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A Glimpse into French at Weston Green School

Posted: 8th December 2022

At Weston Green School, our children start learning French at a very young age.  Their exposure starts at Pre Prep and goes all the way up to Year 6 where they complete their prep school journey, fully equipped for French in senior school.

Teaching French at Weston Green School
Teaching French at Weston Green School

The time they get exposed to the French Language increases exponentially as the students get older. All year groups have French lessons on a weekly basis: in Pre Prep they are have 20-minute lessons, in Reception and Year 1 for 30 minutes, in Year 2 for 45 minutes and in Year Groups 3-6 for 60 minutes. Having the benefit of being taught the French Language at a young age, our children can build on prior knowledge in all 4 Language skills (listening, speaking, writing, hearing)

The children start their French language journey in Pre Prep, with a short weekly session designed to develop a love of language with a strong emphasis on enjoyment, for example through the use of French-speaking puppets. Songs and rhymes help to encourage participation and repetition of basic vocabulary such as numbers and colours. In Reception revision builds confidence in speaking, with practical activities and new topics added in. During the course of Year 1, the children start to build simple phrases as they become ready and to apply their vocabulary across a range of topics such as pets, toys and food, with the emphasis still firmly on engagement and enjoyment. Simple written activities are also introduced, so that by Year 2 they have a strong foundation and the confidence to tackle an increasing vocabulary both orally and in writing.

When children are in Year 2 and as they go up, we want them all to get appropriately challenged in their French learning, hence all lessons (verbal or writing) include Layered Learning activities. This gives the students the opportunity to add extra levels of challenge in their learning and progress at the maximum capacity according to their individual abilities as well as to help them improve, practise and work on any identified areas for improvement, as and when needed.

At Weston Green, we give real emphasis to the academic excellence that our students can achieve through learning French and we use a variety of tools to achieve this. We want to develop our students’ critical thinking, which is why we include in every lesson a “Killer Question”. This question could be either on grammar, vocabulary or cultural understanding. To some of the Killer Questions students may have the answer straight away using their Long Term memory from previous lessons (lessons are sequenced), but for others they may need to get to the answer by putting together the information from that day’s lesson. Another way to help our students deepen their knowledge and understanding in French is through reading more advanced texts and answering questions in upper KS2, an activity similar to reading comprehension in the French Language.

Finally, we want our students to become independent learners. To help them with this, we encourage them to practise the French Language outside of the classroom environment by offering them a variety of websites to practise the topics they feel they need more support. By doing this, the students not only take responsibility for their own learning, but they also get exposed to French more frequently which is very beneficial to their progression. Additionally, we share with them the Learning Journey at the beginning of each half-term which informs them of their learning for the following weeks. This ensures the students are aware of which topics they can practise either prior to the French lessons or once lessons are completed.