The teaching of languages to early learners is widely recognised as a significant contributory factor in improving literacy, and broadening cultural horizons. In line with our Mission Statement, language learning from a young age helps children to develop confidence. At The Coombes, we believe that language learning allows children to explore and discover other ways of living, of thinking and of communicating. French is introduced informally in KS1 through singing traditional songs and role play and a more formal approach is introduced in Year 3, where the teaching and learning of MFL relies heavily on games, storytelling, finger rhymes and conversation. Whenever possible and with our ethos in mind, lessons are multi-sensory and active, serving to reinforce memory, making learning enjoyable, vivid and real.
In KS2 the children have one French lesson per week. The teaching of French is based around the Catherine Cheater Scheme, adopted by Wokingham LEA, with the focus being on oracy, literacy and intercultural understanding. In Year 3, the emphasis is very much on developing listening skills, closely followed by speaking skills. In Year 4, children continue to develop oracy skills, however the emphasis shifts to establishing an understanding of basic French grammar. In Year 5 there is a strong importance placed on the progression of fundamental reading and writing skills (literacy skills) rooted in phonics, and learning how to use a bilingual dictionary. By Year 6, the children have opportunities to utilize the language skills they have acquired to write poems, stories and recipes, using writing frames creating sentences with nouns, adjectives, adverbs and conjunctions. All language skills developed in French are related to what the children are learning in the rest of the curriculum, especially literacy lessons.
Alongside establishing oracy and literacy skills, most lessons incorporate elements of intercultural understanding, whether that be having opportunities to sample French food, identifying countries where French is spoken or simply talking about the similarities and differences of social conventions between different cultures. We celebrate Bastille Day each July, which generates many opportunities to celebrate intercultural understanding through, art, music, drama and in many other exciting ways.