“Learning a language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way”. Frank Smith
At St Michael’s, we introduce you and your children to the enjoyment and benefits of learning a foreign language and discovering another culture early on. We teach French from Reception to Common Entrance. Learning French here is lively, varied and enjoyable and will give your child the capability and confidence to understand and use French for effective communication. They then develop the ability to understand what they hear and read, and to express themselves accurately in speech and writing. Our children tend to vary widely in their aptitude for French: we are therefore sensitive to their particular strengths or weaknesses, providing differentiated tasks or extra help as necessary. Nonetheless we give the classroom an overall sense of coherence and structure in delivering the syllabus. Your child will also have the opportunity to use their French successfully through a fantastic array of trips and activities.
- In Year 3, we continue with a more aural/oral approach, with emphasis on helping pupils to learn and pronounce everyday vocabulary and sentences correctly. We use lots of repetition, games, flashcards and worksheets. We also start introducing some basic grammar concepts.
- In Year 4, there is increasing emphasis on reading and writing French. Our teachers are sensitive to the pupils’ particular strengths or weaknesses, providing differentiated tasks or extra help as necessary.
- From Year 5 to Year 8, Studio books and our own materials are used in the classroom. The course books lend themselves well to equal practice in the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. We use a variety of teaching methods, including group work, pair work and role-play situations, as well as a number of tools: worksheets, songs, games, iPads.
- In Year 6, we take our pupils to the French Institute in London. We immerse them in French culture for a full day with a linguistic activity in the morning and a French film screening in French in the afternoon.
- In Year 7, we organise a week long study trip to France to give our pupils a real insight into the culture of the language they learn at school. We believe it this an essential complement to teaching the language itself.
- Support your child in finding out about other languages, countries and cultures.
- If you had negative experiences of learning languages, please don’t let these affect your child.
- Try to link your child’s learning to something they are interested in. For example:
- Play computer games in German
- Listen to some Spanish music
- Follow a French cooking recipe
- Look at some Italian fashion magazines
- Learn with/alongside your child. Sign up for local day or evening classes, online lessons, private tuition, or self-learning opportunities.
- Dedicate a particular time each week – e.g. one dinner time – where everyone tries to speak/to say words in the foreign language being studied.
- Read books or watch films that your child is already familiar with in English in a foreign language – e.g. Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean.
- Label items around the house in the foreign language to aid your child’s memory and get them used to day-to-day things. You can vary this and increase the difficulty by swapping the labels around and asking your child to match them to the correct item.
- If your child has a mobile phone, games console, MP3 player etc., switch the settings to the language they are studying.
- Encourage your child to use the Internet (under supervision!) to practise their vocabulary and find out information about other countries. Many games can be found online in a variety of languages and these can help with vocabulary and confidence-building.
- Keep an eye on the Internet/press for details about local events you could take your child to, such as French markets, European days, food festivals etc. Ask them to spot as many foreign words as they can. If they don’t know what a word means, encourage them to look it up when they get home.
- Travel by Eurostar or Shuttle for a day in Lille (only one hour away!) or Paris (two hours away!). You can also visit the French Institute in London. It has a fantastic library, a great cinema and a yummy French café.
- Buy a dictionary app with audio (such as Collins French/English). ‘Favourite’ the new words you find and use them in the games (hangman / flashcards, etc…).