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Primary schools trial intensive French learning

15 January 2018

​Year 5 students in two States primary schools have made a year’s progress in French in just six weeks during a successful intensive teaching pilot.

Seventy-five children from Bel Royal and La Moye schools spent six weeks learning French intensively in October and November 2017. Alongside their normal English, maths and science lessons, the pupils had an hour of French every day. They also explored other subjects, such as geography, art and sport, using France and French culture.

The children, one class from Bel Royal and two from La Moye, also worked on group and individual performances of French songs, poems and pieces of drama. These were performed at the Jersey Eisteddfod and all three classes won gold awards. To end the project, students staged special assemblies to show their parents what they had learnt.

The class teachers were supported during the pilot by French specialist Rachael Surcouf, an experienced Jersey teacher. The schools were also joined by two visiting primary school teachers from Normandy who were here for a week. Teaching resources were specifically developed for the ‘French Experience’ project, with some advice from Alliance Française. Secondary students from Les Quennevais School were also involved.

Curriculum adviser Rachel Baxter, who organised the pilot, said “Each pupil was assessed in French speaking, listening, reading and writing at the start and end of the programme and the progress made by the pupils has been magnificent. On average, the pupils have moved their French skill and understanding on by at least one year during just six weeks.

“In each class there are also several pupils who, aged only 9 or 10, have reached the standard expected for 11 or 12 year olds.  More importantly, their levels of enthusiasm and engagement were fabulous.”

Chief Education Officer Justin Donovan said “Improving French and other languages is one of the long-term aims of our business plan and this represents an important step forward. We hope to build on this success with more training for our teachers so that they are confident and well supported in teaching French to the highest possible level.”

Education Minister Deputy Rod Bryans said “It was obvious at the school assemblies how much the children and their teachers had enjoyed this experience. I was impressed by the standard of French and the students’ excellent pronunciation. Not only were they having great fun, but they were clearly very proud of what they achieved.”

“I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this a success and am delighted that we have been able to work directly with our colleagues in Normandy in such a positive way. I know there are already plans for these links to continue and even be expanded over the coming year.”

The next step will be the creation of a new French Network to share best practice with other teachers across the island. Bespoke training will be offered to Jersey primary schools to support this expansion of French in Jersey schools.

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