At Worthington Primary School, we provide all children in Key Stage 2 with the opportunity to learn French. We aim for the children to develop a love and appreciation of language, so they can feel confident in going on to learn other languages. Learning a foreign language improves understanding of a child's first language, as we compare and contrast words in the first and second language, and spot connections between words. There are numerous opportunities to reinforce understanding of essential English grammatical content, as we start to examine grammar points in the target language. Eg. at a simple level, identifying nouns and adjectives in sentences, going on to examine pronouns, and different verb endings, depending on the pronoun associated with the verb. The starting point of teaching these in the target language is to identify and strengthen understanding of these grammar points in English sentences first.
We intend that all children leave primary school with a solid grounding in the target language, and with a range of vocabulary and grammatical understanding, so that they feel a confidence in the four key skills of speaking French, listening to and understanding French, reading French and writing French. Language teaching at primary school should provide a foundation for learning other languages, equipping the children to study and work in other countries, and appreciate other cultures, and the wider world around them.
The teaching is based on a two year rolling scheme of work, with emphasis in Y3 and Y4 being more on developing confidence, and a love of learning language. Children are taught vocabulary and phrases/sentences from a range of subjects such as: introducing themselves, describing themselves, numbers to 31, animals, colours, shops and clothing, as well as some basic grammar points, like the fact that all nouns in French are either Masculine or Feminine, and the adjective usually follows the noun in French, unlike in English.
In Y5 and Y6, more topics are covered, such as: numbers to 100, telling the time, cafe scenarios, asking for directions and expressing emotions, as well as more complex grammar points, such as ensuring adjectives agree with nouns, and conjugating verbs.
We employ a specialist French teacher who delivers weekly French lessons to all children in KS2 to provide an excellent model of the spoken language as well as to involve the children in learning about the culture of France. As well as learning the language, there are opportunities for French food tasting, looking at the geography of France, where it is in the world, which bodies of water are around it, which countries border it, and where else in the world the French language is spoken. Children learn about the culture of France, looking at how Easter and Christmas are celebrated there, as well as other festivals such as Mardi Gras and Epiphany.
A variety of techniques are used to encourage the children to have an active engagement with the foreign language, including use of powerpoints and oral repetition of words, teaching them memory aids for many words. Video clips are used, and many different types of games. Children write and perform roles plays, complete worksheets, learn action songs, listen to familiar stories in French, etc. Children are taught to use French/English dictionaries, throughout the whole of KS2, thus equipping them with the ability to broaden their vocabulary, and understand new words they hear.
The French teacher regularly liaises with the Primary Link Co-ordinator from the secondary school which most children from Worthington will attend, on leaving primary school, to help with a smooth transition from primary school to secondary school, with respect to language learning.
Equal emphasis at Worthington is put on the core skills, not just of speaking French, but listening to, and reading and writing French too. Phonics are taught in French, allowing children to start to decode words themselves, and work out how an unfamiliar word might be pronounced. (Eg. once they know that "oi" is always a "wah" sound, as in the number "trois", they can substitute this sound into other words, eg. "une poire" and independently work out how to pronounce it).
Links are made between French and English, looking at the origins of words and spotting connections. (eg. "on va commencer" means "we're going to start/commence". Explaining the meaning of the English word "commence" means children can see the connection and are more likely to retain the fact that "on va commencer" means "we're going to start/begin/commence).
We aim to make lessons as enjoyable as possible so that the children develop a positive attitude to the learning of a Foreign Language. Children’s confidence is built through praise for any oral contribution they make, however tentative.
Children leave Worthington with a good solid grounding in the language, an understanding of many of the words from various topics, a firm grasp of many of the grammatical points in the French language, knowing the common phonemes, thus empowering them to read and decode new words themselves.
They are fully prepared for the French teaching they will experience at secondary school, and start there feeling confident in their foreign language abilities, in all four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
They will also have the confidence to know they can learn one foreign language, and may therefore have the desire to learn a second foreign language, when the opportunity arises, thus ultimately giving them the confidence to travel, and work abroad, freely conversing with people from other cultures.
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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