Sompting Abbotts School

Sompting Abbotts school teaches children from the age of 2½ to 13.

Sompting Abbotts school teaches children from the age of 2½ to 13.  French is taught to all pupils starting in the Pre-Prep Department from age 5 where the teacher concentrates on developing their spoken French through songs and games and making language learning fun.  At the end of Year 2, pupils are prepared for a French “experience” hosted by Year 5.  The hall becomes a “Petite France”, complete with passport control, Euro bank and a variety of shops where Year 2 pupils have to engage in role-play before arriving excitedly at “Café Escargot” for French snacks prepared by Year 5 chefs.

In the Main School, language lessons are started by a pupil asking questions in French, awarding “bons points” as appropriate.  The winner, at the end of the lesson, receives a small reward. Over a term, pupils record these points on an outline of the Eiffel Tower and those with 100 or more points receive a certificate and prize in assembly.  In the top class, pupils are taught how to teacher French to younger pupils and are welcomed back to continue teaching French lessons after they have left.

In Year 5 pupils undertake a term’s French project where they are encouraged to work independently on French historical characters, geography and culture which gives a sound preparation for more advanced language studies later.  The top class study French history from the Roman Era to post WWII in French.  In the last two years, seniors prepare an illustrated autobiography in French, topics from which are recorded regularly in the language lab.

The whole school participate in various competitions.  One was based on Alan Sugar’s “Apprentice” series where pupils designed and made French cocktails.  Another is an annual French poetry competition where the finalists are chosen by their peer group using a rigorous mark scheme.  The seniors in Years 7 and 8 participate in the popular Lancing College “Concours d’art oratoire” and see French plays put on by a touring company.  Years 3 to 6 learn and perform French plays by heart.

Teachers work hard with the Special Needs department to make French accessible and fun to all pupils.  They are encouraged to suggest their own ways of learning vocabulary and to use coloured cards to request help in class.   A drop-in workshop during break times is available for pupils who wish to have extra help in French.  Outside the classroom, casual greetings are exchanged in French and Year 4 ask for their lunch in French.  Once a week the grace is said in French!  

As well as Classics and skiing trips abroad, the seniors visit Normandy for a week after their scholarship and C.E. exams.  This helps consolidate French learnt in the classroom through various visits including the pretty town of Bayeux on market day.  By visiting Commonwealth War cemeteries and the museum at Arromanches, pupils start to appreciate the enormity of the sacrifices made during the D-Day landings.  Personal challenges are met by an exciting session on a High Ropes’ course near Caen and the amazing flumes in the pool at Aqualud, near Boulogne.

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Siriol Seabrook

Head of French

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