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"In order to thrive in the Modern World, a knowledge of other languages and the understanding of different cultures is not an optional extra but an essential part of being a citizen.”
In addition, the early exposure to a foreign language facilitates the acquisition of that language and the learning of other languages later in life. Many of our pupils go on to study a foreign language at A Level and beyond.
At St Hugh’s, French is taught by two subject specialists to all children starting in Nursery, as part of the normal school curriculum.
There are two visits to France every year, one for 11 year olds and the other for 12 year olds. These visits contribute enormously to the success of the children at Common Entrance and in their scholarship exams.
In Year 6 the children stay in a residential centre outside Paris and follow a programme of educational, cultural and social visits in order to get them better acquainted with France, its language and culture.
They spend a day in Paris visiting the ‘Eiffel Tower’, Trocadero, Montmartre, Sacré Coeur and they go on a boat-trip on the River Seine.
We have a link with a French school in Paris and in the Easter term the children exchange correspondence. The letters are a great eye opener for them. They learn about each other’s customs,
school and home life in a very informal manner and for all the children of both
countries it is a wonderful opportunity to practise the language learnt in the
classroom, forge new friendships and broaden their horizons. In addition, the topics covered in these letters are a useful preparation for Common Entrance.
As part of their introduction to the French way of life, the children spend a morning at a market where they are given euros with which to buy their own lunch. This is a very popular activity and a good opportunity to use their French and do some shopping.
They spend an afternoon in Versailles where they visit the palace and are able to appreciate some of the cultural wealth that France has to offer.
We aim to give children as much background information as possible before their departure so that they are able to place their visits in a cultural and historical context. This trip is always a great success.
Children in Year 7 (12 year olds) have a French language immersion week in a chateau in Normandy. Here, they follow a programme of ac tivities in French. These include climbing, an assault course, bread-making, archery, initiative exercises, circus skills and aeroball, as well as visits to a market and the ‘Mont St Michel’. They are under the supervision of French moniteurs, who help them practise the language and become better acquainted with French culture. This is always a very popular week. The children leave with a greatly improved ability to speak the language and, more importantly, the confidence to use it.
In Year 8, after their Common Entrance exams, the pupils have taster sessions in Mandarin, Arabic and German.
To give the children a fuller
appreciation of their European origin, and to raise awareness of Europe’s
multilingual wealth, we also celebrate ‘Languages’ Day’ every year.
Language-learning is primarily about communicating with people. We aim to foster a positive attitude to language-learning and feel that the study of foreign languages helps the children of St Hugh’s to be outward-looking and gives them a wider understanding of different countries and cultures.