Our Junior School French syllabus, administered by two or three experienced linguists from the Senior School, has three chief objectives; the development of communication facility, the cultivation of learning skills and the nurture of cultural awareness. This being the case, much of the work we do dovetails with or parallels the pupils’ research in other subjects – history, geography, and English, for instance. Since each form has only one French lesson a week, one of our aims is to revise from year to year material which has already been learned, but to add to it. A Y4 boy might expect to learn basic food vocabulary, which will be extended in Y5 with a look at restaurant role play and further consolidated with work on shopping and money in Y6.
Topics covered are many and varied, ranging from simple alphabet, number, weather and colour vocabulary via family, food, school, clock time, nationalities, transport, town and clothes to quite sophisticated work on the body and health and a look at the history of the French Revolution. In addition we introduce simple grammar at an early stage. The study of leisure activities or of the ‘fête des rois’ (when the king or queen for the day gives orders to the rest of the family) are both excellent introductions to the way verbs are structured and used; colours can be used to demonstrate that French adjectives change in the feminine and are to be found after the noun.
Obviously all this has to be done in a way that captures a child’s imagination, so our lessons incorporate physical games and songs, drawing and craft, word play, DVDs, rôle play and the Internet. In recent years we have also offered to Y5 and Y6 an Easter trip to Normandy, which has been tremendous fun. We believe wholeheartedly that the love of language should be instilled early, and the boys respond with enthusiasm.