Nelson Mandela said: “Talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. Talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” 

French is a major world language, being the mother tongue of 119 million people in 30 different countries and spoken by 264 million people worldwide.  Together with English, French is the only other language spoken on every continent.  At Gravesend Grammar School, the French Department aims to provide opportunities to develop cultural awareness through the use of the language websites we subscribe to, provision of French clinics with native speakers, cultural links with schools in France, and visits to France.  Learning a language helps the ability to communicate, access, interpret and present precise information, and develop cultural knowledge.

Key Stage 3 French

In the first two years of a 5-year journey to GCSE, the KS3 French course aims to build confidence in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and translation skills, and forming grammatical structures; independent use of resources is encouraged.  The course also focuses on increasing cultural awareness.  Students can benefit from guidance from subject mentors in KS5 and KS4 for stretch and support.

Key Stage 4 French

The KS4 French course will develop the use of transferable skills learned during language lessons in the lower school.

Key themes for the AQA French GCSE – Theme 1: Identity and Culture; Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest and Theme 3: Current and future study and employment. 

Key skills: translation, both in and out of French, gap-fill, summarising ideas, listening for gist, using authentic sources, sentence completion, and writing for different purposes/registers. 

On the GGS Cloud ‘Independent Learning Area’ accessible via the school site, students have access to resources for examination and skills practice, as it provides examination and skills practice materials.

For exploration, students can use the French department’s document ‘Ideas: Wider reading and independent study: Back to Basics and Beyond….’.  Students can take advantage of Subject Mentors from KS5, and from the French Language Assistants, in addition to that provided by subject specialist staff.

Looking to the future, post-GCSE, it is worth considering that in responding to a survey (Confederation of British Industry) in which languages were most considered beneficial to their business, nearly half of businesses (41%) acknowledged a need for language skills, with the most sought after languages being French, German and Spanish. Source: (accessed 6.8.21, 09.45).  

You may wish to explore the French GCSE information video – Click here. (13 minutes).

Key Stage 5 French

Studying French at A-level is likely to give you the edge over a similar applicant without a linguistic background wishing to enter university or gain employment.  French, as with other modern and classical languages, is viewed as a facilitating subject by Russell Group universities.  Some degree courses allow students to create bespoke programmes incorporating both arts and sciences subjects.  These kinds of options offer students a range and depth of knowledge. (Source: Russell Group).

The A-level course builds on key transferable skills required by top universities and employers alike, enhancing linguistic, cultural and cognitive flexibility, developing critical and analytical thinking, and the ability to research independently.

An ideal course for students with a genuine interest in French culture, language and literature, particularly avid readers, and those with the willingness and commitment to go beyond the course requirements by using multi-media such as radio, TV, film and the internet.

Looking to the future…. Student Voice:

Former GGS students who went on to take French or German A-level and to study a language (and in some cases two languages or a joint honours degree with another subject i.e. Economics/ History/ Law) have shared their thoughts on the importance and benefits of taking a language, not just at GCSE, but beyond…. To hear some key reasons summarised from our old boys – click here. 

You may wish to explore the sixth form information video with further testimonials from old boys.  It can be found on YouTube click here (Title: SIXTH FORM INFORMATION EVENING 2020 French).