Learning another language is a real-world skill. It enhances our powers of communication, builds confidence and cultivates connections with others. At Strand, our learners become attuned to the rhythm, intonation and vocabulary of French. They develop their understanding of culture. They get to consider similarities and differences to English and, in so doing, gain a deeper understanding of how language works.
The National Curriculum for languages sets out the principles for study which at Strand we’ve applied to the teaching of French as a modern foreign language (MFL).
Children learn the beginnings of the language, both spoken and written, and also increase their knowledge of France’s geography and culture.
As Britain’s nearest neighbour, France is a destination that many of our learners experience first hand. It is also a major language of international relations that is spoken on every continent.
Through a process of presentation, production and practice, teaching continuously focuses on listening and speaking as children learn to respond to what they hear and develop their capacity to express ideas in French.
Alongside these practical skills of verbal communication, content also includes accurate reading of the language as well as writing familiar words, phrases and sentences.
The Strand French curriculum develops three core threads of learning:
Pronunciation: the speech sounds and articulation of the language. This includes a focus on important differences from English.
Vocabulary: knowledge and recall of word meanings
Grammar: the rules, patterns and conventions that govern word order, word forms and sentence structure
These threads are interwoven into a series of thematic units. In Year 3, themes include the alphabet, numbers and the family. By Year 6 children are taught to give directions and how to tell the time in French. An aspect of French culture is studied in each year group. This includes a focus on different localities within France.
French is one of our subject specialisms. This means it is taught by a subject expert, not the class teacher. Our bi-lingual specialist provides French to every class across the school for a half hour lesson. In order to timetable this, we run a rolling programme through which three year groups receive French lessons in a half term. That means that over the course of an academic year, Year 3 and 6 have four blocks of weekly French lessons and Year 4 and 5 have five half-termly blocks of French. Where specialist teaching is not scheduled, time is allocated to consolidate and practise prior learning through sequenced video lessons and activities that recall previous teaching.
Continuity of study
Beyond Year 6, Strand children transfer to over 20 different secondary settings. This makes it
challenging to plan for continuity of study. However, Chiswick School, our most popular destination, offers French within their language provision so many of our learners will continue to build on their French knowledge in Year 7. Where this isn’t the case, we are confident that the knowledge of language structures, along with the skills, attitudes and habits of language learning acquired as part of the Strand French curriculum will effectively pave the way for the future study of another foreign language.
Sequence and Progression
Within a unit, learning is often sequenced from the word to the sentence level. Items of vocabulary are introduced before being assimilated into phrases that can be connected into sentences and ultimately into segments of dialogue. As each step is presented, children respond by producing and practising the language themselves.
Over the longer term, the progression of unit themes extends learning through breadth and complexity. Children get better at French as they encounter more conventions of pronunciation, they memorise more vocabulary and they learn to follow the increasingly complex grammatical patterns that underpin each unit.
To ensure learning grows cumulatively, themes are sequenced to allow for opportunities to build on specific language points and vocabulary that have been introduced in previous years. For example, Year 4 children learn to express likes and dislikes in relation to different sports. In Year 5 this is taken a step further when looking at food and using phrases to express a range of opinions – I like, dislike, love, hate, don’t mind and so on.
Click here to see a PDF of our progression model