Modern Foreign Languages

At Charles Dickens children learn French. Our language lessons are taught by a language specialist teacher for whom French is her mother-tongue.
Children begin their language journey with French in reception classes. Younger children in the early years are taught French for 30 minutes per week, initially in smaller groups. Children in Year 3 upwards have one hour per week of French teaching.

From Year 2, our approach to teaching French becomes phonics-based. We teach sound by sound and we repeatedly focus upon the common letter combinations in French. This focus helps pupils to quickly master correct pronunciation and accurate spelling, emphasising that there is no such thing as an entirely new word. We habitually look for links between words we already know and new words. We habitually look for links with English. The focus is on ensuring spoken and written accuracy.


Children are immersed in French through stories, songs and rhymes. Lessons are built around the following language objectives:

  • Responding to simple, know songs with gesture
  • Responding with actions to stories read aloud with visual support
  • Experimenting with French vowel sounds through songs and games
  • Recognising simple greetings
  • Comparing traditional stories

Children are taught weekly by the French teacher, in a 30-minute session.

Key Stage 1

French is taught weekly in Key Stage 1 – a thirty-minute session each week for Year 1 and Year 2. The children learn French through songs, stories and games. The focus in Key Stage 1 is building the children’s confidence to ‘have a go’ at speaking French with correct pronunciation as well as developing vocabulary.

Year 1 Language Objectives:

  • Responding to simple, known songs with gestures and join in.
  • Responding with actions to stories read aloud.
  • Using French vowel sounds through songs and games
  • Exchanging simple greetings
  • Learning about aspects of everyday life and compare to their own

Year 2 Language Objectives:

  • Responding to a variety of known and new songs with gestures to show understanding
  • Listen and demonstrate understanding single words from familiar stories read aloud.
  • Using French sounds through songs and games, develop knowledge of French phonemes and graphemes.
  • Responding to a familiar question
  • Locating countries where the language is spoken

Key Stage 2

French is taught weekly in one-hour whole class lessons. French is taught through authentic stories, songs, poems, rhymes and paintings following the objectives of the National Curriculum KS2 languages programme of study.

Each lesson builds on high-frequency grammatical structures learned in the previous lessons. Lessons provide opportunities for speaking and listening, with writing and some reading where relevant. Lessons are interactive and French is spoken as much as possible.

To shape the French lessons in Key Stage 2, we are using the MFL attainment targets designed by Sue Cave, which detail the language objectives in each year group. See below the overview of statement for KS2 or click here to see the detailed document for each year group.

Sue Cave KS2 Learning Objectives
French Progression by Year Group


  • Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding.
  • Explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of the words.
  • Engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions; respond to those of others; seek clarification and help.
  • Speak in sentences using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures. Present ideas and information to a range of audiences
  • Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.
  • Develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases.
  • Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing.
  • Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words introduced into familiar written material, including using a dictionary.
  • Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing.
  • Write words from memory and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly.
Knowledge about Language
  • Understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.


Children complete regular low-stakes quizzes to test their knowledge and develop their memory.

The children also assess their own learning, filling their self-assessment sheet at the back of their French book .The French teacher assesses children’s progress informally during the lessons as well as termly through an oracy assessment. These individual language assessments are completed each term for a sample of children across the attainment range in each year group. These longer assessments help the teacher identify gaps in learning and ensure that lessons are shaped to meet the needs of the children in the class.

Curriculum Enhancement

The whole school takes part in the calendar of French family culture such as La Galette des Rois, Bastille Day.

We believe in the importance of bringing a language to life by spending time in a country in which it is spoken and there is an optional language study visit to France in Year 5. Children spend 3 days in Normandy.

For all year groups, we also hold an annual French Day which immerses children in learning the cultures of Francophone countries.

We run a French Movie club where children discover authentic French movie and animated films, sharpening their listening skills and broadening their vocabulary.
Daily lessons are also enhanced with a wide range of high-quality French picture books and graphic novels to be found in the school library.

Native Speakers

There are a number of children for whom French is their first language in the home. These children will have an additional session of French per week with a higher whole class level of challenge. The focus is different depending where the children are on their language journey. Some of the groups are heavily phonics focused, other are centred around fluency with verb tenses and conversation.

During the weekly French lesson, native French speakers follow a parallel curriculum, focused on literacy. They work independently to develop their knowledge about language, their reading and comprehension, their writing, broaden their vocabulary and discover more about French culture.