With Cobham Hall’s international ethos attracting girls from all over the world, an excellent English as a Foreign Language Department is essential.

The EFL Department provides language support lessons to ensure that all students at Cobham Hall – no matter where they come from – can access the full curriculum and enjoy a happy and full social life using English. Both of these elements are essential for our international students.

Life as an international boarder at Cobham Hall has particular advantages for girls joining the School in order to improve their English, as it provides an immersive environment for them to develop academic, functional and social English.  Lessons are not restricted to preparation for tests or examinations.  Girls at Cobham Hall learn English in a way that will allow them to live and interact with others and to transcend national and cultural boundaries.

EFL classes are taught by a team of specialist teachers with an emphasis on communicative competence and on developing the skills required for accessing the entire curriculum.

Overseas students take an English language test as part of the admissions process and are tested again on arrival. Teaching is in small groups or occasionally on a one-to-one basis.

Pastoral support is a key element of the EFL Department and all overseas students benefit from our ‘open-door’ approach. Pupils are welcome to discuss any issues concerning their academic life and any language or cultural matters that may concern them. The EFL Department at Cobham Hall is a welcoming, supportive environment where students can both learn and have fun and where they can gain enough confidence in English to integrate and succeed.

Years 7 – 9

Throughout the School, students who are identified as requiring extra EFL support are offered a specific language programme to develop their English.  While most students take EFL alongside the main curriculum timetable, in some cases a pupil may be withdrawn from certain subjects in order to join a short-term modified programme.  The EFL staff liaise regularly with subject teachers and may offer subject-specific support when necessary, especially in the revision period before the summer examinations.  If appropriate, students may be offered the possibility of taking an examination from the Cambridge English suite of examinations (KET, PET or FCE for Schools).

Years 10 – 11

At GCSE level, girls whose first language is not English will be tested at the beginning of Year 10 to determine whether they will take the standard GCSE English Courses in English Language and English Literature, or whether they will study the IGCSE in English as a Second Language.  Most girls who have EFL lessons will study the IGCSE option.  Click here to read more about the IGCSE in English as a Second Language.

Sixth Form

Sixth Form students who are not native speakers of English (or who do not possess native-speaker competence in the language equivalent to C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) will also be required to study English as a Foreign Language.  Students take at least one of two examinations at the end of their two-year course: either IELTS or Cambridge Advanced English.  It is also possible to take both examinations if students wish to do so.  Some students may be offered the opportunity to prepare for the Cambridge Proficiency Examination, if their competence in the language is sufficiently high.

Pre-A Level/Short Stay 

Pre-A Level/Short Stay students needing EFL support follow a special programme covering grammar, communication skills, cultural awareness and functional productive language.  Depending on their progress and level of language development, students may be offered the option to take the Cambridge First Certificate English for Schools examination in the Summer Term.  Students also participate in a varied programme of bespoke cultural and language activities during the final week of the first half of the Summer Term.  This programme typically includes a range of interactive projects and workshops which cover topics such as the history of the English language, English literature, film-making, the historic house of Cobham Hall and the regions of the UK.  You can find out more about the Short Courses available here.

We also offer an Intensive English Summer Course

The international nature of the school encourages [pupils with EAL] to become fluent in English and so to make rapid progress.
– Independent Schools’ Inspectorate, February 2015