For almost every child at Cranleigh Preparatory School their French lessons will represent their first and/or main exposure to any foreign language. As such it is vital that they develop and maintain a positive attitude towards the subject if they are to pursue French, or any other language, to a higher level. It is our responsibility as language teachers to ensure that our pupils are aware of different peoples, their cultures and their speech. The long term aim therefore is that, as adults, our pupils have the confidence and the will to use their French whenever the opportunity arises.
If the children leave Cranleigh with a real desire to find out more about France and the French, irrespective of their ability in the language, then we will have rendered them a real service.
The initial and most important objective in the French Department is that each child enjoys their studies, regardless of their age or ability. In the first two years the children follow a scheme that exposes them to real-life situations, alternating between language and culture units. They will learn how to introduce themselves, make and buy bread, describe appearance with a fashion show and ask for ice-cream, leading to a role-play in which they ‘buy’ real ice-cream. During the culture units, they will find out about a typical French town, other French-speaking countries, art and fashion, music and film, food and drink, World War II in France and much more.
As they progress through the middle school and into the upper school we hope to maintain their enthusiasm while they encounter the more formal grammar based approach to French. Songs and games are still used but they generally carry a grammar point within the lyrics or content. It is hoped that each child will perform to his or her potential in class on a day-to-day basis and also in the exams.
The majority of pupils should be able to achieve a grade B or higher at Common Entrance if they have gone through the whole system at Cranleigh and that becomes the main objective in the upper school. Children entering the upper school from other schools often have large gaps in subject knowledge but we still hope to be able to help them to perform to the best of their ability given the short amount of time they have with us