Modern Foreign Languages

The Modern Foreign Languages department offers the chance for all pupils to learn French at KS3. Students will be equipped with the skills that they need to choose French as a GCSE option at the end of year 9 if they wish. Pupils in year 7, 8 and 9 attend four lessons a fortnight of French and five lessons a fortnight at GCSE.

Our focus in French is developing the four core skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the target language. In addition, cross-curricular skills such as communication, punctuation, grammar and numeracy are improved on and developed in every lesson. Similarly, British Values are embedded in our curriculum across KS3 and KS4, and pupils’ frequently have the opportunity to develop their social, moral, spiritual and cultural awareness through topic work and activities in lessons.

As well as learning the language, students study different French speaking countries and cultures, which will prepare them well for an increasingly globalised world and workforce. Learning a foreign language is extremely rewarding and it enables students to improve their literacy and problem solving skills as well as working in a team and independently. 

The MFL department runs residential trips abroad for students to practice their language skills in a real life situation. This year, the French and Food and Nutrition department have joined together and have arranged a cross-curricular trip to the Opal Coast in Northern France. Forty students from year 9 and 10 will be spending three days exploring the region and taking part in a variety of culinary activities such as crêpe making, taking part in a chocolate workshop and visiting an authentic bakery. Additionally, students will get an insight into the French food industry by visiting both a snail farm and a goat cheese farm to see how these famous French ingredients are produced and prepared. Pupils will also have time to explore the traditional French towns in the area and to practice their French speaking in shops and cafés.

French at KS3

In year 7, 8 & 9, pupils will be encouraged to develop their speaking, reading, writing and listening skills in French. Key topics which are covered include hobbies, travel, food, social issues, regions and towns, school life and daily routines. Within the curriculum there are opportunities for pupils to study Francophone culture, such as music, history, film and literature. Within the department there is an emphasis on discovering more about French speaking countries across the world.

Lessons are delivered using a wide variety of teaching methods, with student-centred learning at the heart of planning. The target language is also regularly used to give instructions and to communicate in the classroom.

Homework is set once a week. Typically students will have a list of words or key phrases which relate to topics covered in class to memorise as their homework and prepare for a test in class. The key to success is repetition; practising vocabulary and verbs from these lists little and often several times a week, with the aim of being able to know the words from memory. Pupils are expected to consistently complete all homework to a high standard.

Below are some ideas of how to best memorise vocabulary:

- Regular repetition is the key to embedding the language in long term memory. Practise little and often a few times a week.

-Ask someone to test you on them into English and then into French.

-Create flash cards with pictures to help remind you.

- Cover up the list of words or phrases and write them out, then check them.

-Use Quizlet to play games and practise using the vocabulary in several different ways. Students will have a chance to use the Quizlet website in some lessons to familiarise themselves with the site and practice their vocabulary.

French at KS4

French GCSE is an E-Baccalaureate subject and pupils who are thinking of applying to study at university post-16 should consider this subject as one of their options. At Da Vinci Academy we are following the AQA French GCSE Course. The French GCSE is assessed by four exams at the end of Year 11, with separate exams in speaking, writing, reading and listening. There are two tiers for the final exams, foundation where students can achieve grades 1-5 and higher where students can achieve grades 4-9. The tier for which a student is submitted is decided in Year 11 and will be based on mock results and target grades.  All exam content is based on the following three themes:

  • Culture and identity
  • Global and national issues and travel
  • School life, post-16 education, and future ambitions and employment

To be successful in the French GCSE course, students will practice being able to write and respond spontaneously to questions. These responses should be developed and include opinions and different tenses. In order to support their classwork, KS4 students will be set regular homework which includes vocabulary learning and grammar tasks. Students will also be expected to complete independent work at KS4, which they can do by using their revision guides available to purchase from school.

 Students in Year 11 are expected to attend an additional French class after school once a week, known as period 6. This is an opportunity to consolidate grammar, vocabulary and speaking or writing skills with their teacher.

Languages at Higher Education and Careers in Languages

Students who follow the French GCSE course will be encouraged to pursue languages at college and at higher university. There is a shortage of language speakers in the UK, and a qualification in French could lead to a degree in French itself or a beginner’s language degree, such as Russian, Chinese or Arabic. A language degree offers a year abroad where university students can study abroad or work abroad, which widens job prospects in the future and may help students find a career path that they wish to follow.

There are many careers where languages are useful, and a qualification in languages shows that you are an effective communicator who can develop ideas and opinions, work in a team or independently, and gather and interpret information. In addition, it shows that you are culturally aware and able to adapt to new surroundings and ideas. These skills are demanded more and more in our global jobs market and are appealing to employers across many sectors.

Language graduates work for a huge variety of employers and sectors, including:

  • business services
  • charity work
  • engineering
  • foreign office and diplomacy
  • interpreting and translation
  • leisure, sport and tourism
  • marketing
  • media
  • museums and libraries
  • public administration
  • teaching and education
  • transport and logistics.