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Prep French

“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.

The acquisition of a language offers intellectual stimulation and enjoyment. With France just on the other side of the Channel, it is a very useful skill to be able to communicate effectively in French. It can also bring a whole wealth of benefits: cultural, social and professional.
Our younger pupils start French in Reception, as we believe that it is an ideal age as children are very receptive and less inhibited. In Pre-Prep, the emphasis is on aural/oral teaching and we aim to make French lively, varied and enjoyable. Each lesson combines fun with games, songs and activities.
Our children follow the National Curriculum Programme of study through to Year 6, with extension activities to stretch the most able.
  • 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 Years 7 and 8 our pupils build on knowledge established to progress towards the Common Entrance Exams while continuing to practise the four language skills – listening, speaking , reading and writing with native French speakers. French is used as much as possible as the main language in the class. Through a communicative approach and enjoyable, age-appropriate activities, they extend their vocabulary, study more complex grammatical concepts and learn more about the French culture.
Our bilingual French pupils are taught separately to allow them to continue developing their mother tongue. They follow a scheme of work based on the French National Curriculum and are taught by native teachers. Oral skills are developed further and bilingual pupils consolidate their existing knowledge of French, learning the most advanced aspects of French grammar, conjugation and spelling. Meanwhile, their vocabulary and written expression are enhanced by the study of French books and texts. We also encourage their creative writing.
At St Michael’s, we continuously look for ways to bring languages alive. Several events take place during the year, which add enjoyment to learning languages and discovering other cultures, such as European Day of Languages, French Day and language competitions.
We also encourage our pupils to put their French into practice:
  • 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…).