Westhaven School Subject Strategy – Modern Foreign Languages (French)
Our main intent in teaching French is to encourage a love of learning languages and to empower our pupils with the confidence and knowledge to inspire them to visit France and other countries. We want our pupils to be curious about the origins of words, to identify similarities and differences between English and French and to use this knowledge to improve their own levels of literacy. We want to instil in our pupils the confidence to communicate in another language without the fear of making mistakes and to reflect on the differences in traditions, language and culture between France and the UK.
Our curriculum in KS2 and KS3 is topic-based and linked to the themes in the syllabus at Key Stage 4. We do this so that the vocabulary is not only being regularly re-visited, but that it is being built on each time. For example, in KS2, pupils learn the vocabulary for colours in French. They also learn the term cognates, can recognise cognate colours and are introduced to the noun + adjective placement (e.g. un chien blanc). At KS3, pupils use their knowledge of adjectival placement to create longer sentences. They also learn that certain adjectives do not follow this rule and are placed before nouns and that adjectival endings must agree with the gender of the noun.
All pupils study French from years 3 – year 9. In Lower School pupils are taught in mixed ability tutor groups and have one lesson a week. In Middle School, pupils are taught in mixed ability tutor groups and have one lesson a week for three terms a year. We follow the guidance outlined in the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for Modern Foreign Languages.
In Primary, teaching is topic-based and is mainly focused on speaking and listening tasks and typically involves role play, games, singing and responding to short video clips. The focus of learning is on building pupil confidence in speaking, engagement in the language and enjoyment. Basic grammar concepts such as masculine and feminine nouns, cognates and the difference between “tu” and “vous” are introduced. Pupils mainly learn through whole-class and small group teaching.
At Key Stage 3, teaching continues to be topic-based but there is more focus on reading, writing and grammar. Pupils are expected to produce extended writing (with varying levels of support) and are taught how to use bilingual dictionaries and online tools to broaden their vocabulary. The basic grammar rules taught in primary are built on, for example, pupils are taught how to change adjectival endings according to the gender of nouns. Songs and games continue to be used for some pupils to encourage engagement and enjoyment and to improve pronunciation. Authentic reading and listening resources are used to validate the teaching focus. Higher ability pupils are taught the skills of translation, transcribing and preparing role plays and monologues to prepare them for further study at Key Stage 4. Pupils learn through pair work, group work, individual work and whole class teaching.
At Key Stage 4, French is an optional subject. Pupils are taught in smaller, mixed ability groups and have the opportunity to achieve the AQA FCSE qualification. Teaching continues to be topic-based, developing the vocabulary learnt since primary. Building on the grammar introduced at Key Stage 3, there is a specific focus on communicating in the present, past and future tenses and expressing opinions and reasons. Pupils practise the skills of translation, transcribing, preparing role plays and performing monologues introduced at Key Stage 3 to prepare them for the FCSE assessments.
In line with the school feedback policy, pupils’ work is marked during lessons, this enables teachers to assess continually and to act on any misconceptions quickly.
Pupils are assessed informally at KS2 using the French learning ladders. The learning ladders are based on the outcomes outlined in the NC Programme of Study in Modern Foreign Languages and cover the four strands in French – listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each lesson has a clear Learning Intention (LI) for each pupil (taken from the learning ladders) and teachers assess their work against the LI. If the LI has not been met, it will be revisited at a later date, if a pupil has met the LI, this will be inputted onto the system and the pupil will work towards a different LI in the next lesson. Some LI’s will take a series of lessons to meet, for example to meet the outcome “S2.4 I can answer questions with short phrases”, pupils would need to demonstrate their competence in this over a series of topics.
At KS3, pupils work towards clear, differentiated LIs (linked to the Learning Ladders) in every lesson but are also assessed more formally in listening, reading, writing and speaking every term. This is to prepare them for the assessments in KS4. Pupils complete listening assessments, prepare monologues and role plays, produce extended pieces of writing and extract information from texts. Each assessment will be linked to an outcome from the learning ladder and if a pupil does not meet the outcome, they will have another opportunity in the following term (on a different topic).
At Key Stage 4, pupils follow the FCSE French Full Course qualification. Pupils complete assessments for listening, speaking, reading and writing at the end of each of the 5 topics and enter the results from their best three topics. Assessments are externally set and are carried out by the class teacher during lesson time. Some assessments can be prepared beforehand (such as the monologue) and pupils have been coached in this since KS3. Pupils are able to achieve a pass, merit or distinction at the end of the course and are able to enter a mix of papers at different levels to achieve their final grade. For instance, a pupil may enter a distinction paper for listening and a pass paper for reading.