All students have the opportunity to learn French, in addition to Spanish from Year 7 and continue doing so in Years 8 and 9. They are taught two lessons of French a week, increasing to three when they opt to carry on with this language, as one of their choices of GCSE. Students learn key phrases and expressions through songs, games, role-play and classroom routines. In addition to learning vocabulary and common expressions, our girls also are introduced to French culture and literature.
Throughout KS3 and KS4, two homework assignments are set on a weekly basis; one learning activity and a more extensive piece of work, such as reading comprehension, a writing task or a grammar exercise. At GCSE level, students focus on increasing their vocabulary and their grammatical knowledge, while developing the ability to write extensive pieces of work and gain confidence in manipulating the language orally, as required by the examination board used – Edexcel. It is possible to study two languages and as such, we have had a number of dual linguists.
At A level, our students have 11 lessons a fortnight, in addition to a weekly session with our French Language Assistant. Literature and film are exciting features of the course. The film studied in Year 12 is Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles, with students then moving on to L’Étranger by Camus in Year 13.
We offer trips to the theatre, conferences and to the cinema, also benefiting from the language events and French resources at L’Institut Français, which is in close proximity. Students can also apply to attend a biannual trip abroad to a region in France, or the Activities Week visits to Paris, in the summer term. For those who prefer to stay closer to home, there is the option of attending our French lunch club and experiencing the culture and language interactively.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7, French lessons aim to develop skills that will enable the students to communicate at a basic level in the target language. We recognise that our learners will have different starting points based on their experience of French at primary school. Although, at first, the main emphasis is on receptive skills such as listening and reading, the students are soon expected to perform role-plays, sing songs, write short messages and decode spoken or written texts. Regular ER verbs, as well as a number of essential irregular verbs, are introduced including: être, avoir, aller and faire. Although students mainly use the 1st person conjugation, when communicating opinion, habits and action, we also encourage the more idiomatic use of ‘on’. Students are able to take charge of their learning by accessing the topic lists vocabulary glossaries in advance, to support research and revision.
In Year 8, students are expected to develop their listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in French. The course is divided into 5 units of work, each covering a different theme, which parallel the Studio 2 Rouge course. The topics covered include: leisure, holidays, relationships, and local area. We also enjoy finding out more about Paris and other French regions. Role plays and mini presentations afford the class to develop their speaking skills and all in all, students should make the most of the opportunity to try out their French in the classroom setting, communicating with their peers and teachers. The course coverage at this stage includes more challenging grammar such as reflexive verbs and the past tense, giving our learners more confidence and courage to use key aspects of the French language.
In Year 9 students are supported in developing further the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. We follow the main topics in the Studio 3 course (rouge), as well as looking ahead to the more challenging components of the GCSE Studio textbook. The themes selected are relevant to our students not just as linguists, but also as young people in their own right, particularly the popular theme on work and employment, in which our learners consider what they would like to be when they grow up, possible pathways, the pros and cons of jobs, revisiting childhood dreams and articulating ideal jobs. The ability to do this in French, acquiring the conditional tense and the imperfect tenses is all the more pertinent. Ultimately, students will have the choice to continue studying French or Spanish at GCSE, with a number of students opting to become dual linguists.
Key Stage 4
Students studying French in Years 10 & 11 follow the Edexcel GCSE syllabus.
During Year 10 they cover a range of topics such as: family and traditional celebrations in French-speaking countries, hobbies, local area and holidays. The aim of the course is to encourage communicative skills both orally and in writing. In Year 10, students complete their first GCSE mock exam, which includes all four skills (writing, reading, listening and speaking). The focus is on developing their vocabulary further, going into more depth over grammatical structures they will need to master in order to communicate both in speaking and in writing, as well as on the introduction of a cultural insight of the French world through literature, music and films. Practice past papers are used to help them gradually understand the content of the Year 11 examination for the listening, reading and writing skills. We also study the skills and strategies required for the speaking exam and the students put these to good use in their first mock oral in which they describe pictures, enact a role play scenario, present a topic and participate in a general conversation.
During the course of Year 11, students will cover the remaining GCSE topics amongst which are: holidays, education, the world of work and the environment. The aim of the course is to encourage communicative skills both orally and in writing and the course will also include further examination practice such as higher-tier papers and mock exams for the oral component. Students are supported in their preparation for the speaking exam which comprises a role play, picture-based task, a short presentation and a general conversation. Students are expected to complete and build on their revision of the conversation booklet, noting key ideas, advanced vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. The high-level study of grammar in both Years 10 and 11 contribute towards the skills and strategies needed for the translation paper, into French and into English, equipping our learners as confident linguists for GCSE, A Level and beyond.
Key Stage 5
What will I Study?
In addition to lessons spent on the various literary and linguistic tasks, strong commitment outside the classroom is expected, in terms of reading for pleasure, visits to the theatre and cinema and study visits to France. Students will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding of target-language culture by exploring several aspects of that culture and the French-speaking world. They will have a wide range of topics including contemporary themes of the changing family structure to controversial topics on immigration and integration. Students enjoy the novelty and challenge of reading literary works and studying French film. A trip to France, taking place every two years, either to Paris or to the Loire Valley provides further opportunity for the pupils to develop their language skills and enhance their cultural knowledge.
How will I be assessed?
At A Level students will be assessed as follows in accordance with the Edexcel course:
Unit 1: Listening, Reading and Writing (May/June)
40% of the A Level
Unit 2: Written Response to Works and Translation (May/June)
2 hours 40 minutes
30% of the A Level
Unit 3: Speaking (April/May)
30% of the A Level
In a world where the knowledge of an additional language is increasingly becoming a valued asset, students with an A level in French will have access to a wider range of careers. These include working for the European institutions, international business, teaching, translation and the tourism and leisure industry.
What are the entry requirements?
A minimum of a grade 7 at GCSE French is required. The course calls for full commitment, both in and outside of lessons to build confidence, proficiency and accuracy. The French language, culture and literature will prove to be a stimulating area of study and excellent training for higher education.
A Modern Language can be a very useful qualification combined with other subjects, especially in light of the new opportunities in the UK and abroad. A number of universities offer courses combining a subject with French, in an effort to prepare students to become the international political and business leaders of tomorrow.