The study of a modern foreign language can be an exciting and stimulating activity at any age, but particularly so for the young.
We see proficiency in foreign languages as a crucial part of a child’s general education. The modern world is one of multiculturalism, disappearing borders and merging nationalities.
Even if the argument that foreign languages may, one day, be good for business, there are many reasons to celebrate our enthusiasm for French.
The ability to speak a foreign language shows an ability to look beyond the physical and mental boundaries we are brought up with. At its best, it shows a desire to communicate with other people, to understand their history and to embrace their culture. The ability to speak to a foreign person – business partner or otherwise – in his own language, demonstrates a willingness to engage with him or her on a level far more profound than can be achieved with English alone.
To paraphrase Nelson Mandela’s remark:
If you speak to a foreigner in English, you speak to his head; if you speak to him in his own language, you speak to his heart. We aim to harness young children’s natural curiosity, spontaneity and desire to communicate. By means of lively but structured teaching, we seek to:
- Help them to acquire a wide range of useful vocabulary and develop their ability to use it for practical communication in the foreign language.
- Give them a clear understanding of the grammar, so that they can establish a sound base for further study of the language as an academic discipline involving reading and writing as well.
- Give them insights into the culture of the country or countries where the language is spoken, thereby encouraging positive and tolerant attitudes towards habits and lifestyles.
At Mowden Hall School, we are fully committed to the study of French: pupils start learning French at the age of three (Nursery) and our Year 7 pupils spend one term in South-West France, near Toulouse, where they learn not only the French language but also the culture and civilisation of France.