“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” – Flora Lewis
The French Department at Lumen Christi College is committed to fostering in our students a love of French language and culture. Students are encouraged to develop not only effective communication skills through listening, speaking, reading and writing, but to develop a curiosity for lifelong language-learning and an interest in the different cultures of the Francophone world. Students are provided with meaningful opportunities to develop a sound grasp of the language across all four skills, using a range of purposely-designed and authentic learning resources whilst incorporating the latest methodologies in language teaching and ICT.
Key Stage 3
In Years 8-10, pupils are encouraged to confidently use simple French needed to cope with everyday situations that one might encounter on holiday or when working abroad. Topics studied and resources used are carefully chosen to ensure they are relevant and engaging for students and provide opportunities to make progression in their language skills. Students participate in a range of active learning experiences which are varied to suit individual learning styles but have as their main aim the acquisition of language for communication. As language teachers, we aim to create a supportive learning environment where students are praised for their contributions to class, pragmatism and work ethic.
The GCSE French course seeks to build on the foundations laid at Key Stage 3. Students are introduced to new material and topics as well as covering in greater depth many of the areas already focused on in Years 8-10. The GCSE course aims to increase pupils’ oral and written proficiency in French by further developing the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students also learn much more about modern French culture and life in Francophone countries. They are encouraged to recognise that their linguistic knowledge, understanding and skills in French will help them to take their place in a multilingual global society. Learning experiences are designed to provide the opportunity for the development of personal and inter-personal skills, study skills, thinking and reasoning skills and increased versatility and confidence in communication for a variety of purposes. They also serve to enhance students’ self-esteem and creativity by stimulating their curiosity and imagination.
The CCEA A Level French course enables students to develop and build on the skills acquired at GCSE to become more confident speakers and language users. The core contexts in Year 13 include Family Relationships, Culture and Lifestyle. In Year 14, students study the varied themes of Young People in Society and Our Place in a Changing Word and therefore learn much more about modern French culture, including current events, music and film. In addition, students study two pieces of French Literature and carry out personal research on an aspect of a French-speaking country or community. Senior pupils attend weekly language classes with a native French speaker to develop their oral proficiency while independent learning is fostered via personal research, peer-teaching and exam practice exercises.
Learning French at A Level provides students with the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and attributes; confidence, independence, communication and presentation techniques, IT competence, as well as skills in research, evaluation and analysis that universities and employers value highly. In addition, languages are increasingly becoming a requirement for many graduate schemes.
The French Department prides itself on its extracurricular provision, organising activities and events throughout the year to celebrate our students’ cultural and linguistic diversity. Our annual celebrations for European Day of Languages includes French Breakfasts, a European-themed lunch menu and whole-school language assemblies and competitions. The Onatti Theatre group visit annually to perform a play to Key Stage 3 pupils and in-house competitions such as ‘Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier?’ and Tour Eiffel challenge ensure there is a healthy sense of competitiveness among junior classes. French Film Club has proven popular with junior students also. Senior pupils have participated in the Juvenes Translatores Translation Competition, QUB Translation 2021 competition and four pupils have reached the final of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad with one student going on to represent Ireland in the International Linguistics Olympiad in Prague. Extracurricular Speaking Clinics offer senior students the opportunity to prepare for external exams in a supportive and relaxed environment to ensure they give the best account of themselves on the exam day.
Where to next?
We firmly believe that learning a language and studying another culture broadens the mind and widens your horizons. Knowledge of a foreign language is not just another GCSE or A Level grade; it is a concrete and demonstrable life skill, like being able to drive a car, and it is a skill which is highly valued by employers. In an increasingly global economy, proficiency in a foreign language is a highly marketable job skill. French students have opportunities to improve their communication and interpersonal skills, all of which are highly sought after by employers and universities alike. There is a great diversity in career opportunities for French specialists specifically. These include Interpreting, Marketing and Public Relations, Tourism, Law, Media and Governmental Organisations.
Former Lumen Christi French students have gone on to pursue careers in a variety of employment sectors including Journalism, Accountancy, Dentistry, Medicine, Teaching, Music, Environmental Geoscience, Geography, Social Work, International Business with Languages and Law.