel to new places, spend time with friends and family exploring or getting out on long walks. I love to help others whichever way I can and therefore spend time volunteering in my community.
Astrid HermesGerman Speaking Assistant
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.
Lisa WrobelTeacher of 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.
Carmela Bianco de KellawaySpanish Speaking Assistant
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.