Our principle aim in teaching French at Tower House looks beyond the standard required for Common Entrance; we aim to give our pupils the confidence and knowledge to communicate in a foreign language. By doing so, we lay the foundation not only for the future study of French, but also the study of other languages.
Language learning promotes a multitude of skills which are important in all areas of life: being a confident communicator with a diverse range of people; the ability to infer meaning, pick out patterns and making links between concepts; problem solving; working collaboratively; and an appreciation of other cultures. A good working knowledge of at least one modern foreign language is becoming a prerequisite in many workplaces and universities, and we aim to give the boys the desire and skills to become lifelong language learners.
French is introduced in Year 3 where the boys are encouraged to participate using all four language skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking - with authentic texts and activities to cultivate an enjoyment in language learning. They are taught different subjects and topics in the target language, placing an emphasis on using language for, and with, a purpose. As they progress in the Senior School, the boys further develop these language learning skills to understand and use the language effectively for the purposes of practical communication. In the Senior School, boys have access to the Language Perfect language learning software and app to help learn language beyond the classroom, and in Year 7 and 8 the classes are split into smaller groups for learning as they approach Common Entrance. The boys graduate with very high levels of confidence using French, particularly speaking, and often go on to take their GCSE a year early.
Every February, Year 6 go to Northern France and Belgium where they take part in a packed programme combining visits to WW1 battlefields – following on from their study of this period of history from a French perspective in their French lessons – combined with many French speaking activities such as buying their lunch from a French market and learning how to make bread in a traditional French bakery. This week is an excellent spring board for their learning moving towards the Common Entrance and boys return with a new level of self-belief in their abilities having seen what they can do in using the language in real life.
"[pupils] speak confidently in French, using excellent accents and extensive vocabulary"