In the Junior School we teach French from the outset, building on what the children have learned in the Pre-Prep in Year 2. At first much of the learning is of spoken French, with games, songs and even a pique-nique, and during Form 4 the new skills of reading and writing in the language are also introduced. From Form 6 the children are taught in sets, depending on ability or experience, and in Form 7 we run a beginners’ set for those entering the School without previous experience of the language.
Beyond the speaking, reading and writing of the language, we also seek to encourage an understanding and appreciation of French culture. Whilst the balance between written and spoken French shifts towards the former as children progress through the school, the internet provides excellent opportunities to hear the language spoken by native speakers, and we also have a native speaker on the staff in the French department.
With France in such close proximity, we run regular field trips to France to enable pupils to try out their French for real. The programme of field trips is ever-evolving and all children have opportunities to visit France with their year group. Typical activities have included a day trip to Le Touquet; a day at Audruicq near Calais, meeting the children at the local primary school and buying lunch in the open-air market; or a similar experience at Wimereux and St Omer but with the addition of a boat trip on the local marshes; and a four or five-day residential study tour to Picardy or Normandy for Form 8. We have well-established links with the primary school at Audruicq and a secondary school in St Omer. In the Summer Term, pupils from both these schools visit St Edmund’s to see our school life. The observations both ways are very refreshing!