We aim to develop every child’s ability to understand and communicate effectively in the target language while promoting cultural awareness and tolerance. Although grammatical accuracy is strongly encouraged, we focus on developing the pupils’ confidence and ability to use the language independently and spontaneously through creative activities and fun language games. Every child’s effort and participation is valued and individual successes are celebrated, irrespective of the pupil’s ability.
French is a core subject at Langley Preparatory School at Taverham Hall. It is introduced in Year 2, and then fully included in the Prep School curriculum all the way to Year 8 when students prepare for the Common Entrance or/and Scholarship examinations required by senior schools.
Pupils study five key areas throughout their time here at our Taverham Hall site:
- Personal description, family, friends, pets and meeting people
- House, home, town, local area, daily routine and chores
- Free time, transport, weather, tourist information and holiday activities
- Life and work at school, jobs, future plans
- Food, drink, health, clothes, shopping, numbers and prices.
We use a variety of home-made resources, dipping in and out of “So you really want to learn French” published by Galore Park and other ISEB publications occasionally to support our scheme of work. In addition, we use a range of French magazines, language DVDs, story books, interactive language websites (linguascope) and other up-to-the-minute materials to maximise exposure to authentic texts and recordings.
In our effort to personalise the children’s learning, self and peer assessments are used on a regular basis and a wide variety of activities – many of them facilitated by our interactive whiteboards – enable us to keep enthusiasm and motivation high, while catering for all learning styles. Listening, reading, speaking and writing skills are developed equally, and activities and expectations are tailored to the needs of all children, whatever their ability.
Every effort is made to develop the children’s cultural awareness and their appreciation of French history, traditions and customs.
Language Awareness Programme
From Year 6, for those pupils for whom learning French presents a number of difficulties, we offer a newly launched Language Awareness Programme which replaces the more traditional preparation to the challenging French Common Entrance examination. The pupils study the basics of several languages, starting with German and Japanese, and the programme aims to:
- make language learning fun
- give pupils an understanding of how to learn different languages
- develop listening skills and stimulate communication
- promote cultural and linguistic diversity
The programme focusses on:
- listening and communication skills with minimal practice of reading/writing
- universal language learning skills, which will cross-reference with consolidating literacy basics in English
- providing children with a wider cultural awareness about the world
European Day of Languages
Multiculturalism is a key feature of our modern world and we celebrate the European Day of Languages every year in September with special assemblies, European lunch menus, karaoke in different languages, quizzes and various inter-house competitions such as a Treasure Hunt in French around the grounds and a pétanque tournament. More recently, we extended our celebrations world wide with a carousel of workshops led by some of our parents whose foreign origins brought an authentic taste to the sessions they led on New Zealand, Portugal, Thailand, Korea, Australia, South Africa, Ukraine, Cuba, USA, Romania, Mexico and Holland. Our school community is truly multi-cultural.
We invite a Professional Language Theatre Company to perform a play in French in front of our younger learners every year. This always provides the children with a great boost of confidence and offers invaluable opportunities for cultural awareness. Last year, the Onatti Theatre Company delighted our young audience with “Shipwrecked en France”, the funny story of a special friendship between an English boy and a French girl.
Parents of Year 2 pupils are invited to a French breakfast every year in June. They enjoy being waited on by their children (in French!) and can enjoy a musical treat of traditional French songs, performed by our little budding Francophiles!
Trips to France in Years 7 and 8
Trips to France are essential to provide the children with authentic opportunities to practise their linguistic skills in real-life situations and they also help to broaden their cultural awareness. In 2008 Years 7 and 8 spent four activity-packed days on the Opal Coast, where they had many opportunities to interview real French people and get a taste for life in France. In 2009, pupils explored the French capital, Paris, a trip which was repeated again in June 2012. This was followed by a residential trip to Château Beaumont in October 2013 and La Grand’ Ferme, Normandy in 2015.
Junior Language Challenge and Linguatrivia competition
Opportunities for talented linguists are offered on an annual basis through the Junior Language Challenge organised by Eurotalk and the Year 7 Grand Défi competition led by Linguascope. We have had a number of regional and national finalists who have shown themselves capable of teaching themselves the basics of some genuinely challenging languages such as Vietnamese and Chichewa!