Children start to learn French in Reception, which is taught by a specialist French teacher. In Reception and Year 1 they have one lesson per week during which they are introduced to the basics of the language through a wide variety of activities such as songs, games, rhymes and stories. They perform raps and join in with popular stories in French, such as ‘Les Trois Petits Cochons’ (The Three Little Pigs) where repetition helps them to memorise the language. At this stage, the emphasis is totally on the spoken word, although children will start to read and recognise words and learn to distinguish between English and French phonemes or sounds. Where appropriate, activities are linked to the rest of the curriculum or events happening in school, such as Book Week or Harvest.
When the children move to Year Two, they continue to learn French with the same specialist French teacher. They have two lessons per week in which they learn French through a wide variety of activities, such as songs, games, rhymes and stories, interactive whiteboard presentations and role-play. They start to follow a scheme of work that meets the objectives of the Key Stage Two (Junior School) Framework for Languages in preparation for their transition to Year Three. This is a flexible scheme that can be adapted to suit the needs of the children and fit in with events or activities taking place in school. For example, during Harvest week, the children learn about the different food and drink that France is famous for, linking these to the appropriate region on a map of France. The highlight of Year Two is the French breakfast, where children role play as waiters and waitresses, taking orders from their ‘customers’ and serving “pains au chocolat”, ”jus d’orange” and “chocolat chaud”. This is their chance to show how confident and enthusiastic they are in using the language in a ‘real-life’ situation.
As well as intercultural understanding, learning French also develops literacy, numeracy, ICT and general language-learning skills. Children can share their experiences and will learn about the various celebrations and festivals in France.
Westholme School prides itself on enrichment programmes from a young age. The Junior School is a hive of activity with a host of extra-curricular opportunities to complement and support the work that goes on in the classroom.