The nature of the learners
Students are beginning their study of French and typically have had little prior exposure to the language and associated cultures. Many will have learnt an additional language in primary school, some have proficiency in different home languages and bring existing language learning strategies and intercultural awareness to the new experience of learning French. Students’ textual knowledge developed through English literacy learning supports the development of literacy in French. Skills in analysing, comparing and reflecting on language and culture in both languages are mutually supportive. Students may need encouragement to take risks in learning a new language at this stage of social development and to consider issues of how the experience impacts on the sense of ‘norms’ associated with their first language and culture.
French language learning and use
Learners are encouraged to listen to, speak, read and write French in a range of interactions with the teacher and each other. They use the language for interactions and transactions, for practising language forms, for developing cultural knowledge and for intercultural exchange. There is code mixing and code switching, as learners use all available resources to make meaning and express themselves. They use English when they need to, with teachers modelling back the French that would have served the required purpose. Rich and varied language input characterises this first level of learning, supported by the use of gestures, vocal and facial expression, and concrete materials. Learners experiment with sounds, intonation patterns and body language, using high-frequency words and expressions, gradually broadening their range of language functions. They notice how French is used differently in different contexts and how French speakers communicate in ways that may be different to their own. As they adjust language use to suit different purposes, contexts and situations, they notice how culture shapes language. Learners work collaboratively and independently. They pool language knowledge and resources, plan, problem-solve, monitor and reflect. They make cross-curricular connections and explore intercultural perspectives. They focus on the different systems (grammar, vocabulary, sounds) that structure language use, and reflect on their experience as French language learners and users. They gradually build a vocabulary and grammatical base that allows them to compose and present different kinds of simple texts.
Contexts of interaction
The French classroom is the primary context for language and culture experience, with ICT resources and community links providing access to additional resources and experiences. Learners may communicate with peers in France or other francophone contexts using teacher-guided ICT resources such as wikis, emails or online chat. They may also access French-language events or resources in the wider community, such as interschool activities, film festivals or cultural performances.
Texts and resources
Learners work with a range of texts designed for language learning, such as textbooks, audio recordings, teacher-generated materials and online resources. They also use materials designed for French students in different contexts (for example, blogs, newsletters, advertisements, magazines, video clips and apps). Authentic texts from different sources provide opportunities for discussion and analysis of the relationship between communication and culture.
Features of French language use
Students become familiar with the sounds of French, including pronunciation, rhythm, pitch and stress. They recognise similarities with many English words, noting differences in pronunciation (attention, menu). They approximate the pronunciation and phrasing of single words and short phrases, including vowel sounds such as -eau, -on, -ère and u, and unfamiliar consonants such as r and soft g. They understand and apply elements of French grammar such as subject-verb-object word order, simple verb forms, gender and number agreement of nouns and adjectives, pronouns and prepositions. Students understand that language is organised as text, and that texts use different structures and language features to achieve different purposes. They create their own texts, mainly using the present tense of regular and common irregular verbs, enriched by the use of adjectives and adverbs. They understand that language use reflects and shapes values and attitudes, and explore how language choices determine how people, events or circumstances are represented.
Level of support
Learning at this level is supported by rich and varied language input and the provision of experiences that are challenging but achievable. Support includes scaffolding, modelling and monitoring; explicit instruction and feedback; structured opportunities for understanding and practising new language; and the chance to revisit, recycle and review. Learners need access to a range of engaging and accessible support resources and materials, including print and digital texts, audio recordings, word banks, graphic organisers and dictionaries.
The role of English
Learners are supported to use French as much as possible for classroom routines and interactions, structured learning tasks, and language experimentation and practice. English is used for discussion, clarification, explanation, analysis and reflection. Learners develop a metalanguage for thinking and talking about language, culture and identity, and about the experience of learning and using French.