FrenchThe Languages Department think differently simply by being a group of polyglots! Several theories exist about the relationship between thinking and multilingualism.

Some research suggests that as language learners we are less biased when we make decisions in a foreign language because of our greater emotional distance compared with when we use our native tongue. It has also been claimed that a nation’s thought processes are heavily influenced by the grammatical structure of the native language. Whatever you believe, being multilingual helps with multitasking,  problem-solving, communicating and empathising.

The teachers in the Languages department speak several languages and we think differently in every one we speak!

Year 9

The main aim in Year 9 is to build upon and revise skills learned in previous schools. We want to encourage our learners to communicate with other speakers of the language. We aim to promote the enjoyment of learning a language for its own sake and to provide intellectual stimulation.

What will I learn?

With access to several language learning websites and applications, pupils are encouraged to practise their language skills outside of the classroom using authentic materials such as film and song. Our aim is to ensure that Year 9 have all the skills to begin the GCSE course with confidence in Year 10.

GCSE Years 10 and 11

What will I learn?

At GCSE the emphasis is on practical skills for use in specific circumstances. We aim to enhance understanding and expression in French – increasing vocabulary, and the ability to use it accurately. As students develop linguistically they will be expected to cope with a degree of unpredictability, understand a wide range of vocabulary, discuss issues and give opinions, and give full descriptions and accounts. We hope to cover each of the four skills every week (listening, reading, writing and speaking). Students are expected to learn vocabulary weekly, and are tested on a regular basis. In lessons, they will participate in pair work, group work, individual study, self and peer assessment.

There are exams at the end of two years of study in listening, reading, writing and speaking. Each of these is awarded 25% of the total marks.

A Level Years 12 and 13

The study of French requires students to take an interest in all aspects of Francophone culture, from art and architecture, through to politics and social issues, film and literature. Through debate and discussion you will develop oral fluency and conversation skills and you will be encouraged to read from, watch and listen to as many authentic sources as you can.

What do I need before starting this course? Before starting the course it is essential that you have at least a grade 6 in French at GCSE. We hope that you will have visited France, and have some ideas about the culture. If you have been on an exchange you will be at an advantage. We recommend that you spend at least part of one holiday with a French family. You also need to have an opinion about everything!

What will I learn? 

In the first year you will study contemporary society, looking at diversity and the benefits it brings. You will study the rich cultural heritage of French-speaking countries, including francophone music and cinema. You will also explore the influence of the past on present-day French-speaking communities. You will study texts and film and have the opportunity to carry out independent research on an area of your choice. Grammar is an important part of the course, but we try and make it as pain free as possible. You will learn to express yourselves fluently and accurately in French. You will be encouraged to speak French at all times in class. Every other year there is a cultural and educational four day visit to Paris.

How is the course structured and assessed? 

Classes are conducted in the target language, but the more complex structures will generally be explained in English. There are seven lessons a week, and usually a class will have two teachers, each teaching three or four lessons. There is a great emphasis on class participation, research and presentations. There are also conversation classes which you will need to attend. The course is linear and all examinations take place at the end of the second year. You are assessed in all four skills. In your second year, you will conduct an independent research project and prepare to discuss your findings as part of the speaking assessment. There are translations into French and English and you must be prepared to deal with literary texts as well as factual articles. The written paper will require you to answer an essay question on the film and the novel you have studied.

Where next?