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St Thomas Aquinas

Year 6 Transition


Head of Faculty - Mrs Michelle Bell

There is a Czech proverb which says, “You live a new life for every language you speak.” We believe that learning a language unlocks a world of culture, places, people, ideas, literature, film, music, history and so much more. Students who learn to speak a foreign language develop skills for life: they are more confident speakers who know how to choose their words carefully, project their voices and speak eloquently. They have a better understanding of the way their own language works and are well set to succeed in learning a second or third language. They learn to pay close attention to detail and can identify patterns and apply rules.

Our French curriculum has been designed to give our students the best possible chance of becoming confident language-learners with a positive attitude towards language learning and speakers of other languages. We aim to give students the tools they need, in terms of phonics, grammar and vocabulary, to be able to express themselves clearly and eloquently in both written and spoken French. We teach and regularly revisit commonly used vocabulary and grammatical structures, building students’ ability to use this language with increasing confidence in a wide range of contexts, from Year 7 through to Year 11 and Sixth Form. Students are regularly tested on pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary in order to strengthen their recall and also to identify any gaps in their learning. We strongly believe that learning a foreign language also supports students’ literacy skills in English, through the development of their understanding of sentence structure, grammar, vocabulary and communication skills. We help students to develop our key virtues of being attentive, intentional and eloquent in every lesson.




Year 7

Phonics: Our Year 7 curriculum focuses initially on phonics, teaching students the skills to pronounce new and familiar words correctly. We start with single sounds and then words, building up to recognising silent final consonants and liaison between words. Each sound is revisited several times throughout the year to build confidence and familiarity.

Grammar: Students learn to use nouns with correct genders and plural forms; adjectives with correct endings and position; negatives; regular and irregular verbs in the present tense; verbs followed by an infinitive and question forms. Each of these items is taught and then revisited in a later context or topic.

Vocabulary and topics: Students learn to describe themselves and others, talk about their school subjects, hobbies and where they live. They are able to give opinions and create longer sentences using a range of conjunctions.

Students read a variety of texts and listen to native speakers to develop their comprehension skills and their vocabulary. Homework regularly includes practice retrieval from the knowledge organisers.

Year 8

Phonics: Students in Year 8 continue to develop their knowledge of phonics and are taught to read aloud, using correct linking or liaison between words.

Grammar: We build on the grammar and vocabulary taught in Year 7, revisiting many high frequency items such as the present tense, and we teach students to use the perfect tense and the near future tense. Students are taught to be attentive when writing and translating, noting small differences in spelling and pronunciation which convey different meaning. They revisit adjectival agreement and learn how to use comparative adjectives. Question forms and all three tenses are further embedded.

Vocabulary and topics: We build on the topics covered in Year 7, teaching students to write and talk about films, books and online media. This is followed by a module about a visit to Paris in which students enjoy finding out about the French capital city and its famous sights. They learn to write and talk about relationships with family and friends and home life (home, rooms, food and celebrations.)


Overview of content and description of GCSE course

The Key Stage 4 French course builds on and revisits work covered during Key Stage 3, allowing students to extend, refine and improve their knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence structure. We develop our students’ ability to speak spontaneously, understand authentic texts including literary texts, translate into French and English and apply new language and structures independently.

Topics covered are as follows:

Theme 1 : Identity and Culture

  • Me, my family and my friends
  • Technology in everyday life
  • Free time activities
  • Customs and festivals in French speaking countries

Theme 2:  Local, National, International, Global areas of interest

  • Home, town, neighbourhood and region
  • Social issues
  • Global issues
  • Travel and tourism

Theme 3:  Current and Future Education

  • My studies
  • Life at school/college
  • Education post 16
  • Jobs, career choice and ambitions

The four key skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing are all tested discretely at GCSE level and are each worth 25% of the final GCSE grade.  An examination in each skill takes place at the end of the course, with the speaking test being conducted and recorded by the class teacher, but marked externally.


Why study this course?

The GCSE French course will develop your communication skills in both French and English, helping you to become an independent learner and learn about other cultures.  Linguists are highly valued in almost every career as every company requires articulate employees with good communication skills. In addition, most companies work with organisations abroad and/or speakers of other languages in this country. Languages are particularly useful in Business, Management, Law, Marketing, Administration, Medical careers, and Journalism. Britain has a national shortage of employees at all levels with language skills. The GCSE course will also prepare you for the A Level French course.

Links to specification

Our exam board at GCSE is AQA. Use this link https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/french-8658 to find the specification and past papers for exam practice.

Course content outline

Year 9 Unit 1

Topics covered: Me, my family and friends, Relationships with family and friends, Free-time activities, Sport

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Pronunciation and alphabet, review of phonics taught in KS3, Present tense of the verbs être, avoir, jouer and faire – in all 6 forms, Emphatic pronouns, Gender and articles: definite, indefinite and partitive, Possessive adjectives, Adjectives: agreement and position, Near / immediate future: aller + infinitive

Year 9 Unit 2

Topics covered: Home, town, neighbourhood and region, The environment, My house, Helping at home

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Pronunciation, Prepositions eg devant, à côté de, C’est / il y a / il n’y a pas de, Present tense of regular verbs, Subject pronouns, Present tense of the verb devoir, Near / Immediate future: aller + infinitive

Year 9 Unit 3

Topics covered: My studies, Life at school / college

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Pronunciation including liaison, Telling the time, Negatives, Agreement of adjectives, Reflexive verbs in the present tense, Comparative (plus/moins + adj, plus/moins de + noun), Review of present tense, Introduction of some elements of the conditional tense: j’aimerais, il y aurait, ce serait, il faudrait

Year 9-10 Unit 4

Topics covered: Travel and Tourism, Global Issues (the Environment)

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Continued review and practice of pronunciation, The perfect tense, The weather, à, en, au, aux with towns and countries, Using the present tense to talk about preferred holidays, Giving opinions in the past tense, including c’était and il y avait, Review of near future (aller + inf) to describe future holiday plans, Role-play phrases about booking accommodation, Il faut + infinitive, en + present participle (recognition)

Year 10 Unit 5

Topics covered: Sport; Food and eating out, Healthy / Unhealthy living

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: The perfect tense (review), The imperfect tense, Expressions with avoir, Reflexive verbs, Role-play phrases about illness, Parts of the body, Il faut and on devrait, The partitive with food items, Near / immediate future: aller + infinitive

Year 10 Unit 6

Topics covered: Home, Town, Neighbourhood and Region, The Environment; Travel and Tourism

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Asking questions, Using tu / vous, Understanding questions, The imperative, The comparative and superlative, Using the verbs vouloir, pouvoir and devoir + infinitive

Year 10 Unit 7

Topics covered: Education post-16, Jobs, Career Choices, Ambitions

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Near / immediate future: aller + infinitive, The future tense, The conditional tense, The perfect tense, The imperfect tense

Year 10-11 Unit 8

Topics covered: Sport; Free time activities, Customs and Festivals

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Asking questions to arrange outings, Role-play phrases for going out and for cafés and restaurants, The perfect and imperfect tenses, Vouloir, pouvoir and devoir, Using negatives, Using au/à la/à l’/aux with places

Year 11 Unit 9

Topics covered: Town, Shopping, Free-time activities

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: The partitive with food items, Quantities with de, The pronoun ‘en’, Ce/cet/cette/ces, Direct and indirect object pronouns (me, te, le etc), Qui/que, Afin de / pour + infinitive = in order to

Year 11 Unit 10

Topics covered: Music, Cinema, TV, Social Media and Mobile Technology

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Adverbs, The comparative and superlative, For comprehension and extension: The passive, The pluperfect, The subjunctive

Year 11 Unit 11

Topics covered: Social issues, Charity/voluntary work, Healthy/unhealthy living, Global issues, The environment, Poverty/homelessness

Language and Grammar Points revisited and developed: Review of tenses: F+H: Present, perfect, near future, H: Imperfect, Future, Conditional; Avant de + infinitive, Après avoir/être +pp, Asking questions


Overview of KS5 course

The Pearson Edexcel French A Level qualification has been developed to inspire and develop an appreciation of the language, literature, film and culture of the French-speaking world. We build upon the language taught in Key Stage 4 and help our students to become confident in their use of spontaneous spoken and written French. Students will read widely and listen to a range of authentic recordings to develop their comprehension skills. They will have regular lessons with our French Language Assistant to practise their spoken French.

Links to specification

This link will take you to the specification, resources and past papers for exam practice: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/french-2016.html

Course content outline

Year 12

Theme 1: Social issues and trends: Evolving society in France

Theme 2: Political and/or intellectual and/or artistic culture in Francophone countries

Book study

Year 13

Theme 3: Social issues and trends: Immigration and the French multicultural society

Theme 4: Political and/or intellectual and/or artistic culture:  The Occupation and Resistance

Film study

Independent Research Project


Assessment Details

KS3 Assessment details

Students complete regular vocabulary tests based on the Knowledge Organiser. In each module, they also complete 3 or 4 assessments covering grammar, translation, listening, speaking/phonics, reading and writing. In Years 7 and 8, we use these assessments to rank students and determine their attainment grade for the progress reviews (from A to E).

KS4 Assessment details

Students complete regular vocabulary tests based on the Knowledge Organiser. In each unit, they also complete 4 or 5 assessments covering grammar, translation, listening, speaking, reading and writing. In Year 9, we use these assessments to rank students and determine their attainment grade for the progress reviews (from A to E).

As students move through the GCSE course, they start to complete some practice papers, starting at Foundation Tier. In Year 11, exam practice becomes more frequent and there are several opportunities to complete exam questions or full papers. In the November and March Trial Exams, Year 11 students complete Listening, Reading and Writing exams at either Foundation or Higher Tier. They complete a Trial Speaking Exam in January of Year 11.

KS5 Assessment details

Students will complete frequent grammar and vocabulary tests as well as assessments at the end of each unit (covering the skills of Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing)

The A Level Exam papers are:

Paper 1: Listening, reading and translation    

Paper 2: Written response to works and translation 

Paper 3: Speaking (Internally conducted and externally assessed)


Exam papers and mark schemes can be found here: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/french-2016.coursematerials.html#%2FfilterQuery=category:Pearson-UK:Category%2FExam-materials


Why study French?

Studying for a GCSE or A Level in a modern language will help you to develop an interest in speaking a foreign language, appreciate the nature and diversity of different cultures and people, and acquire knowledge, skills and understanding for practical use, further study and employment.

Employers often require an understanding of other cultures, good oral communication skills and the discipline and work ethic that learning a language entails.  Languages can lead to a wide range of professions, for example: interpreting, translating, working in public and private businesses, law, engineering, politics, computing, travel and tourism, teaching and journalism.  Languages are an invaluable skill to have; they are key to the exciting multinational world we live in!


Useful links

GCSE Exam specification: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/french-8658

A Level Exam specification: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/french-2016.html

Active Learn: https://www.pearsonactivelearn.com/app/home

Your teacher will give you your login details and password for Active Learn, which you will use for some homework tasks.

Duolingo: https://www.duolingo.com/learn

The Duolingo app is an excellent, free resource which you can use for practising your French in your free time.


Extra-curricular activities

There is an opportunity for Key Stage 3 students to attend a French play organised by the Onatti Theatre Group or to take part in a role-play or spelling bee competition. Year 9 students may be selected to represent their school in a French quiz. Every year there is a four-day trip to Paris for Key Stage 4 students where they can experience French culture and practise their language before their GCSE exams.