Within the French department, the fundamental aim is to provide each child with a sound understanding of the basics of the French language and culture and to develop an interest and love for it.
This is achieved via a rigorous learning process where the highest standards are expected bearing in the mind the children’s different abilities. All members of the department are committed to giving as much of their time as possible to ensure the linguistic understanding and happiness of their pupils. By the end of their time at Cheam, all pupils should feel very confident in their relative ability in the French language.
At Cheam, all children are taught in forms until Year 5, where they then break to three or four sets for the purpose of more effective differentiation.
The target language is used in class to give as much of an immersive experience to the children as possible all the while using English to make sure that the grammatical concepts and content of the lesson is understood.
To ensure the children are progressing steadily with their understanding of the language, they are required to learn vocabulary every week from Year 4. This allows them to gain confidence and to feel fully prepared when approaching Common Entrance or Scholarship exams at the end of Year 8. The children are also given the opportunity to be formally assessed in their spoken French at least twice a year in order to make them as comfortable as possible when the speaking exams come along.
Over the course of the year, whether it be in the Pre-Prep or the Prep School, Cheam celebrates the French culture by organising a French Day which gives the whole school a chance to be together. France is also celebrated with French Breakfasts which Pre-Prep puts in place several times a year, alongside a special French Assembly.
Every child gets the opportunity to visit France with the school. Indeed, in Year 7 the pupils are taken on a week’s residential trip to Burgundy where they are surrounded by French speakers and French culture. This trip is very popular and is often considered as one of the best memories of pupils at Cheam.
In the past few years, the increased use of ICT has enhanced the children’s learning experience of the French language which in turn leads them to become more independent learners, curious about watching and listening to French resources such as films, series and songs. By the end of Year 8, Cheam hopes to have enable its pupils to enjoy and continue their studies of the French language with success.