All boys in Years 3-8 learn French. The aim of the French Department is to instil a love of the French language. An enthusiasm for the language and culture of France, and other francophone countries, is nurtured and encouraged by members of staff, who are highly qualified and committed. The wealth of individual experience of learning languages, which improves analytical skills, increases creativity and engenders positive attitude towards others. It can open up options for the future, in terms of both work and travel.
In Year 3 the boys experience a mostly relaxed and occasionally lively introduction to French. There is an increasing use of the Target Language, with songs and visuals, and authentic teaching resources in the classroom. The boys are exposed to a balance of each of the four skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. These skills are taught in the context of the Common Entrance topics, including family, home, daily routine and free-time as well as key vocabulary, sounds and grammar.
The boys’ skills in the language continue to be nurtured by fun-filled activities. There is an emphasis on comprehension of reading and listening material, along with grammar and accuracy of written and oral expression. New themes such as towns, regions, shopping, holiday activities and the weather extend the boys’ vocabulary and understanding of the French Language. They are formally introduced to verb conjugations and begin to make purposeful use of the verbs avoir and être. Our residential Trip to Northern France in Year 6 is obviously a highlight of the French curriculum; boys get first-hand experience of life in France, they speak and listen to French and immerse themselves in the French way of life.
At this stage, the boys are encouraged to develop further their pronunciation and intonation, and to use more complex structures to enhance meaning. They develop good dictionary and reference skills and learn to assess their own work and the work of others against success criteria. The boys are exposed to more verb tenses and the grammar learnt during the first years is analysed in more detail and consolidated in a personalised learning environment. Small class sizes go a long way towards making this a realistic goal. Topics studied so far are revisited and range from school life to environmental issues. Lessons and prep are enriched by useful language-learning sites such as Linguascope, Languages Online and Quizlet. The boys are well prepared for their respective future schools, armed not only with a good understanding of French but also the skills and enthusiasm to go ahead and learn other languages.