Learning a foreign language is an investment that lasts a lifetime. Critical thinking skills, creativity and a sense of global citizenship are awakened and nurtured. Being able to speak and understand another language is a passport to other cultures and experiences and offers opportunities for fulfilled travel and to forge lasting friendships.
The aim of the Modern Languages Department is to promote an appreciation of other languages and cultures, an improvement in literacy and communication skills and a passion for language learning. The effectiveness of traditional methods is recognised and respected, with the expectation of regular vocabulary learning and testing, but we also appreciate that children learn in different ways and we therefore experiment with new strategies and resources to ensure that our children are engaged and excited by their language lessons.
French at Vinehall is introduced in the Pre-Prep by a subject specialist. The children learn through songs, games and rhymes. From a very young age the children become used to hearing a foreign language and understand that English is not the only means of communication. They are encouraged to listen and repeat what they hear, at first by singing together and then by answering familiar questions in French or pointing to objects and naming them and/or the colour or number in in French.
As the pupils progress into the Prep School, we have developed our own course materials which consolidate the main points of grammar, whilst expanding the range of vocabulary around key themes. In order to keep learning energetic, purposeful and fun, we use a range of materials and methods, including video clips of short stories, catchy action songs, classroom games and role-plays. We encourage children to develop confidence in communicating effectively and to learn skills in independent learning and coping with unfamiliar language.
Perhaps the highlight of learning French for Vinehall pupils is the week in June in which all of Year 7 travel to Normandy and stay at the Château de la Baudonnière. Immersed in French language, history, gastronomic pleasures, outward bound activities and culture, they have the opportunity to put into practice the language they have been learning and to make other curricular links to History, Geography, Sport and even cooking. They return, without exception, having broadened their horizons and opened another door on life.