French is currently the key modern foreign language taught to all children in Years 3-8. The department is staffed by three teachers, and the children receive 4 lessons and complete one 30 minute prep. per week. Progress is regularly assessed, with formal examinations set at the end of the Christmas and Summer Terms, and mock examinations for Year 8 at the start of the Spring Term.
In Years 3-5, the work is based on Clé Internationale’s Il était une fois une petite grenouille course, which maintains a fantasy, fiction approach appropriate to the age group, whilst providing the opportunity to acquire some of the formal structures and grammar of the language, as well as teaching the children to listen carefully and to use correct pronunciation and intonation. Our aim is for them to have fun in the language, whilst building firm foundations to take the study of it further.
Most children are prepared for the Common Entrance examinations in Year 8 and work towards that goal from Year 6, using a wide range of material including the course So you really want to learn French Books 1 and 2. Exceptional children are encouraged to progress further, with the most able preparing for Scholarship examinations to a variety of schools.
All children have access to the Linguascope website, which is an interactive topic based resource, which can be accessed, at school or at home, by typing a user name and password. Recently we have introduced Vocab Express, another computer resource, which is proving very popular in Years 6-8, with children enjoying acquiring new vocabulary in a fun and very effective way – once again this can be accessed from home, as well as in school.
A French Club is held twice a week for children in Years 7+ 8, where they can have extra help if required, or simply have fun with the language in a variety of ways. Boules in the Box Gardens is very popular in the summer months! Theatre visits and other activities for any age group are also arranged whenever a suitable performance and venue are available.
There are two residential trips to France organised each year: a 3 day cross-curricular trip in Year 6, where we stay on the delightful island of Tatihou and undertake a host of language and other educational activities on the mainland nearby; and in Year 8 there is a 5 day trip, most recently to Normandy, but Paris and Burgundy have been other destinations, which takes place shortly before the CE Speaking Test and is a much enjoyed way of doing some final revision and preparation, as well as providing a special opportunity for children in their final year to spend a very pleasurable time together off-site, experiencing life and culture in a beautiful area of France.
We have a good link with three schools in France and children in Years 7 and 8 enjoy exchanging letters and emails with Collège Lechanteur in Caen and Collège Maréchal Leclerc near Paris.
Provision of other languages is made available when or if required, for example currently there is a child learning Italian and recently there have been Mandarin Chinese and Russian lessons. After CE children in Year 8 are encouraged to explore another language and Duolingo has seen several making very good progress in Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch and Gaelic, for example!
Whilst the primary emphasis of our language teaching is to develop the ability to use the target language effectively for the purposes of practical communication, we believe that the learning of French offers children a comprehensive series of valuable experiences, which cover the major areas of learning:
1. Aesthetic: French offers an appreciation of the sound of spoken human speech, and offers the opportunity for a child to create her own sound patterns.
2. Ethical: By studying the culture of France and the Francophone World, a child should become sensitive to the differences between cultures and thereby sensitive to herself and her own culture.
3. Linguistic: French offers communication through listening, speaking, reading and writing. Through the study of a foreign language, a child will become more aware of her own language.
4. Mathematical and scientific: The learning of French involves the breaking of codes, familiarisation with symbols and the building of one’s own codes through experiment, using formulae and problem-solving. One forms an awareness of pattern and the ability to use symbols with confidence.
5. Social and political: Communication in French gives the pupil the opportunity to relate to others within the peer group and in wider areas, thereby facilitating the development of social relationships within her own culture and in relation to another culture.
6. Spiritual and moral: Through French and the study of culture in the Francophone World a child will develop an awareness and a tolerance of others, working in close proximity with her contemporaries, either as an individual or in a group, thereby learning to feel closer to and to work with fellow human beings in general.
In addition learning French is a cumulative process, which, if rewarded often in the early stages, will motivate children to further success. Children are stretched intellectually, horizons are widened and new areas of knowledge and experience are opened up, giving personal satisfaction and a sense of achievement to all children regardless of SEND. Cross-curricular opportunities are presented for the reinforcement of knowledge, skills and understanding developed in other curriculum areas, such as:
English and Literacy: developing speaking and listening skills and understanding grammatical structures, skimming, scanning, contextualisation, giving and justifying opinions, inference, idiom, communication, planning, organising, composing, revising.
Mathematics and Numeracy and Science: counting, calculations, time, dates, money, codes, formulae, symbols, prediction, analysis.
Music: songs (including singing with children at Ecole Ste Marie, Valognes), intonation.
ICT: resources for acquisition of language, communication and research, (including email / penfriend link in LVI with Collège Maréchal Leclerc, Puteaux, Nr Paris.)
History: awareness of key historical events.
Geography: appreciation of different countries and cultures (including penfriend link with Collège Lechanteur, Caen and residential trips to France in Years 6 and 8.)
Scripture: appreciation of different religious ideas and customs.
PSHE: development of a sense of self-belief, development of inter and intra-personal skills, appreciation of the richness and diversity of other cultures, customs and values and developing awareness of world events and starting the process of equipping a child to take up her place as a global citizen in the 21st Century.
As a department we follow the aims of the ISEB syllabus, which is based on the aims and subject content outlined in the National Curriculum for Key Stages 2 and 3, which we support.