Department Background

French is a large and thriving department at Latymer. We have a dedicated and talented team of teachers who are committed to the idea that language learning should enable the student to use the language creatively and spontaneously. Students enjoy French, gaining excellent exam results, and a large number choose to study French A level.

The department is well resourced with the latest and most engaging coursebooks, and subscriptions to some excellent online materials (including interactive language learning websites and vocab learning apps like Quizlet). The library is very well stocked with novels, non-fiction books, DVDs and graphic novels in Frenchg, with resources to entertain and interest learners of all ages and abilities.

Extracurricular opportunities to develop French are a strength of the department – we have residential exchange trips in Y10 and Y12, plays in French for year 9 students and a range of clubs and societies run by 6th formers, including French Society, French Debating and ‘Oxbridge’ Curriculum Enrichment classes.

In class, we use a wide range of teaching techniques and materials to keep our students engaged and challenged. Typical activities include paired speaking activities, games to practise vocabulary and grammar, dictation to practise listening and reading skills, and filming performances of sketches students have written. Students use phonics to develop their pronunciation, listening and spelling skills. Students study authentic resources - video clips from French television, Bandes Dessinés (comic books), websites and literature, giving them an excellent grounding in idiomatic and more formal language.

Students make good use of the department’s class-sets of iPod touch devices, which allow them to record their speaking work and immediately send it to their blog.

Year 7 - 9

Our year 7 and 8 curriculum is designed to be accessible to absolute beginners, whilst providing those who have previously studied French with a solid understanding of the grammatical structures that will allow them to manipulate the language in a meaningful and creative way. In year 7 students learn to ask questions, describe people, places and things and communicate basic personal information, mostly in the present tense.

Year 8 is an acceleration – students learn to use past and future tenses, and gain confidence in producing longer and increasingly complex sentences.

Year 9 prepares students for GCSE, with introduction of the future simple and imperfect tenses, along with more complex descriptions and techniques to avoid repetition.

Year 10 - 11

Our curriculum in year 10 follows the Edexcel GCSE specification. Students expand their vocabulary and grammatical knowledge and become more autonomous learners. They begin to discuss topics in more detail, giving detailed descriptions and narrating events. Reading and listening are examined at the end of year 11, and students sit controlled assessments in speaking and writing throughout the course – these allow a lot of creativity, and all students are able to do produce something unique.

Year 12 - 13

We have excellent uptake to our A Level Course, with 2 classes running in year 12 and currently one class in year 13. We follow the AQA specification for A Level French, and students are issued with a login to access the electronic textbook and learning resources from the Kerboodle website. Teachers also make their own materials, often using video, to ensure the information is up-to-date.

All classes are co-taught by two main teachers. In addition, all A level students benefit from weekly 20-minute individual lessons with our assistante Mme Heddle. A fully qualified teacher, she works with students on a one-to-one basis, developing their conversation skills, but also any grammatical difficulties they might encounter. As a result of this our students are extremely well prepared for their oral examinations, and this is usually where students score the most marks.

Over the 2 year course students develop a more spontaneous and creative approach to speaking and writing French. More crucially, the content of the course requires them to develop a good knowledge, understanding of the culture of French-speaking countries (not just France!) and ability to engage critically with this culture.

Extra Curricular Opportunities for 6th Formers:
Please click here to see the Year 12 Exchange video of Toulouse.

  • Residential exchange with Lycée St Sernin in Toulouse (October of Year 12)
  • French Society –Students give presentations about aspects of Francophone culture
  • French Debating – bi-weekly debates in French about controversial issues, culminating in competitive debates against other schools
  • Optional enrichment classes – some extra grammar, but mainly exposure to more challenging literature, philosophy and semiotics. To prepare for undergraduate study, and especially for Oxbridge entry.
  • Year 12 and 13 students also play a vital role as French subject mentors for younger pupils.

In the first year of the A Level (and AS) students develop the creativity and spontaneity of their spoken and written French, dramatically improve their vocabulary and consolidate their grammatical knowledge, including mastering more sophisticated structures like the subjunctive mood.

They discuss and debate serious social issues such as cybercrime, gay marriage and social marginalisation. They develop their critical faculties, and learn to challenge and refute established ideas. They are introduced to the study of French history, politics, literature and especially film with La Haine - Kassovitz’s violent masterpiece of cinema about the Parisian suburbs. Students will speak and write critically about film, analysing the director’s use of plot, character, soundtrack and cinematography to explore particular themes and transit his message.

To see a clip of the video please click here

Year 1 / AS Topics:

  • The changing nature of family (La famille en voie de changement)
  • The 'cyber-society' (La « cyber-société »)
  • The place of voluntary work (Le rôle du bénévolat)
  • A culture proud of its heritage (Une culture fière de son patrimoine)
  • Contemporary francophone music (La musique francophone contemporaine)
  • Cinema: the 7th art form (Cinéma : le septième art)
  • Set text (Film): La Haine (1995) by Matthieu Kassovitz

In the second year of A Level, students learn about and debate complex and controversial topics such as social unrest in French suburbs, secularism (the recent banning of the Islamic veil in public places) and responses to terrorism, all through the lense of Francophone culture. They read literature, including Boule de Suif by Maupassant – a bleakly funny tale about power, class, religion and sexuality set during the Franco Prussian war of 1871.

Year 2 Topics:

  • Positive features of a diverse society (Les aspects positifs d'une société diverse)
  • Life for the marginalised (Quelle vie pour les marginalisés ? )
  • How criminals are treated (Comment on traite les criminels)
  • Teenagers, the right to vote and political commitment (Les ados, le droit de vote et l'engagement politique)
  • Demonstrations, strikes – who holds the power? (manifestations, grèves – à qui le pouvoir ? )
  • Politics and immigration (La politique et l'immigration)
  • Set text (Film): Boule de Suif (1881) by Guy de Maupassant

Activities and Recent Highlights

Annual Trips and events:

Year 8 - trip to the Europa Centre - a fun afternoon in a simulated french town.

Year 9 - a morning watching a comical play peformed by professional actors.

Year 10 residential exchange with Tours.

Year 12 residential exchange with Toulouse

Extra-Curricular (activities run by students, mostly at lunchtimes)

French club for years 7 to 9

Sixth Form French weekly Debating Society

Oxbridge enrichment lessons in Year 13