French is spoken by over 300 million people as a native or second language and is also the official language in 29 countries.
The ability to communicate in French is not only an essential skill for travel, but it also competes strongly with English as a main language of business and politics. French, along with English, is the official language used by the United Nations, UNESCO, NATO, International Courts and a large number of other international organisations. French is the language of the three cities where the EU institutions are headquartered: Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg. A proficiency in French will certainly appeal to the increasing number of French native speakers working in London’s finance sector and it is a must for anyone planning on a career in an international organisation.
At A Level we follow the AQA course which is designed to build on the vocabulary and grammatical skills you have acquired during your (I)GCSE course. Therefore some topics will feel familiar, however, there is a particular emphasis on cultural knowledge; therefore, watching French films, reading articles and visiting France will be important and useful ways of you developing an understanding of the culture which underpins and influences the language. Aside from studying a range of topics, you will also undertake close study of a film and a novel.
The French Department offers a study trip each year for Sixth Form students studying French. This involves students staying in pairs with French host families, attending lessons each morning in a language school followed by visits and excursions each afternoon. One advantage of this type of trip is the opportunity to live with a French family and experience evenings meals both with the family and/or in local restaurants. The trip usually takes places during the Easter holidays so that students can fully benefit from the language lessons which target the demands of the A Level oral exams which take place in May. We alternate destinations: one year the trip heads to the south-east coastal city of Nice and visits include time spend not just in Nice but other cities along the Côte d’Azur such as Antibes, Cannes and Monaco. The year after, the trip visits the south-west of France and is based in Bordeaux. Here we explore the wine industry, scale Europe’s largest sand dune (La Dune du Pyla) and undertake other cultural visits as well as a city tour by Segway.