‘With languages, you are at home anywhere.’ – Edward De Waal
‘To have another language is to possess a second soul.’ – Charlemagne
At RPNS, we believe that learning another language gives children a new and broader perspective on the world, opening their horizons to other cultures, experiences and life opportunities.
We aim to ensure that children receive high quality FL teaching as early as possible. Using a carefully structured programme, the children are introduced to, then rehearse to master a carefully interweaved programme of French phonics, vocabulary and grammar. This will help them to develop secure foundations and start neural pathways for further language learning, so that their new language becomes a practical tool to communicate both orally and in writing.
The children are taught about different places in the world where French is spoken, and they make links between their language learning, geography, history, art and music. The strongest links are the linguistic ones, as children learn new vocabulary and start noticing similarities and differences between words, sounds and sentences, which helps not only with their new language acquisition but also support a deeper grasp of English. At the same time, children develop a strong sense of identity as a part of a much wider world, as well as awe and wonder at the diversity of customs, music, art and music beyond our borders.
At Ringmer, we teach our Key Stage 2 children to speak, listen to and write French using a range of carefully structured sources and materials, aiming to develop confidence, fluency and spontaneity in their own use of the language. All children start with an introduction to French phonics, and they review the sounds of the language, drawing comparisons with their native language sounds and ensuring that they copy, then regularly practise, pronunciation of native speakers as well as their teachers. As one of the Pillars of Language learning, phonics is reviewed at the beginning of every year group, after the initial introduction.
Children are encouraged to speak with fluency, accuracy and spontaneous recall, through a gradual development of vocabulary and questioning or statement building techniques. Grammatical structures are carefully introduced to provide children with a repertoire of spoken and written vocabulary, ready to use in their increasingly more extended pieces of writing, as well as in classroom speaking. Children are introduced to music, texts and cultural landmarks of France and of the French speaking world, as they progress through their programme of study.
At Ringmer Primary School, children learn to speak, listen to and write French using a carefully sequenced programme of study. They are introduced concomitantly to the three major aspects of language learning: phonics, grammar and vocabulary, as they develop the building blocks of the language they learn. While the focus is on practical communication, reading and writing are equally valued in every lesson. The children are taught to listen, repeat and respond to a range of expressions in French, which they can then use as a part of their own repertoire of phrases for communication.
Patterns of sound are carefully taught at the beginning of their language learning journey, then French Phonics is reviewed and consolidated at the beginning of every year group, so that pronunciation and vocabulary are acquired with accuracy. Role-play conversations are a frequent part of language learning, as is singing and listening to native speakers and repeating their phonetic or grammatical structures.
Vocabulary is carefully built alongside phonics and grammar, to provide the children with the tools for speaking and writing: hearing stories, appreciating songs, poems and rhymes, describing people, places and things and being able to find their own, new words to extend their bank of knowledge, are all based on this carefully balanced approach. Carefully selected aspects of grammar are taught sequentially to offer the children a structure for speaking and writing. For example, conjugations of high frequency verbs, learning all personal pronouns and genders, and adjective-noun agreements offer the children the tools of grammatically correct, ready-made sentences to use in their writing.
Our pupils work towards developing a well-structured understanding of French. We hope this will give them access and enjoyment not only of a new language and culture, but support and openness and development of a love for languages, as well as a comfortable transition into further language learning in their secondary school.