Modern Foreign Languages
French at Kings Hill School
Here at Kings Hill School, French is a well-established part of the KS2 curriculum with pupils enjoying a French lesson every week from Year 3 to Year 6.
The curriculum is designed to show progression, be enjoyable and accessible to all and is linked to the various schemes of work for each year group. Connections are also made between what they learn in French and what they learn in SPaG lessons, increasing the pupils’ language learning skills and adding relevance to their learning. This can also be seen in the links between French and the Values based education taught throughout the school. Indeed, links are also made with science, maths, geography, history and art. This does not detract from learning a language but enhances engagement and brings a “can do” attitude to the classroom and our beautiful outdoor learning environment.
The children are taught by a qualified and experienced MFL teacher, who spent many years teaching in secondary schools, so when they leave here they are ready for the challenges of secondary school languages.
Find below some of the French language experiences our pupils have here at Kings Hill School:
Phonics in French
One of the key areas for learning in French, especially in the early stages, is phonics. In recent years there has been a greater emphasis on this area of Foreign Language learning.
The representation of sounds through letters is a code and the skills need to be taught explicitly to break that code. Breaking this code also gives learners a sense of independence and achievement. It also makes communication easier and clearer, which is essentially what we want the children to do.
At Kings Hill, we focus on the 26 key sounds in French. We use a systematic process similar to Jolly Phonics used in KS1 in English. The pupils associate a sound with an image and an action and over time that sound is decoded and used with increasing accuracy.
Here are some of the resources that we use in class to help with our phonics. These include speed reading bookmarks, differentiated chilli phonics and class poster.
Phonics knowledge is assessed through writing and speaking tasks, which are ongoing in the French classroom.
Grammar in French
Learning grammar is an integral part of learning a language. Without learning grammar a learner can only reproduce the French that they are taught and can never express their own ideas or apply their knowledge to new concepts.
Young children are very open to learning grammar and are fearless in their approach. At Kings Hill grammar is taught explicitly and linked to the SPaG curriculum using the same terms that the pupils use in English. This helps them to make links in their learning and be confident in their use. Using the correct terminology also helps pupils to explain why they are using certain language or why a sentence may make no sense. It also helps in the linear approach that language learning takes, that the pupils can apply previous knowledge to new situations.
Here are examples of grammar learning taking place:
It is also worth noting that the new GCSE and A level examinations are more difficult than in previous years so it is important that pupils learn some of the grammar which would have previously been taught in KS3.
Learning grammar traditionally can strike fear in learners but it shouldn’t as it can be taught in a variety of ways. The children are taught to look for patterns and structures and often work out the grammar for themselves through seeding and chunking. We also play games, use giant dice and go out in to the woods to perform verb hakas! All of this leads to the children getting a deeper grasp of the concepts and can quite easily identify connectives, infinitives and explain what conjugation is!
Every year we hold a French day in the Summer Term. Over the years we have started the day with warm croissants and pains au chocolat. The whole school get involved with art projects, french playground games and learning French from our Year 6 Language Ambassadors.
In Key Stage 2 we have learnt about the grisly French revolution and made comic strips about it. We have even held our own Tour de Franceand held a variety of activities based on this epic sporting event. We also go outside and play pétanque and a variety of French playground games. In 2019 we invited an ice cream van into school and all children and staff had the opportunity to ask for and buy an ice cream only of they asked for it in French.
Learning Outside the Classroom
We often use the outside area to enhance our learning experience. We had a nature treasure hunt and found pommes de pin!
We used nature to write cinquain poems. This made us think about nouns, verbs and adjectives.
Kings Hill School Values
Life and development at Kings Hill School is based around 6 key values:
These values are demonstrated in French lessons every day. Some classes have even opted to sing a song in French or Spanish for their class value assembly.Where possible the values are explicitly demonstrated such as respect shown when listening to each other speak French or when we learn about how the French mark Remembrance day. Courage is shown when acting a role play in front of the class or performing a verb Haka in the playground. We take responsibility for our leaning and for our behaviour in class when moving around or carrying out a survey.
Learning a language takes resilience as we know. We often discuss how grammar rules do not always behave and how sometimes progress feels slow, but every step is one closer to being able to have a conversation or read a magazine article. On European Day of Languages we celebrate the languages that we speak in our community and how precious they are to us. When we play games in French or outside in the playground we demonstrate cooperation – listening to the teacher, listening to each other, learning to take turns and learning social conventions in other countries. This helps us to become citizens of the world and understand life beyond the school gates. We show kindness in the act of learning a language. It teaches us tolerance and the ability to accept others. We listen to opinions and we accept the views of others.
French and Links to the Community
Our learning goes beyond the classroom wherever possible. We were involved in a project to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele. We obtained funding to create cornflower and poppy wreaths, which lead us to learn about what the French do to commemorate Remembrance. Cornflowers were made from felt and mounted onto a wreath which was laid at our local remembrance service. We also had a bilingual French pupil read a French war poem to the local community at the war memorial. We also carried out research with The Big Project Company who were looking to commemorate the lives of local servicemen who were not mentioned on war memorials in the UK. We discovered the names of several local young men who died at Passchendaele and those names were read out by pupils at the war memorial and in our remembrance assembly.
It was very moving to realise that some of these men were not much older than the older brothers and sisters of some of our pupils. Also, through French, pupils were able to learn about World War 1, something that many of them did not know about.
Pupils also celebrate European Day of Languages with a celebration of all of the languages spoken by our staff and pupils. In our school speaking another language is a super power to aspire to!
We also take part in a gifted linguist day which is held every Summer term at a local school. Pupils in Year 5 experience new languages and are able to act, cook, create and do science in different languages. This day is always enjoyed and pupils’ eyes are opened a little further to the possibility of languages.