In this age of cosmopolitan travel, fluency in a second language is a great enrichment, giving access not only to the language and culture of another country, but in addition a greater insight into English itself, enhanced as it is by its borrowings from Norman French. For residents of Canterbury, for whom Calais is closer than London, the opportunity to deepen our understanding of our near neighbours in France is not to be missed.
The department is fortunate in including two native French speakers, so that not only is the quality of language assured, so too is the deep understanding of French culture and French life. Teaching emphasises oral fluency, but not at the expense of a proper understanding of grammar.
The subject is taught to all members of the Lower Fifth (Year 9), with the exception of those for whom English is itself a second language. Thereafter, pupils are strongly encouraged, though not compelled, to study at least one of French or Spanish.
At A-level, the department objectives include:
- Working towards establishing French as the principal language within the classroom in order to develop students’ fluency and comprehension
- Exploring the cultural diversity of the French-speaking world and encouraging critical reflection
- Preserving linguistic rigour through the formal study of grammar
- Providing success in public examinations
- Encouraging students to further study modern languages at university
Pupils’ experience of the language is enriched by overseas visits. For example, Upper Sixth (Year 13) pupils using Switzerland as one of their chosen areas of specialism visited the country to get direct experience of the country, its distinctive culture and the distinctive features of its French usage.