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In the Modern World, knowledge of other languages and an understanding of different cultures are not optional extras but an essential part of being a citizen. At St Hugh’s we also aim to make learning languages stimulating and enjoyable.
French is taught by four subject specialists to all children as part of the normal school curriculum from Nursery to Year 8. There are three native speakers in the department. This early start not only makes it easier for them to progress in French but facilitates the learning of other languages later in life. By the time they leave pupils should have a clear understanding of French grammar, the confidence to express themselves freely, both orally and in writing, and some experience of communicating in French with both adults and children.
Many of our pupils go on to study foreign languages at A Level and beyond, and to encourage a general interest in languages we offer language clubs from Year 5.
High points of the French Department’s year is the Year 7 trip to France. This visit contributes enormously to the success of the children at Common Entrance and in their scholarship exams.
Children in Year 7 (11-12 year olds) have a French language immersion week in a chateau in Normandy. Here, they follow a programme of activities in French. These include climbing, an assault course, bread-making, archery, rafting, initiative exercises, circus skills and aeroball, as well as visits to a market and to ‘St Malo’. They are under the supervision of French moniteurs, who help them practise the language and become better acquainted with the French way of life. 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.
The French Department runs revision clubs, catch-up session, a conversation club and for some older pupils a weekly “lunch in French”. In addition, in Year 8, after the Common Entrance exams, all pupils have taster sessions in Spanish and Mandarin. Language-learning is primarily about communication with people from different countries. We aim to make this a positive experience so that the children of St Hugh’s will become outward-looking and eager to gain a lifelong interest in different countries and cultures.