Learning a modern foreign language is an essential skill in the 21st century. In the French department we find it an exciting and enjoyable challenge for all pupils. It stimulates their natural curiosity to know what everyday objects and actions are called in another language, it provides an intellectual challenge as they work on understanding grammatical structures and it helps to develop the social skill of being able to express themselves confidently. French remains the most widely used foreign language for UK residents because France is our closest continental neighbour, a major EU partner and our favourite holiday destination. Through studying French and visiting France pupils are able to compare aspects of French culture with our own and develop an appreciation of cultural difference and variety. They will gain direct access to the ‘jewels’ of French culture – vibrant cinema, 19th century fiction, the lyrics of Piaf and Brel. Ultimately they develop communicative and analytical skills that are highly desirable across a broad range of careers.
In Years 7 and 8 pupils quickly learn the rules of pronunciation so that they can match sounds to letters and tackle new vocabulary effectively. Through the topics of Family, School, Free time, Home and Holidays they learn the concepts of gender, word order, using the present tense, expressing simple opinions and talking about the future. Year 7 ends with the popular and successful Taster Trip to the Opal Coast where all pupils order their meal in French. Year 8 continues with the introduction of the past tense and topics include Food, Health and Clothes. They make a conscious move towards increasing the complexity of their expression through greater use of connectives and new structures.
In Year 9 pupils continue to build the foundations of core knowledge with the imperfect and future tenses, focusing on comparing towns, life in 1900 and giving advice on healthy living. Assessment begins to prepare pupils for GCSE where they will speak and write at length on topics already familiar from previous years as well as new subjects such as the Environment or New Technologies. They do extensive work to broaden their vocabulary, increase the complexity of their expression and boost oral confidence and fluency. At GCSE we follow the AQA exam specification.
For A Level we follow the new Edexcel specification for the
two-year A Level. In Year 12 students will learn about a range of social issues,
such as the changing role of the family and the French education system, and
cultural trends including music and festivals. They will also study a French film
in depth, learning how to write analytical essays.
In Year 13 students will explore issues around the multicultural nature of
Frenchsociety, and study the Occupation of France and the Resistance during
the Second World War. Essay skills will be extended through in-depth study
of a work of French literature. All four skills will be developed to a high level,
with oral fluency boosted by weekly lessons with our French Conversation
Assistant. The oral exam offers the opportunity for each student to discuss an
aspect of French culture that they have researched independently, developing
skills that will be essential in higher education.
“It’s great to have had such good support and tuition during A Level French prior to starting all this new material” Sixth form student now at Birmingham University studying French