Aim of the course
The study of French allows students to develop confidence and demonstrate competency in the most sought-after transferable skills.
There is no better way to demonstrate communication skills than through the ability to discuss, debate and persuade in another language. By the end of the course our students can also work collaboratively and individually to research topics, critically analyse information and creatively solve problems.
Cultural awareness is also increasingly important in our society and in the global economy. We aim to foster this awareness as we study Francophone culture across the different continents.
In the Lower Sixth, students develop proficiency in French through the in-depth study of French language, Francophone culture and current affairs. They learn increasingly more complex grammar and sophisticated language and develop a cultural knowledge which allows them to analyse authentic sources and express viewpoints fluently in speech and writing on a range of topics, including:
- Current trends in French-speaking society: technological advancements, changing attitudes towards family and marriage, and the impact of volunteering
- French culture: cultural heritage, cinema and music
- French political life: the involvement of young people, strikes and protests
In the Upper Sixth, further aspects of the social background are covered, this time focusing on issues such as life for those on the margins of French-speaking society as well as looking at the positive influences that diversity brings. These topics tie in well with the literary text and film that students study – the iconic film La Haine and the French classic L’étranger.
Students also have the opportunity to undertake an individual research project, in which they choose an aspect of French culture that is of interest to them and prepare to present and discuss this in the oral exam.
We encourage students to read French newspapers and magazines, listen to French radio and watch news online. We also delve into undergraduate-level grammar when students discover interesting structures in class and are keen to find out more.
We have a well-established exchange to Notre Dame de Sainte Croix, an independent school in Neuilly-sur-Seine, in Paris. As well as allowing students the opportunity to develop their language and cultural awareness by experiencing life in a French family and school, this exchange offers a programme of visits linked to the A level course.
Our students have enjoyed success in the Independent Schools’ and National French Debating Competitions, which we enter each year.
We support students who wish to undertake a work experience placement in a Francophone country. In recent summers, a number of our students have enjoyed work experience placements in France offered by the Halsbury company.
Two written papers and an oral exam at the end of the Upper Sixth.
Please note that Covid may have implications on the way exam boards award grades at this current time.
We also offer the DELF qualification
The Diplôme d’Etudes de Langue Française (DELF) is a highly regarded and internationally-recognised language qualification delivered by the French Ministry of Education via its worldwide network of Alliances Françaises. The DELF can open the door to universities and other higher education institutions in France and other Francophone countries. For those studying A level French, we offer the DELF at B2 level, and for those who are not, we offer the B1 level qualification.
DELF B1 for non-A level linguists
Each year, a number of students who are not studying A level French choose to take the DELF B1 in addition to their A level subjects. This practical, skills-based qualification allows students to develop knowledge of lexical fields more specifically targeted to higher education and working environments, which is useful for those who wish to keep their university and career options open.
As well as allowing access to some higher education institutions, the DELF B1 is:
- Recognised by employers around the world, so can assist in obtaining employment in international companies or voluntary organisations
- Is an excellent way for students to further strengthen their academic profile and stand out from the crowd
We teach the DELF B1 in two sessions a week in the Michaelmas and Lent terms of the Lower Sixth and students have the option of taking the qualification in addition to or instead of undertaking a research project.
DELF B2 for A level linguists
The DELF B2 is an additional and optional qualification for those studying A level French. It allows those who would like to keep their options open for future study or work in a Francophone country the opportunity to obtain internationally-recognised proof of their French language skills for life at the level required by most higher education providers and employers.
Thanks to the overlap between the DELF B2 and A level course, we are able to prepare students for the exam with one preparation session a week in the Michaelmas and Lent terms during the Upper Sixth.