Mme I. Saunders  - Head of French

“L’image la plus exacte de l’esprit français est la langue française elle-même”
(“The most accurate picture of the French spirit is the French language itself”)
Désiré Nisard (French author and literary critic, 1806-1888)

The department is passionate about fostering a love of French language and culture in our students. We aim to not only develop the linguistic competence of our students, but also to impart a thorough understanding of the different cultures of the French-speaking world.

Boys are introduced to French in Year 7 and carry on studying the subject in Year 8 with an emphasis on practical linguistic competence. A large number of students choose to study French at GCSE and we have a significant amount of linguists who decide to study this language at a more advanced level.

The department believes in the importance of bringing a language to life by spending time in a country in which it is spoken.  Year 7 pupils have the opportunity to participate in a day-trip to Boulogne.  The theatre company Onatti performs a French play to all students in Years 9 and 10.  It is expected that pupils studying GCSE French will participate in a residential trip to Normandy or our exchange with L´Institution de la Croix Blanche in Bondues near Lille and in Year 10, during Activity Week 2, students visit Normandy. In addition, we invite a French theatre company to St. Olave´s to perform a play in Years 9 & 10.

In regular conversation lessons, our Native-Speaker Language Assistants provide further practice of the topics in small groups. There is an opportunity for Yr 9 students to visit the Institut Français for one of their workshops for schools. The French cinema industry is the oldest and one of the most innovative and a day trip to the BFI Southbank is organised for a film viewing with workshop aimed at KS4 students. During the “semaine de la francophonie” in March, a variety of activities take place in order to celebrate the cultural and geographical diversity of the French language.

French is offered to A level at St. Olave’s and the school has a history of students’ going on successfully to read French at Oxford, Cambridge and other Russell Group universities either combined with another subject or as a single Honours Degree. It is highly sought after by employers and remains essential in the field of diplomacy and international organisations such as the UN and the OECD.

Our aim is to teach engaging and fun lessons, while providing our students with a sound understanding of the grammar. Our native-speaker assistants contribute to the achievement of excellent levels of oral competence of both our middle-school and upper-school students.

The following links provide further information:

French Curriculum Summaries:

KS3 KS3 Overview Year 7
End of KS3 Standard Year 8
KS4 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11
KS5 Year 12 Year 13  

Assessment Process:

Assessment and Feedback Process - Years 7 - 13

Wider reading suggestions for our students of French

KS3, KS4, KS5 French Reading Suggestions

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