About the Department
The French Department forms part of the Modern Languages Department at King’s. French is a very popular subject at both GCSE and A Level and students achieve excellent academic results. Some students go on to study French at University either as a stand-alone subject or as part of a Joint Honours Degree.
GCSE: In 2019, 54% of candidates achieved 9-7.
A Level: In 2019, 100 % gained A*-B.
Subject Content & Syllabus
In Years 7 and 8 the ‘Expo’ course is followed. Teaching is dynamic and lively and staff use a variety of activities and approaches to best teach the four skills required in a language classroom: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Year 7 pupils study French alongside German and Spanish and are taught 4 periods of French per fortnight. The Year 7 course covers the basics and also aims to stretch and challenge those who have already studied some French. Towards the end of Year 7, pupils decide which languages they wish to continue studying in Year 8 from a choice of French, Spanish, German and Latin.
Class sizes are typically 12 - 24 in Years 7- 9. During Year 8 pupils receive 5 periods of French teaching per fortnight plus approximately 1 hour of homework. In Year 9 pupils start working from the GCSE course book ‘Studio,’ and are taught French for 5 periods per fortnight; they receive 1½ hours of homework per fortnight.
Key Stage 4: At GCSE, the AQA Examination Board specification is followed. The ‘Studio’ course is followed. The skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing are assessed in four papers at the end of Year 11. The topics covered are based around three themes: Theme 1: Identity and culture, Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest, and Theme 3: Current and future study and employment. The oral examination includes role plays and a conversation, while the written examination includes different types of writing tasks of different lengths. In Years 10 and 11, pupils receive 6 periods of French teaching per cycle and approximately 2 hours of homework.
All pupils in Years 10 and 11 benefit from the help of a native French Assistant who is familiar with the examination content. Support sessions are available where needed from the subject teacher. Fortnightly lessons are timetabled in the language laboratories.
At A Level, we follow the Hodder French for AQA course. In Years 12 and 13, pupils receive 12 periods of teaching per fortnight. The class sizes in Years 12 and 13 usually do not exceed single figures to ensure that pupils receive the right level of individual attention. All A Level pupils benefit from at least one hour per fortnight of timetabled conversation practice with the French Assistant. Fortnightly lessons are timetabled in the language laboratories.
At A Level, the topics covered include aspects of French-speaking society: current trends; current issues; artistic culture in the French-speaking world; and aspects of political life in the French-speaking world. All examinations are taken at the end of Year 13. The examination consists of a speaking exam and two written papers; Paper 1 covers listening, reading and writing and Paper 2 is an essay paper based on the study of a French book and a film. The oral examination lasts about 20 minutes in total and includes a presentation based on an individual research project. For the Sixth Form, we recommended a minimum of Grade 7 at GCSE level to embark on French at this level, although pupils achieving a Grade 6 at GCSE French may be considered on an individual basis.
Monitoring & Assessment
At Key Stage 3, all pupils are assessed each term and movement between sets is usually possible. Pupil progress is closely monitored, appropriate targets for improvement are set with guidance given and regular feedback to parents.
At Key Stage 4, pupils are regularly monitored and assessed. Targets are set regularly and support is offered and put in place. End of year examinations are taken at the end of Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. Public exams (GCSE and A Level examinations) are taken in Years 11 and 13.
At KS3, pupils are invited to attend various French and MFL clubs. Additional enrichment activities run throughout the year to celebrate such events as ‘European Day of Languages’ as well as the North West Modern Languages Spelling Bee. In Year 7 we take a large group to France for an activities holiday which is run by French staff. In Years 10 and 11 we take a group to Paris, and at Sixth Form level we take a group of students for either a study visit to Normandy or a work experience trip in Nantes or Montpellier. At KS4, pupils are encouraged to attend French support clinics as well as be part of the MFL Linguavox editorial team which gives older students a chance to write in French for a school magazine. At KS5, we offer extra-curricular activities such as study days at nearby universities, trip opportunities and prestigious competitions such as the annual regional MFL debating competition.
The range of combined degrees and further education courses involving a language is limitless. Many universities even offer funding for students to continue or extend their language knowledge by travelling or working abroad during the holidays.