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French has been introduced to the whole of Pre-prep in September 2008. The emphasis is on aural / oral teaching and we wish to introduce children and parents to the benefits of learning a Foreign language early on. The teaching of French is as follows:

•    1x15 minutes / week in Nursery
•    1x20 minutes / week in Reception
•    1x30 minutes / week in Year 1
•    1x40 minutes / week in Year 2
In Year 3, pupils get 2x40 minutes / week. We continue with an aural / oral approach even though we do start introducing basic grammatical concepts such as masculine, feminine, plural. Copying and reading familiar words complements the learning. The emphasis is upon helping pupils to learn, and to pronounce correctly, a functional vocabulary on day-to-day topics which are already within their experience and likely to appeal. These will include:

•    Personal identification: Name and Age
•    Family and pets
•    Numbers 1-20
•    The French alphabet
•    The date: The days of the week: The months
•    Some likes and dislikes
•    Town places
In order to instil good pronunciation and reliable recall of vocabulary, the teacher uses a lot of repetition, flashcards and worksheets in the early stages. They also begin to copy more material, so that they can become familiar with French spelling, which is often not phonetic.

In Year 4, pupils get 3 x 40 minutes of French per week. The topics covered in year 4 include personal description, family and animals as well as basic conversation. There is increasing emphasis upon reading and writing French. For many pupils, of course, remembering spellings, genders, agreements and the grammatical irregularities (notably of verbs) can be daunting, if not deterring. Much emphasis is therefore placed upon the teacher presenting the material in a clear and palatable way, and upon the pupils, for their part, doing enough practice and formal learning to achieve a good and durable standard of accuracy on paper. To this end, pupils are expected to learn small amounts of vocabulary between lessons for regular short tests.
In practice, pupils tend to vary widely in their aptitude for French: the teacher must therefore be sensitive to an individual's particular strengths or weaknesses, providing differentiated tasks or extra help as necessary. The teacher must nonetheless give the class an overall sense of coherence and structure in delivering the syllabus.

From Year 5, a stronger emphasis is put on understanding conjugation and using verbs accurately. Pupils should use correct spellings, and grammatical concepts such as genders and plurals are reinforced. All students get 3 x 40 minutes of French per week. The topics covered include: “At home”, “In town” and “At school”.
A similar pattern continues in year 6. Students get 4 X 40 minutes, plus 30 minutes of prep every week. Tenses are introduced and reinforced and students are expected to start writing accurate and longer sentences. More difficult and authentic French is read or listened to, either for gist or detail.

In Years 7 & 8, the teacher's focus is clearly upon Common Entrance and Scholarship respectively. As regards the former, the content of what is taught is based largely upon the ISEB C.E. syllabus. Preparation for Scholarship uses also the evidence of past papers and any specific guidance provided by the school concerned. Although they may differ as to their level and expectations, C.E. and the Scholarship examinations set by Public schools do resemble each other (and G.C.S.E.) in being divided into four Skills: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. For examination success, a pupil must show proficiency in each of these, even though certain schools may decide to focus their examination on 2 or 3 skills for the Scholarship candidates. Plenty of practice on past papers is provided to hone their examination-technique. Students in Year 7 take part in a French trip. Evidence shows that anything which the teacher or the child's parents can do to encourage practice of French in as authentic a context as possible pays valuable dividends where examinations are concerned.

"Pupils of all ages and abilities make excellent progress."
ISI Inspection Report 2017

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