To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world – Chinese proverb
Languages at Da Vinci Academy
Our primary aim in the French department is to foster a love of learning languages for all our students. We are passionate about our subject and believe that knowledge of a foreign language can open doors for our students, both as future professionals and as globally minded citizens of the world.
As teachers, our aim is to provide an excellent learning experience for our students. We hold high expectations of our students and what they can achieve. Similarly, as teachers, we continually reflect on our teaching to develop our evidence-informed practice. We follow a carefully sequenced and knowledge-rich curriculum, which facilitates students’ development in the key four skills of speaking, listening and writing. Key knowledge is chosen and built upon with consideration and shared with our students through the use of knowledge organisers. We use regular assessment to check that this vocabulary is learned and remembered over time. Our curriculum is designed to be ambitious yet accessible to all students. We place a strong emphasis on pronunciation, supported by our teaching of phonics, and are passionate about the teaching of literacy. At Da Vinci, we believe that the French curriculum also has an important role to play in the promotion of British values, particularly concerning respect for the diversity of cultures within the Francophone world. We also embed cultural learning throughout the curriculum, building students’ cultural capital through the study of Francophone literature, music, history and media.
French at KS3
All students at KS3 study French as part of their timetable: for one hour a week in Year 7, and two hours in Years 8 and 9. We study a variety of topics (e.g. free time & leisure, festivals, travel & tourism, the environment and volunteering, etc.) which are revisited in more depth at KS4. From the beginning of Year 7, we place a strong emphasis on accurate pronunciation to develop confident French speakers. Similarly, we model and encourage students to produce high-level extended written work. Homework consists of vocabulary learning, supported by students’ knowledge organisers. By the end of KS3, we expect students to possess strong linguistic foundations, including an ability to communicate confidentlyin at least three tenses, so that they are well prepared for success at KS4.
French at KS4
As a well-regarded academic subject, forming part of the English Baccalaureate, we would strongly encourage students to opt to study French at GCSE. At Da Vinci Academy, we follow 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 must be able to respond spontaneously to questions both when speaking and in writing. These responses should be developed and include opinions and different tenses.
To support their classwork, KS4 students will be set regular homework, including vocabulary learning, supported by their knowledge organiser, and other tasks, such as grammar or comprehension exercises. Students will also be expected to complete independent revision at KS4, using a range of resources as directed by their class teacher.
Further study & future employment
Students who follow the French GCSE course will be encouraged to pursue languages both at A-level and at university. There is a shortage of foreign language speakers in the UK, with foreign language qualifications highly sought after by top universities, other higher-education providers and employers in a wide range of sectors.
At university, French can be studied as both a single-honours degree, or commonly alongside another subject as a part of a joint-honours degree – for example, one can study a degree in French and Law; French and English Literature; or a degree in French combined with beginner’s Russian, Chinese, Spanish or Arabic. A language degree offers a year abroad where university students can study or work in another country, providing valuable professional experience and widening future career prospects whilst also representing an exciting opportunity for students to travel, meet new people and expand their horizons. Even if you do not wish to study languages at university, having an A-level in French is still highly advisable as languages are classed as ‘facilitating subjects’ – this means that top universities will look favourable on candidates who possess a French A-level, especially when making admissions choices for particularly competitive courses in areas such as law or medicine, or for courses at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.
There are many careers where languages are useful, and a qualification in languages can show an employer that you are an effective communicator who can articulate ideas and opinions, work in a team or independently, and gather and interpret information. In addition, it shows that you are culturally aware and quickly able to adapt to new surroundings and ideas. These skills are demanded more and more in our increasingly globalised jobs market and can often make you stand out from the crowd. Language graduates work for a huge variety of employers and sectors, including, but not limited to:
- Business services
- Charity Work
- Foreign Office and Diplomacy
- Interpreting and Translation
- Leisure, Sport and Tourism
- Museums and Libraries
- Public Administration
- Teaching and Education
- Transport and Logistics