The French department is part of the Modern Languages department, situated in the Library block. French is a thriving subject with a substantial take up at GCSE, A level and also within the IB diploma programme.
In our modern world of global interdependence, many employers highly value the ability to speak a foreign language and our aim is for our pupils to express themselves fluently and confidently and to understand spoken and written French competently, as well as introducing them to the society and culture of the Francophone world.
Now that research has shown that learning a language boosts brain power – enhancing thinking skills and memory abilities – many pupils are choosing to add a language to a portfolio of other subjects. This is partly to enjoy the cognitive benefits that language learning brings to their whole programme of study, and also because Modern Languages are viewed by universities as ‘facilitating’ subjects meaning they leave open a wide range of options for university study.
Years 9 – 11
In Year 9, pupils start their GCSE course and almost all pupils will have studied French before. Moving into Year 10 & 11 pupils are put into set based on ability, and this allows us to choose whether a pupil is examined at either foundation or higher level in Year 11. We follow the AQA French course and this provides an excellent grounding for A level and IB study, and pupils take final exams in all four essential skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.
A level French
The Edexcel French course is studied at Sixth Form, looking at the general themes of Changes in French Society & Artistic and Political Culture in Year 12 and Immigration and the French multicultural society & Occupation and Resistance in Year 13. There is also study of literature and film and the opportunity for an individual project into an area of choice as a basis for the oral exam.
Many pupils particularly enjoy the Cultural Studies part of the A2 in which French literature and cinema are studied as an assessed part of the course. The exam in Year 13 consists of a speaking exam, and a Listening, Reading & Translation and Writing exam.
IB French can be studied at Higher Level, Standard Level or Ab Initio as a Language B subject. The Language B assessment consists of a speaking assessment in the second year of the course, a listening paper, a reading comprehension paper, and a written tasks paper. The IB course covers a vast range of exciting topics, and at higher level, there is also a literature element of choice which forms the basis of the oral exam.
The department organises theatre and cinema trips for French students. Every year we enjoy the French play put on by UEA French Department in Norwich.
We have seen Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Rhinocéros in recent years. We also have links with France and facilitate individual trips to France where pupils improve their fluency as well as their individual confidence.
The French department also is involved in wider MFL department events such as Translation workshops and Language Days, inviting specialists and native speakers to add their input to our full, varied and exciting curriculum.
We benefit from excellent language assistants and all sixth form pupils have a weekly individual speaking slot with the French assistant, whilst pupils in Years 9 – 11 will have increased exposure as they near their GCSE exam.
Our pupils who choose French in the Sixth Form go on to study languages at a range of prestigious universities. Our current success stories include linguists studying at Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Bristol, York, Edinburgh, and Exeter.