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Languages - French

‘To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.’

 Chinese Proverb


What are Languages?

A language is a system of communication, which consists of a set of sounds and written symbols which are used by the people of a particular country or region for talking or writing.  Collins Dictionary


Why do we study Languages?

The study of language opens pupils’ minds and opens doors of opportunity. It develops a deep cultural awareness that is difficult to grasp without an understanding of the linguistic heritage of countries. The goals of wanting pupils to broaden their horizons, converse with others, explore cultures and strengthen their economic prospects will only be reached when we build firm boundaries of language learning.

Ofsted Research Review Series – June 2021


The National curriculum states the purpose of the study of languages as:

Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. A high-quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should enable pupils to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing. It should also provide opportunities for them to communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the original language. Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries


Through their study of the Opossum Languages curriculum, we intend that pupils will:

Develop phonics, vocabulary and grammar in target language (French)

The main tasks for early stage learners of another language are to secure the pillars of phonics, grammar and vocabulary in that language. Strengthening knowledge and understanding of these components enables learners to pronounce words correctly and structure their sentences accurately to communicate with others. We recognise that the vast majority of pupils at our school are novices in relation to speaking our target language –French – and will therefore need to increase confidence with these language pillars over time.


Broaden pupils’ horizons

Learning to communicate in another language creates opportunities for pupils. As they continue their studies towards expertise, opportunities for further study and employment open up to them.


Connect with others, as they are able to communicate with a wider range of people

Being able to communicate with someone using a common language is a rewarding human experience. Having friends and meeting new people can create joy in life.


Deepen connection to other cultures as they develop appreciation of the art, traditions and society of another culture

Learning a language builds cultural understanding and enables insights into how other communities see the world.


 Speak, listen, read and write with increasing fluency and confidence in the target language.

Pupils will use their secure knowledge of the building blocks of language (phonics, grammar and vocabulary) to communicate verbally and in writing in the target language. They will be able to engage in a simple oral conversation as well as being able to read and write passages in French.


Opossum Values

Through their study of Languages (French), Opossum values are realised.


Being respectful – Show appreciation for others and value their language, culture and heritage.

Being aspirational – hold a firm belief that all pupils are able to learn another language and can become increasing competent in communicating in it.

Being caring – develop empathy and connection with others from cultures where the target language is spoken.

Having integrity –produce sounds and pronounce words with accuracy

Being creative – Use the pillars of language to create their own oral and written texts.

Being community minded – connect with others and communicate with people within their community and beyond their experience.


Scope and sequence

The Opossum Languages (French) curriculum fulfils the requirements of the National curriculum.

Languages are taught at KS2, in line with National Curriculum requirements. Learning is sequenced to develop knowledge of phonics, grammatical structures and build a vocabulary base, which pupils can use to construct sentences to communicate with others.


Essential Knowledge

We teach three core strands of essential knowledge:                                                                         

  1. Phonics – the key components of the sound-writing relationship.                          
  2. Vocabulary – a set of the most frequently used words
  3. Grammar – the essential building blocks required to create simple sentences independently (including gender of nouns, singular and plural forms, adjectives (place and agreement), and the conjugation of key verbs)

Pupils learn to pronounce sounds accurately and blend them to say words in French.  They are introduced to grammatical features such as: the masculine and feminine forms, pronouns and verbs. They learn set phrases used commonly in conversation such as: ‘Quelle heure est-il? (what time is it?)  and how to respond.

Vocabulary is selected to enable pupils to have conversations about familiar topics and about those which are likely to interest them. These include: greetings, names, places, numbers and parts of the body. Over time, pupils learn to speak and write in more complex sentences.  Throughout the curriculum, pupils have the opportunity to speak, listen, read and write in French.


French is taught using the Rachel Hawkes scheme (credit:Dr Marie-Odile Guillou and Rachel Hawkes). KS2 children have a weekly French lesson of 30 minutes.  In addition they re-visit and deepen their learning for 5-10 minutes every day with structured language tasks that practise retrieval, improve retention and embed learning in long-term memory. Further opportunities to recycle key vocabulary (e.g. numbers) and develop children’s confidence are often built into classroom routines including greetings, providing instructions, stating lunch preferences, registration, rewards and praise on a more regular basis, even just for a few minutes in the school day e.g. when children are lining up.


A detailed scheme of work with audio-enabled resources for every lesson is provided in order to minimise unnecessary teacher workload and provide access to specialist delivery.

The curriculum exceeds the requirements of the National Curriculum through the inclusion of learning about elements of French culture through celebration events. This learning supports our intention of deepening connection to other cultures – thereby increasing pupils’ own cultural capital.