At La Fontaine Academy, we have designed a French curriculum which ensures that children develop key language learning skills, as well as a love of languages and a broad understanding of other cultures. We believe that a high-quality language education should foster children's curiosity, encourage them to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and understand and respond to its speakers - both verbally and in writing. Our curriculum provides opportunities for children to communicate for practical purposes, build solid bases to language learning and discover French literature; all while having fun and developing self-confidence.
We do this by:
* Embarking on our French language learning journey from Reception;
* Ensuring that French is a high-profile part of our curriculum;
* Focussing on twelve main topics, which are taught in depth and built on each year;
* Using high-quality French resources to assist teaching;
* Ensuring all four areas of language learning (speaking & listening, reading and writing) are taught;
* Providing real-life opportunities for children the practise and develop their learning.
Our reason for taking this approach
"Les limites de ma langue sont les limites de mon monde."
"The limits of my language are the limits of my world."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Research* shows that learning a second language from a very young age boosts problem-solving, critical-thinking and listening skills in addition to improving memory, concentration and the ability to multi-task. In a comprehensive survey of the state of language learning in English schools carried out by Tinsley and Board (British Council,2016), they concluded that 'There are many benefits of teaching languages to pupils at Key Stage 2, especially widening pupils' cultural understanding and confidence, improving their literacy and preparing them for a world of work.'
We have chosen this methodical approach to teaching French, as we believe that having a solid base and understanding of the twelve main topics will allow children to build on their knowledge each year. Teaching these topics systematically - little and often - and then developing vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure, will ensure that children leave La Fontaine with the ability to express themselves clearly, not only in spoken language but also with the ability to read, understand and write basic sentences in French.
Giving children the opportunity to establish the building blocks of the French language, and allowing them time to develop vocabulary, comprehension and writing skills, will result in excellent language learning abilities, which will - in turn - result in children who are ready to face the challenges of language learning at secondary school and who are curious about the world around them.
Research* & further reading
British Council, 2016. Language Trends 2015/16. Reading: Education Development Trust, p.9.<https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/language_trends_survey_2016_0.pdf>
Cable, Carrie, Patricia Driscoll, Rosamond Mitchell, Sue Sing, Teresa Cremin, Justine Earl, Ian Eyres, Bernadette Holmes, Cynthia Martin and Barbara Heins. 2010. Language Learning at Key Stage 2: a longitudinal study. Research Report DCSF-RR198. (London: Department for Children Schools and Families)
Coleman, James A. 2009. 'Why the British do not learn languages: myths and motivation in the United Kingdom' Language Learning Journal, 37.1: 111-128
Department for Education. 2013. National Curriculum in England. Languages programmes of study: Key Stage 2. <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-languages-progammes-of-study>
Kroll, Judith F, and Ellen Bialystok. 2013. 'Understanding the consequences of bilingualism for language processing and cognition', Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25.5: 497-514
Murphy, Victoria. 2014. Second language learning in the early school years: Trends and contexts (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Myles, Florence and Rosamond Mitchell. 2012. Learning French from ages 5, 7, and 11: An Investigation into Starting Ages, Rates and Routes of Learning Amongst Early Foreign Language Learners. ESRC End of Award Report, RES-062-23-1545 (Swindon: Economic and Social Research Council)
Myles, F. (2017). Learning foreign languages in primary schools: is younger better? Languages, Society & Policy https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.9806