At Barnardiston we aim to produce students who are enthusiastic and confident about using a foreign language. Pupils begin to learn very simple French words and phrases in the Pre-Prep where the aim is to foster enjoyment of learning and an early confidence with a foreign language.
In Forms I to III, a more formal approach begins to be used although songs and games continue to be important learning tools. We follow the National Curriculum for Modern Foriegn Languages through LCP resources for Primary French. Some simple grammar points begin to be introduced and these are used with increasing frequency towards the end of Form III. Topics covered in these three years include saying hello and talking about myself, counting, parts of the body, colours, the school day, French as a world language, travelling around, weather, clothes, food, animals, healthy eating, the planets, times and dates, celebrations, and learning about France. There are also opportunities to listen to and read stories and to sing songs in French.
From From IV onwards we begin more formal preparations leading to Common Entrance at 13+. We use the Galore Park series So you Really Want To Learn French which offers an excellent combination of formal grammar teaching, written and reading exercises and opportunities for speaking. By Form VI pupils should be able to understand and use the present, simple future and past perfect tenses and have a wide ranging vocabulary which covers all the main aspects of the 13+ curriculum. We also use a range of other materials such as CDs and websites to enhance learning. We believe that the discipline of learning French is one which gives students a head start in other languages and also a disciplined approach to other subjects.
Form V and VI students are given increasing opportunities to use spoken French in a series of oral exercises and listening skills are encouraged through the regular use of CD based material. An emphasis on a good accent and a willingness to use French confidently are stressed and, although accuracy is encouraged at all times, the ability to communicate in French is paramount. Older pupils in the school are also taught about France and French life and we have, at different times, organised French Days and French assemblies to celebrate our use of the language.
Many of our students go on to be very successful in language studies in French and in other languages, but we do recognise that for some students French can be a very challenging subject and we are always seeking for new ways to support and encourage students who find languages difficult. We are pleased that the new regulations for Common Entrance have also identified this as an issue and we will be working with senior schools to make sure our students are entered for examinations at a level appropriate to their abilities.
There is a French saying "un autre langue est une autre vie", "another language is another life". We hope that by encouraging enthusiasm and confidence in French we can help students to understand that learning another language is a key to many new doors.