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At Gospel Oak we are delighted that MFL is now a part of The New National Curriculum (September 2014). We have been committed to offering children a thorough and progressive curriculum in French since 2005. Over the last few years staff and pupils alike have made amazing progress and we can clearly see the benefits of learning a language in the primary sphere. Teachers and pupils have noticed how it can develop speaking and listening skills and understanding about how language works. French is now thoroughly established at Gospel Oak. The children are very keen and extremely fast learners!

We originally built staff capability by training with William Ellis and with Emma Read (Camden Advisory teacher for MFL). Emma made a DVD about this project that you can view by clicking here. The DVD is now used for training in other Camden schools. Our language co-ordinator was also seconded by Camden Schools Improvement Services one day a week over two years and wrote a scheme of work for Years 5 and 6, as well as modelling lessons for teachers who were new to languages. We now host regular Network Meetings for MFL co-ordinators across Camden. Therefore we have very good in-house support and are often recommended to other Camden schools who are looking for ways to develop their language teaching!

Weekly lessons are taught by class teachers who are often supported by native speaking Language Assistants who are funded by the British Council or French speaking parents. The language assistants and parents support the school in many ways. They stretch higher attaining children during lessons and support those who are less confident. Furthermore, they take out small groups for fun and physical activities. They support intercultural understanding by team teaching, running weekly lunchtime clubs and preparing assemblies. Language assistants have made excellent use of the interactive whiteboard playing competitive games and showing children real French television programmes, music videos and educational programmes. The language assistant is now an integral part of school life and we can’t imagine being without one!

Introduction to Archamps PDF

Karin Oleinikova, a parent governor, has helped Year 3 to set up a link with a French Primary School in Archamps near the boarder with Switzerland. The children are regularly exchanging work, providing a real audience for written work in French, as well as interesting intercultural comparisons.

We held a tremendously successful Enrichment Day to launch the subject. Children added to their growing knowledge of the French language by learning about many aspects of French culture. They learnt French songs, tasted regional cheeses, cooked éclairs and Salad Niçoise. They also created art based on the works of Seraut, learnt about the French world cup team and were challenged to build the tallest Eiffel Tower from straws! The day was enhanced by a fantastic French theatre group called Compagnie Tête-a-Tête. Their interactive performance, 'Le château de Dan Roro,' included French traditions such as Mime, Ventriloquism as well as numerous circus skills. We finished off the day with a staff vs children boule competition, umpired by Alan.

We have followed up the intercultural element by establishing a new Francophone country focus for each year group. Year 3 naturally start with France, then Year 4 move on to Quebec ( Canada), Year 5 Morocco and Year 6 Vietnam. In this way children can see that French is a globally spoken language. Through the British Councils Connecting Classrooms project Year 5 have linked up with two primary schools in Morocco. This allows children to practise their French in a real and meaningful context but also in the safety and security of their own classroom. We envisage many joint cross-curricular projects that will see our children develop their understanding of children in other countries and be a motivational sphere in which to apply their learning in class. Click here to find out more about our partner schools and the first year of the project and exchanges made this year!

Language learning at Gospel Oak does not stop with French. We have after school clubs where children can learn Albanian, Bengali, Somali and Bangladeshi. We have set up a link with University College London whose students run a highly successful Mandarin club each year. This year we have also been able to offer a German club! Gifted and Talented Year 6 students also attend the annual William Ellis taster day where they take part in Russian, German, Portuguese, Mandarin and Latin lessons.

If you want to help your children at home, please ask them about what they are learning. You can test them out on new vocabulary or take them to the library to borrow books about the French language, France and Francophone countries. If you have internet access there are some excellent websites such as http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryfrench .