In Year 3, children get 2×40 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 children 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 and flashcards 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, our children 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 of our children, of course, remembering spellings, genders, agreements and the grammatical irregularities (notably of verbs) can be daunting. Much emphasis is therefore placed upon the teacher presenting the material in a clear and palatable way, and upon the children, for their part, doing enough practice and formal learning to achieve a good and durable standard of accuracy on paper. To this end, children are expected to learn small amounts of vocabulary between lessons for regular short tests.
From Year 5, a stronger emphasis is put on understanding conjugation and using verbs accurately. Children should use correct spellings, and grammatical concepts such as genders and plurals are reinforced. All of our children 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 with our children receiving 4 X 40 minute lessons, with 30 minutes of prep every week. Tenses are introduced and reinforced and children 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 upon Common Entrance and Scholarship. Children 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 for the child.