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Wonder Secondary French

Wonder Secondary French
Curriculum taught at:

Our vision

Part of our World discipline, Modern Foreign Languages provide an insight into different cultures through the timeless beauty of the spoken and written word. Languages play a pivotal and varied role; broadening our understanding of our first language, developing our communication skills and allowing us to understand different societies, cultures and nations.

Children will become investigativeinquisitive, and rational as they build a body of knowledge but also learn how that same knowledge can be proven and how discoveries are made, tested, and refined.

Fluent To develop fluency in another language, pupils will develop mastery of the three areas of speech: • Learning the system of sounds in the language and how these are written and spelled. • Developing vocabulary. • Building the correct grammar. Repeated practice and reinforcement through retrieval activities in which children revisit and reinforce aspects of language learned so far to lay the foundation for new learning is at the heart of this process. We also take care to carefully select the vocabulary children start to master. It is estimated that the 2,000 most common words in a language represent more than 80% of the words in most written and spoken texts. An ability to understand and use these words has an immediate practical use. However, high-frequency words serve as ‘anchor points’ to help learners navigate texts, both spoken and written, as well as supporting the development of grammar.
Confident An important factor in determining whether a child will continue to study languages is the strength of their positive view of themselves as language learners. Consequently, the department takes great care to build a culture of praise to build pupils’ confidence. However, it is also important that children understand the type of error corrections they will encounter in lessons as learning from mistakes is an essential part of their education. Teachers will choose carefully which errors to correct in children’s’ work. This is because focused error correction (when a teacher focuses on one or a few elements of language production for correction) is more effective than unfocused error correction (when a teacher corrects every error that a pupil makes). However, for any correction to be effective our classrooms need to be places where mistakes are understood to be helpful in the learning process, and where making errors and error correction is normalised. Consequently, our teaching prepares children for the kinds of error correction they might receive either from teachers or from peers.
Respectful Pupils who choose to continue studying languages often do so because they wish to communicate with others outside of the UK, to discover more about cultures and people, and because they see the usefulness of language for their future. Through high quality languages teaching, our department aims to promote further tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions by enabling pupils to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures. This is also promoted through the lesson content, which uses language learning as a way to explore traditions and festivals to promote understanding of other cultures. In addition, use of genuine texts (including fiction, non-fiction, and cinema,) provide realism and authenticity to language learning to look at how social context affects language use as well as building cultural awareness.

French Curriculum

Our curriculum has been planned to build mastery of the three key pillars of language:

The system of the sounds of a language and how these are represented in written words

In their language lessons pupils will listen to a variety of forms of spoken language to obtain information and respond appropriately. As they develop their knowledge they will initiate and develop conversations, coping with unfamiliar language and unexpected responses, making use of important social conventions such as formal modes of address.

While they begin with transactional language to introduce themselves – thereby being introduced to the language – they will move onto reading and comprehension of original and adapted materials from a range of different sources to stimulate ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture.

Pupils will develop and use a wide-ranging and deepening vocabulary that goes beyond their immediate needs and interests, allowing them to give and justify opinions and take part in discussion about wider issues. At lower school they begin with their immediate surroundings and experiences before moving into cultural topics and wider contemporary issues such as health and careers.

Grammar and syntax
Pupils will learn to identify and use tenses or other structures which convey the present, past, and future. As with vocabulary, this carefully matched to content as pupils begin Year 7 in the ‘here and now’ to introduce themselves and master the simple present. In that first year they will also reflect on previous and future events through their discussion of hobbies, interests, and leisure time. As pupils move through their time at Woldgate they will continue to move through tenses continually to develop their expertise until it becomes automatic. They will also use and manipulate a variety of key grammatical structures and patterns, including voices and moods, as appropriate.

All children will take languages until Year 9 and all have the opportunity to take it to GCSE with the curriculum pathway established to allow children to take two languages if they wish.

Our Teaching

Most lessons will incorporate activities which enable pupils to practise and develop multiple skills across speaking, listening, reading, writing and translation as we believe that a multi-modal delivery helps to scaffold and develop these skills and prepares children to use language genuinely as authentic speakers. However, we recognise these aspects place different demands on learners. When speaking, for example, pupils need to be aware of the ongoing shared discourse and respond quickly to new information received – consequently, listening skills become more important. There is also often more time pressure in spoken scenarios. Writing, on the other hand, gives learners time to think about content and how to express it. However, spelling becomes a key factor for pupils to consider to ensure comprehension and fluency.

These key differences in demands between speaking and writing inform the way we deliver the curriculum and in the way we deliver class activities and tests to assess progression. However, as a department we recognise that each aspect of language contributes to the three key ‘pillars’ of language learning:
the system of the sounds of a language and how these are represented in written words
grammar and syntax

These three aspects develop each mode of language use. For example, to improve their listening skills pupils need to develop sound–symbol correspondences (how different combinations of letters map to different sounds), they need to recognise words they have learned, and finally understand how the words are ‘glued together’ through grammar.

  • As well as ensuring the modes of language reinforce each other, correct pronunciation and exploration of the sounds of the language assist with spelling and the movement
    from phonemes to graphemes.
  • Our schemes of learning explicitly identify the target vocabulary that is needed so that cumulatively as they work through their time at Woldgate, children master the essential building blocks to language and this involves systematic revisiting of prior vocabulary as part of our teaching in lessons.
  • Our department builds a working knowledge of grammar – consequently when pupils encounter new phrases they will, wherever possible and appropriate, learn to manipulate the words and grammar they contain, as soon as possible. This is important so that children are not simply imitating phrases but increasingly ‘thinking in’ and expressing themselves through the language. As well as developing awareness of grammar, this builds their creativity and confidence across all modes of speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

To achieve these aims, we include the following components to our lessons and schemes of learning.

  • ‘Sentence builder’ tasks are used in lessons, enabling pupils to build accurate sentences and decode the grammar of the target language.
  • Extensive retrieval of language through games and speaking activities
  • Use of texts that are 95% comprehensible to build fluency and confidence
  • Explicit teaching of language learning and decoding skills
  • Regular grammar instruction.

The department’s teaching consequently has adapted aspects of the work of Giafranco Conti. It is our ultimate aim that, with time and practice, knowledge of phonics, grammar and vocabulary becomes ‘automatic’ for pupils.

As they build their confidence, learners can understand longer written texts and spoken discourse. In turn, this means that they can access a wider range of meanings across a range of contexts. They will then be more likely to efficiently and appropriately draw on contextual information and bring in their knowledge of the world or background knowledge of a topic. This in turn allows them to better understand both familiar and less familiar topics and further develop their understanding of the culture of the language in scope.

Consequently, over time, children are able to express themselves more articulately in speech and in writing. It helps them to write and speak for different purposes, across a wide range of contexts and for different audiences and so they become ‘alive’ to the language. Our teachers aim to scaffold this through the way they model the target language and prompt pupils to use it in lessons.

Use of the target language in lessons
All children learn a new language and they do so explicitly with direct language instruction that appropriately balances the use of English and the ‘target’ language they intend to learn. Naturally we want learners to be exposed to the language they are learning. However, we do not want them to be overwhelmed by it in their early stages of language learning to the point that it could demotivate them and so we work systematically to achieve a balance that sees using the target language as an essential part of practice and reinforcement, including building familiarity with rhythms, sounds and intonation. For younger pupils, for example, this will involve the planned use of target language for classroom routines. As children progress, activities will be led in the target language to help embed knowledge in the long-term memory, support practice and recall, and help pupils to respond to language in meaningful ways.

By using increasing degrees of target language not only provides more examples of the language but also enables children to ‘try out’ the language as often as possible. To further develop confidence, the texts and speech we use as stimulus in lessons increase in complexity and authenticity to help children develop their understanding of the language in a ‘real’ setting. Even where they are created for the classroom or for younger learners, they will be authentic to the contexts, resembling real-life situations.

How families can support
  • Watch their favourite films in French.
  • Ask your child to read their work aloud to you to practise their pronunciation.
  • Use their books to ask questions so they can reply in French.
Sequencing and Assessment

Why do we sequence the curriculum this way?
As is clear from the diagram above, there is a very careful interplay between the topic, the grammar, and the vocabulary as children move through the languages curriculum. Our schemes of learning explicitly identify the target vocabulary that is needed so that cumulatively as they work through their time at school children master the essential building blocks to language, which involves systematic revisiting of prior vocabulary as part of our teaching in lessons.

Vocabulary is also linked to grammar – for example, a good verb knowledge is linked to grammatical understanding of verbs. However, the department also teaches and reinforces key grammatical concepts at the appropriate time. For example, revisiting comparatives and superlatives when comparing the city and countryside or conditional phrases when talking about their ideal home in the future.

These core aspects of content are reinforced through speaking, writing, reading and listening to help them establish mastery through a structured approach and careful use of assessment.

Our assessment

The curriculum is sequenced carefully so that relevant existing knowledge is revisited through frequent assessment in lessons as part of our ‘prepare’ activates at the start of each lesson. For each unit, new content is delivered sequentially in increasing difficulty but is segmented into components that are assessed through interim tests so that misunderstandings and errors can be picked up progressively as children progress through that topic.

As a department we take care to consider how errors are corrected to maximise learning. Evidence suggests that focused error correction is usually more effective than unfocused error correction and so teachers will not correct every error that a pupil makes, rather they will focus on agreed aspects, linked to the schemes of learning.

How we correct errors
As a department, error correction will take place in the following ways:

  • recasting: re-stating what the pupil said, but correcting errors in it.
  • prompting: where the correction is made by the learner themselves with support.
  • explanation: where explicit information is given about a rule relating to the cause of the error

As a result, assessment and correction is a dynamic process in languages, happening in the lesson verbally as much as in books. Developing corrections with children prompts them to think about the language they used and to correct the error themselves. Indeed, error correction in both spoken and written language is most effective when done immediately.