“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.” Ludwig Wittgenstein
At Eaton Square School, children benefit from being introduced to French at an early age. They begin in Transition or Reception at age four and children continue to study the language until the Common Entrance in Year Eight.
The aims of teaching French at Eaton Square School are as follows:
- To teach children to recognise and understand French in the spoken and the written form of the language.
- To teach children to communicate in French using the spoken and the written form of the language.
- To give children a thorough linguistic training that will aid them in learning other foreign languages.
- To increase the children’s cultural awareness through learning about the history, geography, arts and popular culture of France and other Francophone countries.
- To stimulate the natural intellectual curiosity of children and to encourage them to become independent learners.
- To foster positive attitudes towards foreign cultures: and, to support the multi-cultural atmosphere of the school by encouraging the children to make linguistic links between other languages and French.
From Transition up to Year Two, the children are introduced to French primarily through exposure to the spoken language. This consists of learning vocabulary and language patterns through active individual participation in songs (often using actions), finger rhymes, story telling, drawing, colouring and acting. Lessons use a multi-sensory and stimulating approach that appeals to the different learning styles of individual children.
In Key Stage Two, the children start developing their reading skills and they start learning French grammar and cultural facts. From Year Four, the children begin studying written French more closely and begin to learn spellings and simple grammatical constructions. This continues in Years Five and Six, when the children begin to lay the foundations for Common Entrance, increasing the richness of their vocabulary and focussing on form verbs in a variety of tenses.
In Year Seven and Eight pupils will commence the Common Entrance Syllabus. The four examinable skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking are used every week. The children are encouraged to take an interest in Francophone culture at all times and this provides the necessary context and motivation for their studies.
Pupils from Years 3 to 8 are given one set of homework per week. This might consist of simple word and picture activities for the younger children, and grammar drills or the preparation of a presentation for the older children.
Assessment is an ongoing process during lessons, as teachers assess pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills from their oral answers to questions as well as their written work. Formal oral or written assessment exams are set twice a term for Year Three to Year Eight.
The children are given the opportunity to practise the language during various trips to France from Year Four to Year Seven, including a ski trip to La Clusaz, France where pupils practise speaking the language in context and also have daily French lessons. Pupils in Year Six go on a day trip to Paris.
In Year Seven the pupils are encouraged to further French language development with a further immersion in an extended trip away. In the past this has been to a Chateau in SW France and this year we are hoping to move the pupils a little closer to home with an extended stay at another Chateau in Normandy, NE France. All staff there are French and all activities and lessons are conducted in the target language.