Children begin learning French in Class 2 (Year 3 & 4), receiving a 45-minute weekly lesson from a visiting French specialist. Initially, the emphasis is on developing listening and speaking skills so that children begin to attune their ear to the different sounds in the French language and then start to speak with accurate pronunciation, thus developing good habits from an early age when they are most receptive to learning a new language!
Lessons are very kinaesthetic; the children join in with action songs, listening and repeating, flashcard games and interactive whiteboard activities. They learn to ask and answer questions in order to exchange information about themselves, and also acquire basic vocabulary, eg numbers, colours, dates, animals, family members.
In Class 1 (Year 5 & 6) there is increased focus on reading and writing in French, when children begin to associate the spoken and written word. They are introduced to using a bilingual dictionary to find words and meanings, and also learn some basic French grammar to help them better understand how the language works. Previously learnt language is frequently revisited so that children are unlikely to forget high-frequency vocabulary.
In addition to learning the language, children also find out information about France and the French people, their traditions and aspects of culture, allowing them to observe similarities and differences between France and the UK.
By the end of Year 6, children will have received a good grounding in simple French vocabulary and basic structures, and will also have acquired language-learning strategies which will stand them in good stead for whichever language they go on to study at secondary school.