There are four components to the French curriculum
- Speech production
- Listening comprehension
- Reading skills
- Writing skills
The curriculum is built upon the principle that speech production and listening comprehension are the priorities of language learning. Accordingly, our French classes provide as many opportunities for speech as possible through the use of lessons, which depend upon call-and-response cues that build upon each other throughout the course of the year. The call-and-response cues are initially very simple and incorporate movement, allowing for the creation of class routines that engage the students in repetitive practice in a way that is integrated with their experience of being in the classroom and reduces the tedium usually associated with repetition. Early on in the first trimester, the students are able to engage interactively in activities such as classroom games and outdoor walks in which they are tasked with employing the language they have been hearing, repeating, and moving with in class. As the year progresses, the call-and-response cues incrementally advance in terms of syntactic difficulty.
Having accounted for speech production and listening comprehension as the foundation upon which the language is studied, the curriculum then seeks to extend the students’ relationships with the words they become accustomed to hearing and saying by gradually acclimating them to textual representation. In other words, once the students become oriented within the world of words as sounds, they are ready to develop their reading skills. Again, this is only initiated after a period of basic internalization with respect to verbal expression and aural comprehension. The students begin by working with non-narrative text (e.g., a student is presented with an illustration of a zoo and is asked to read the signs that indicate which animals are where). By the end of the year, the students are at minimum able to read basic narratives. The reading component makes use of various media, including children’s books, poetry, storefront signs, weather reports, etc.
The goal of the writing skills component varies widely per grade, ranging from no writing at all (kindergarten), itemization and basic sentences (1st-2nd grades), basic sentences and paragraphs (3rd-4th grades), and simple journaling (5th grade).