At Pinewood we believe that learning a language is the key to reinforcing communication with people; it also helps children to open their mind to different countries and cultures.
Great emphasis is placed on oral fluency, from year 1 and 2, to an oral exam in Year 6 and 7 and up to the all-important Year 8. Our teaching approach is to develop children’s linguistic competence and confidence. Soon children realise how many cognates there are in English, not to mention the strong heritage of Guillaume’s invasion! French suddenly becomes less of their “bête noire” and by making it as fun and interactive as possible we quickly get “I love French” comments. The best reward for us all is to hear of old Pinewoodians taking their GCSE early and quickly moving to top sets at the strongest public schools.
Cultural awareness is promoted at every opportunity and throughout their different stages at Pinewood the children will be given a flavour of both French and Francophile culture, through films, literary extracts, music and songs, projects on famous French people, regions and renowned products or even through recipes. Within the department the team aims to provide each child with a sound understanding of basic French language and culture, relative to his or her ability. We utilise, within reasonable limits, the target language and whether through role-plays (au marché, au café, treasure hunts…etc) presentations or through ICT support (Linguascope and Boardworks); we are eager to transmit our love and enthusiasm for French.
The department is keen to evolve, but we also consider sound grammar an essential aspect of preparation for successful a Common Entrance or Scholarship exam and the French department has had the highest rate of success within the school for many years.
We base our teaching on varied topics (from me and my family to the world around us) and within our personal styles we also tend to mix and share different resources, ICT, newspapers articles and renowned home-made comprehensions!
We also extend the flavour of French to France itself for Year 7, who have the opportunity to go on a trip to “Le Chateau de Broutel” in La Picardie where the pupils can experience educational and cultural activities, visiting the battlefields of la Somme, going to the local market, making their own mayonnaise or trying frogs legs and snails!
The Year 8 leavers’ trip immerses them in the French Pyrenees where they witness life in a small rural village and take part in an activity based trip including a local “transhumance.”
In Year 8, after their Scholarship and Common Entrance exams, pupils have taster sessions of Italian or Spanish and their foundations of French allow them to both enjoy and appreciate other latinate language.
Header image: Whole School French Day