At Moreton Hall we aim to develop a passion and respect for the French language and culture coupled with the enthusiasm and confidence to try to communicate accurately and with an authentic accent in French. We pride ourselves on overcoming the natural reticence of so many British children when it comes to ‘having a go’ at speaking other languages, and we try to present it as a challenge and an adventure even at the higher levels.
Children begin their experience of learning about France and French as early as Reception, and most will carry on as far as Common Entrance or scholarships in Year 8. Throughout, French is taught in class groups by our French specialists – which include a native speaker – and particularly promising candidates receive extra tuition in bespoke groups during the school day in Years 7 and 8.
In the younger years, the emphasis is on involvement, giving the children a positive experience of what it means to learn a foreign language. To achieve this, games, songs, lively worksheets, computer programmes, bilingual stories and media are used.
The formal French course begins in Year 4 when the emphasis is on learning, and using, as many phrases and items of vocabulary as possible, and above all on engendering the desire to participate in oral lessons without fear of mistakes or embarrassment. Written French is introduced gradually. The lessons are still highly interactive and dynamic and involve plenty of participation.
The next stage is to introduce grammatical aspects of the language. These are introduced carefully, but are regarded as of paramount importance if the children are to move from ‘phrase-book’ French to the ability to construct sentences of their own, clearly essential for fluency. At this point children start to work more on their own initiative, and derive both enjoyment and a sense of achievement from rising to the true challenges presented to them. By Year 8, most have become aspiring, if not established, linguists!