French

Overview

In a world in which the professional job market is fiercely competitive, French competes strongly with English as a main language of business and politics.

French is a medium through which one can study a whole range of other academic subjects, such as history, politics, literature and science. It is therefore an ideal complement to many other A level choices and can provide strong links to support progress and discovery that are mutually beneficial to all of your subjects. Studying French also opens up an understanding and appreciation of this very vibrant society: social debates, politics, film and literature. In spite of the ubiquitous Eurostar adverts, we do tend to forget that France is just a two-hour train journey away. You certainly do not need to study French to survive in Paris for example, but how satisfying is it to understand quirky adverts on the métro, not feel thrown by the array of possibilities on a French menu, or simply go to see a film?

The French department is committed to maximising students’ potential and achievement by providing both a supportive and stimulating learning environment. Lessons often include close analysis of news articles or televised reports and class discussion is a key component of all lessons. These issues are further explored in each student’s one-to-one weekly lessons with the French assistante.

Curriculum

Students who choose to study French at A level will follow the AQA A level French specification. This requires candidates to study four broad topic areas, two of which are studied in Lower Sixth and two in the Upper Sixth. In addition, students will undertake an in-depth study of a film in the Lower Sixth and a novel in the Upper Sixth.

In the Lower Sixth these topics currently cover aspects of social issues and trends including the changing nature of the family, cyber-society and the role of voluntary work. Lower Sixth students also study aspects of political and artistic culture, such as francophone cultural heritage, music and cinema. They also study Mathieu Kassovitz’s film La Haine. In the Upper Sixth, student complete their study of social issues with in-depth analysis of social diversity and law and order. They will also extend their knowledge of political and artistic culture by studying political issues, trade unions and immigration. The novel currently on the Upper Sixth programme of study is Dephine de Vigan’s No et Moi.

Students are encouraged to fully engage in class discussion as well as extension reading of current affairs and literature, in order to enrich their vocabulary, develop analysis and deepen their understanding of French culture and society.

Students are taught by two teachers over ten periods per week. Each student also has a weekly one-to-one lesson with the French assistante that specifically focuses on the requirements of the oral examination.

Whilst we provide students a textbook, we stress the importance of making full use of online resources such as articles, news reports, online newspapers and magazines as well as film. The department supports students with this independent study by regularly providing links to useful resources, encouraging students to share reading material and providing regular updates via the department’s Twitter account (@ElthamFrench).

The course is through three public exams: a listening, reading and translation paper; an essay paper and an oral examination.

Trips, activities and clubs

Beyond the academic curriculum, we encourage students to appreciate the fundamental link between developing an in-depth knowledge French culture and society, and achieving a high level of fluency in French. Visiting France not only develops cultural knowledge and understanding, but also sensitises students to nuance, idiom and a general feel for the nature of the French language. Our finest linguists make full use of these opportunities and to this end, students are encouraged to take part in the trips abroad and other activities offered by the department.

We are keen to arrange for our Year 11 and Sixth Form students to hear talks on various aspects of French culture and society, and arrange cinema trips to either the Institut Français in South Kensington, or elsewhere in central London.

The French department offers:

  • Weekly clinic focusing in key examination technique such as translation and listening skills.
  • Modern and Classical Languages Society: this aims to enhance the curriculum by providing extension talks in a range of cultural and academic topics, usually provided by visiting speakers.
  • Oxbridge preparation: One-to-one study sessions and interview practice. There is also an annual visit to either Oxford or Cambridge to experience a taster day of lectures.
  • Trips: we offer an annual study trip, which includes a week of lessons in a language school which target key aspects of the A level examinations. Students stay with French host families, which provides excellent linguistic and cultural exposure and a programme of cultural visits is also offered. Recent destinations include Bordeaux and Nice.
  • Cinema and theatre trips.
  • We collaborate with other schools to run a yearly Lower Sixth linguists’ extension afternoon in June.

Staff

  • Miss L Scarantino BA (Head of Modern Foreign Languages)
  • Mrs E Brooke BA (Hons)
  • Mr J Houghton MA
  • Mrs S Chevrier-Clarke (French assistante)