At Throckley Primary School, we know that the study of a modern foreign language enhances children’s literacy, self-confidence and broader cultural understanding. Our ambition to embed language learning within our curriculum is born of the statutory commitment in the National Curriculum to give every child between the ages of 7 and 11 the opportunity to learn a new language. With over 220 million speakers internationally, French is the second most widely learnt language after English. French is also the second most widely taught language after English- the only two languages spoken on every continent. The importance of outstanding modern foreign language provision is embodied in our curriculum drivers:
-Understanding our place in the world
Given that 60-70% of the world’s population is bilingual, acquiring another language is a crucial asset in the global economy, an advantage for finding a job with the many multinational companies, in a wide range of sectors: retailing, automotive, luxury goods, aeronautics, etc. Simultaneously, children gain a better perspective of their own country and locality, making comparisons and contrasts.
-Aspiring to achieve
Learning French provides a satisfying, enjoyable and intellectually challenging experience for children in coping with a different linguistic medium. The study of a language involves the practice of observational and study skills, and committing to memory useful material for subsequent recall: essential skills for higher education.
Thanks to the development of computing and the Internet, we can improve and deepen our connections with the world, celebrate languages and the diversity of cultures and promote international and intercultural experiences. By taking children out of a pervasively English context, we ensure they can explore the life-style and culture of another land through the medium of its language.
Our key concepts at Throckley underpin and illustrate the purpose of studying French as teaching throughout the school draws upon an ever-evolving real-world context for its content. Children explore:
By valuing their place in a global community, children develop an international outlook and ambition for the future. The prospect of forging relations with Francophone economies such as Ivory Coast, Senegal, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Burkina Faso, (growth above 5% GDP: IMF-2019) promotes prosperity. Just as important are the bonds we form via reading, travel, recreation and personal contacts.
Besides teaching the meaning of words and sentences (an awareness of language), learning a language promotes social interaction and fosters empathy towards the culture and people of a foreign country, by adjusting our thinking to different social conventions. Such an outlook champions goodwill and counters insularity and prejudice.
Learning a language enables us to forge positive change with the most powerful tool: communication between people. Success in industry and commerce depends increasingly on our willingness and ability to communicate with potential customers in their own language. More importantly, we ensure children become confident, global citizens, avert conflict and promote multilateral harmony.
In French, children will learn to:
- read fluently;
- write imaginatively;
- speak confidently;
- and understand the culture of the countries in which the language is spoken.
We aim to ensure that children:
- understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources;
- speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation;
- can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt;
- and discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the French language.
By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study. At Throckley, we use the Catherine Cheater scheme of work, which emphasises the following principles:
- ensure every child succeeds;
- build on what the learners already know;
- make learning vivid and real;
- make learning an enjoyable and challenging experience.
The scheme implements a threefold curriculum structure developed from the (2005) The Key Stage 2 Framework for Languages:
Oracy (listening, speaking and spoken interaction) has a more prominent place in language learning than in other subjects. All learners acquire language through exposure, enabling them to assimilate and re-use it. From an early age, children should be given regular and frequent opportunities to listen to the new language enabling them to identify and distinguish new sounds, reproduce and re-use them and make links between the sounds and written forms.
Literacy (reading and writing) is supported by, and reinforces. the development of oracy. Whilst overwhelming if incorrectly implemented, the measured introduction of literacy skills as part of a rich learning environment, stimulates communication and understanding in speech and writing.
A language and its culture are inextricably linked. Children value cultural variety: through traditional songs, stories and rhymes; through contact with native speakers; and through the language itself. By learning a new language, children are compelled to take an interest in the lives of others and to develop a sensitivity to the similarities and differences between peoples, their daily lives, their beliefs and values. In this way, children can appreciate the customs and traditions of another culture, as they appreciate its language.
Key Stage 2: Foreign Language
The teaching of a foreign language should provide an appropriate balance of spoken and written language and should lay the foundations for further foreign language teaching at Key Stage 3. It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing, focused on familiar and routine matters, using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary. The focus of study in modern languages will be on practical communication.
Pupils should be taught to:
- listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding;
- explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words;
- engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help;
- speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures;
- develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases;
- present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences;
- read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing;
- appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language;
- broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary;
- write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly;
- describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing;
- understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied, including (where relevant): feminine, masculine and neuter forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.
Oracy and Literacy Skills Development
The emphasis in Year 3 is very much on developing listening skills, closely followed by speaking skills; this is why there is a clear focus on storytelling, finger rhymes and singing traditional songs. Through immersion, there is a strong emphasis on text level work, together with developing strategies of learning vocabulary at word level.
In Year 4, the emphasis shifts to developing an understanding of basic French grammar such as knowledge of word classes, agreements and some verb forms. The children learn to construct sentences and to understand the implications of sentence building in French in terms of pronunciation, liaison and elision.
In Year 5, there is a strong emphasis on the development of fundamental reading and writing skills rooted in phonics and training in how to use a bilingual dictionary. Teaching uses story books, modern and traditional songs and non-fiction texts to sustain the development of oracy and literacy skills. The children create complex spoken sentences and write using writing frames, creating sentences with nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions.
In Year 6, the children’s performance skills are developed. They are able to construct spoken and written sentences that involve a wide range of word class and to use a dictionary in order to find the vocabulary that they need. They are able to engage with a wide variety of text types and develop strategies to assist with understanding.
In Lower Key Stage 2, children are exposed to simple phrases, clauses and sentences, with guidance to help them identify nouns, adjectives and verbs. By Year 5, each lesson develops reading skills via a structured scheme. Throughout Years 5 and 6, the structured reading scheme introduces all the phonemes together with all the spelling patterns. This aims to help the children to read all kinds of texts with accurate pronunciation and a degree of fluency.
In order to develop good intonation and enunciation, the children continue to listen to story books and start to read story books to others. Age-appropriate texts build word, phrase and sentence recognition to develop fluency. Texts range from traditional tales, songs, stories, plays and non-fiction texts across a wide range of genres: comedy, drama, horror and science.
Developing Intercultural Understanding
Throughout Key Stage 2, children are provided with rich, cross-curricular opportunities to discover aspects of French and international Francophone cultures via the study of rich stories and significant figures. They will encounter and compare diverse social customs and traditions; look at everyday life from a different perspective; study the history of France from pre-historic times to the present day; appreciate the lives and work of great figures and significant poeple such as Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Matisse, Renoir, Magritte, Seurat, Manet and Pissaro; and listen to and discuss the music of Debussy, Ravel and Chopin and ask how the émigré status of the latter affected his composition.