Why learn a language?
The UK is becoming an increasingly multi-cultural society and learning a language is therefore, not only very important, but also gives our pupils the edge in an ever competitive working world. It also helps them understand their own language and culture better through comparison, to understand how other people think, and to help to get a general understanding of our world and the many people and cultures that inhabit it.
French is the main modern language taught with other languages available as co-curricular clubs. Latin is introduced in Year 6
We aim to:
- Foster a love of languages and the confidence to have a go.
- Introduce pupils to the French language and culture as well as to French speaking countries and cultures.
- Develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing such that by the age of 11, pupils are able to communicate effectively at the level of their own ability in the foreign language.
- Foster the acquisition of study skills, particularly the use of initiative, that is also applicable in other study areas.
- French is taught from Year 3 to Year 6, with a more formal approach being integrated in Year 5, with an increased focus on writing alongside reading, listening and speaking.
There is a very successful and enjoyable outdoors challenge trip to Normandy in Year 6, which is shared with boys from Monmouth School Boys’ Prep. We also welcome pupils from the Lycée Ombrosa in Lyon each year.
French in Year 3 is all about creating a sense of enjoyment and confidence in the language. Lessons are dynamic and varied, making full use of song, rhyme, physical activity, games and much more. The girls are exposed to a high level of natural, spoken French and are encouraged to develop the skills to decipher meaning from context and to remain calm in the face of a barrage of language! The atmosphere is supportive and girls aid each other in their learning. Topics covered range from greetings, colours, number and practical information to talking about pets, likes and dislikes, food and drink and family. Through the topics, the pupils are introduced to the idea of key grammatical elements such as gender, position of words in a sentence, agreement of adjectives and the like, setting them up for a successful language learning experience throughout the school. They are encouraged to be language detectives and explore their own language through French as well as making connections to other languages of the world.
In Year 4, the fun continues and girls are introduced more to the written word, whilst still firmly concentrating on communicating orally and an active use of the language. Topics covered include parts of the body, more number work, playground games and activities, the home, in town and shops and shopping. Grammatical concepts explore possessives, verb patterns, imperatives and continued work on gender. The girls are encouraged to create assemblies and presentations in French and work in maths is consolidated using the foreign language, for example, working with time. The study of the use of French throughout the world allows for links with the Geography, History and PSHE curricula.
In Year 5, the girls start to look at more detailed texts and learn to deal with deducing meaning from them. Topics covered move on to fairy tales, holidays, sports and pastimes and the grammar starts to move on to varied tenses. Detective skills in this year group are honed by examining English for more precise meanings and the girls come to an understanding of the concept of many different tenses in their own language. Sentence structure starts to lengthen and many of the grammatical concepts and vocabulary taught previously is revisited to promote confidence in the language. Lessons are still very active with the girls making use of role play and videoing to improve their ability. Laughter is still the main sound coming from the classroom –with a definite French accent!
In Year 6 the girls go to France on an activity trip, which we share with our partner school for boys, “The Grange”. They spend a week fully immersed in the language and progress is swift. The range of vocabulary covered is enormous, but pupils absorb it at an astonishing rate due to the nature of the physical and fun activities. The trip combines elements of the History and Geography curricula as visits to WW2 sites are included and provides the pupils with the chance to share experiences across the two schools. Following the trip, much stimulus is in place for follow up work and pupils are helped to produce written accounts of their stay. Verb work continues and a global view is taken, looking at food, customs and learning about Francophone countries. As the girls look ahead to the teenage years, topics such as “helping around the home” are introduced to help the girls towards an understanding that they too can be involved in this side of family life! Sadly, vocabulary associated with parties and the weekend does tend to be rather more popular. However, household tasks provide an ideal way to practise the negative!