As an International school we value languages very highly. Not only do we strive to improve, enhance and enrich the use of English throughout the school, we even endeavour to turn every student into a fluent speaker of Spanish as well. And that is not all! In addition to these two languages, Swans International counts with an active Modern Language Department. Students are given the choice in year 7 to study French, German or Chinese.
French in Primary
Children are exposed to a modern foreign language from the age of 8. Therefore, from y4 to y6 French is obligatory for one hour per week. For 3 years they learn the basics of a language. Oral is a priority, because at this age the ear is sensitive to different pronunciations and children have a great ability to reproduce new sounds in this period of their life. The child is prepared for the understanding of another language through songs, poems and simple conversation.
French in Secondary
Key Stage 3
The introduction to French, started in Primary is either continued or interrupted in year 7 depending on which of the three languages is chosen. Once the choice has been made the students continue their choice of language until the end of year 9 with one hour and a half per week. All the principals of oral work from Primary are refreshed and deepened. New arrivals in year 7 therefore are not disadvantaged.
The French department organises external excursions from year 8, such as visits to the theatre, French films in Málaga and a trip to Paris at the end of year 9 (usually in June).
As for the theatre, the plays are usually taken from classic authors such as Molière, Victor Hugo or Gaston Leroux. Students are prepared by the relevant teachers beforehand in order to get the most out of the performance. This means that the script is read and explained in class. Students enjoy this outing and it gives them some insight into French culture.
The highly popular excursion to Paris for the year 9 students is both a cultural and linguistic education. We might call this the “Flagship” of excursions at Swans. An initiative created by Mme. Dorien in 2007, this is the only excursion of the school, which takes the students abroad. Every year many of the year 9 students participate and come back enthusiastic and enriched. The pupils are hosted by French families and are shown some of the famous sites, monuments and museums. Time is set aside for more light hearted entertainment with a boat trip on the Seine and a dinner in a restaurant.
Equally at the end of year 9, students are offered the possibility to enter for the DELF A1 (Diplôme d’études en langue française) qualification. The DELF certificate is a well known and recognised diploma which is in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). The exam will enable the students to consolidate their knowledge of French after various years of studying the language. The A1 diploma also gives students a stronger feeling of focus and aim and it forms a solid base for continuing studying French at IGCSE in year 10 and 11.
Key Stage 4
At the end of year 9 the students must choose their options for IGCSE. French is offered as an option and students will continue to learn the language in more detail. The preparation of the IGCSE exam is a two-year course during year 10 and year 11. Students will sit their IGCSE French with the EDEXCEL board at the end of year 11. We are proud to say that the French department counts with a success rate of 98% A*-B since 2005.
During their two-year course, students will have two and a half hour tuition per week.
In year 12 we start a two-year study for the International Baccalaureate. The French exam is a complete evaluation of both written and oral skills. The emphasis is on communicative skills in speech and writing and on understanding the culture of the language. Practice of the oral skills is certainly a priority, but also independent reading and autonomous study are of great importance. Reading and writing are tested by externally set examinations and written coursework (70%), while oral skills are tested internally (30%).
Depending on the level chosen by the student at which to study French, Swans offers 9 lessons/fourtnight at Higher level and 6 lessons/fourtnight at Standard level. The grading of the IB diploma comes down to a point score. Each of the six subjects of the diploma is marked out of 7 (where 7 is the highest score). The results of 2015 show two students with a 7 for French!