Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)
What learning a language means at St Thomas…
Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and an opening to other cultures. It gives children the opportunity to communicate for practical purposes and, also to express their ideas and opinions in another language. Learning a foreign language in primary school provides the foundation for learning further languages.
We teach French from Year 1 through the school… French is about communicating in another language and learning about another culture. In doing this we deepen our knowledge and understanding of our own language and culture.
French at St Thomas...
At St Thomas’ we believe that every child should have an opportunity to learn a foreign language. Formal lessons in French take place in all classes in KS1 and KS2 but the language is used in EYFS classes and can be heard on a daily basis in the taking of the register or in our daily prayers.
In KS1 French lessons, the focus is on listening and speaking, rather than reading and writing. Most activities are aimed at oral skills so that the children gain confidence in speaking French through repetition, role play, games, short video clips, easy books, simple rhymes and catchy songs. The lessons are often complemented by colouring and other activities which provide a change from listening and speaking. All this with the help of the much loved Pierre Mascot. The aim in KS1 is for the children to enjoy French through engaging activities and learn without inhibitions.
The focus in learning through rhymes, songs and fun continues into lower KS2 with more focus on speaking than writing. In upper KS2 the children will start to present ideas and information orally, engage in conversations and write from memory. There are cross-curricular links with many other subjects including Science, Music and Art. The children are introduced to language learning skills and encouraged to make comparisons between French, English and any other languages they may speak. This lays the foundation for further foreign language learning at KS3.
Gus on the Go (French)
Stories by Gus on the Go (French)
Fun French by Studycat
Our intention at St. Thomas’ is to give all of our children an opportunity to confidently speak, read and write in French so that they can communicate for practical and other purposes. We aim to inspire them to be curious about French culture, to compare that culture to their own and, in so doing, develop a deeper understanding of both. We aim for the children to understand the importance of language by challenging them to find links between French and the other languages they speak including English. This skill helps their comprehension and learning in all subjects. We further aim to develop their understanding of how languages develop and relate this to the history they learn. Learning a new language also promotes our S=P+A+C+E for learning ethos fully with our children able to fully reflect on their new language acquisition.
Throughout the school, our children learn collaboratively and are engaged in their lessons with a focus on always trying their very best with new content. Occasions to demonstrate their new skills independently are also welcomed in lessons.
In Key Stage One French is taught through games and songs to develop both the children’s familiarity with the sounds and intonation of French and their confidence when speaking. The vocabulary they learn in KS1 such as colours, numbers, animals, food, days of the week, etc., gives them an excellent base on which to rediscover and build in Key Stage 2.
In KS2 French is taught more formally in that reading and writing are introduced, but the emphasis is still on developing confidence when speaking. Lessons are carefully planned and are designed to engage, include, enthuse, challenge and provide opportunities to go deeper. Songs, stories, games and role playing are all used to provide a variety of learning opportunities and to suit different learning styles. Lessons make purposeful links to other subjects, allowing children to identify the relevance and importance of their learning. The planning also ensures continuity and development throughout KS2 so that the children make progress. For example, simple grammar, such as gender, is introduced in Year 3 but not taught discretely until Year 4 and then rediscovered in Year 5 and 6. Opportunities to rediscover are included to consolidate previous learning, but also when it is clear from teacher assessment and pupil self-evaluation that pupils are not yet secure in their learning.
In addition to the weekly 40-minute French lesson, which is taught by a specialist, class teachers are encouraged to use French in the classroom on a daily basis. For example, in KS2 the lunchtime prayer is said in French and groups, such as spelling groups, are named using French colours or animals.
Prior to the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic, Year 6 children were able to put all their French language learning into practice on a week-long residential trip to Normandy in France. They are encouraged and supported to speak French in shops and at a market in order to buy ice cream, snacks and souvenirs. French lessons immediately before the trip prepared and gave them confidence for these situations. In addition, they are able to read signs and posters in French, eat typical French food and, through visits to significant World War II sites such as the Normandy Beaches understand more about Anglo- French shared history. We are looking at how we can best replicate these wonderful opportunities in 2023 and beyond…
Children’s progression is monitored by the specialist French teachers. Feedback is given orally and through developmental marking. Lessons are introduced with a Learning Challenge and steps to success for meeting the different challenges presented. Children are encouraged to reflect on their learning, in relation to both the challenge and the steps to success at the end of a lesson or more formally, usually at the end of a unit, by writing a sentence in their books and or using ‘traffic lights’ or other self-assessment ideas.
Outcomes for children learning French at St. Thomas are excellent due to the introduction of the language to the children in KS1, (although language learning is only statutory from Year 3), the fact that only French is taught rather than a mixture of different foreign languages and the regular weekly delivery of French by specialist teachers as opposed to ad hoc delivery by non-specialists.
By Year 6 children at St. Thomas’ are well prepared with language learning skills to develop their language learning, be it in English or a foreign language at secondary school.