French is taught in timetabled lessons from Reception to Year 6.
In Pre-Prep, each weekly lesson is 30 minutes long. The focus is on having fun, learning songs, familiarising the children with pronunciation and teaching core vocabulary, such as numbers, colours, pets and greetings. The use of puppets, including Camembear, enables the children to hear the language and respond to a character that they can identify with and befriend!
Children enjoy playing games devised to get them speaking and having fun at the same time. They also learn many traditional French songs, and more recently, modern songs that have been written as teaching resources. The use of music is a powerful learning tool for young linguists!
From Year 3, the children have an hour of French per week. Similarly to Pre-Prep, there are a lot of speaking activities in each lesson. The children try their hand at French writing and are encouraged to notice that nouns are either masculine or feminine. The emphasis continues to be on learning whilst having fun, so many linguistic games are included and songs continue to be enjoyed throughout the Prep School Programme.
The children are confident linguists because they have had many opportunities to engage in a variety of speaking activities with their friends. Increasingly through Years 4 to 6, the children are introduced to many grammar points, including agreements, the notion of verbs and infinitives and later, an introduction to the present tense. The children are also taught the three main auxiliary verbs. The tasks are differentiated to ensure scaffolding for those that need it and there are higher level activities for those that enjoy a challenge.
Ashford Prep School is lucky to work in partnership with a French school near Paris. In Year 6, the children practice what they have learnt and write regular letters to pen-pals in the school.
There are several French clubs available for the children, including drama clubs where the children work towards a performance in French, usually an adaptation of a well-known story. There are opportunities for committed linguists to participate in performance competitions with other schools around the country and, in Year 6, the children entertain their parents with songs, plays and poems at the annual Soirée française.