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Email From a Former Pupil (Received November 2017)

"Dear Patrick,
I've been meaning to get in touch for a long time to tell you what an inspiring French teacher you were for me, and to thank you for such a fantastic grounding in French.
I realise this email comes slightly out of the blue, but lately I've been thinking more and more about your lessons at Craigclowan as I'm currently doing a PGCE in French! Amazingly, I actually still have some of my exercise books from school and reading through them it's amazing to see the level of French you were teaching us - my year 7 class are still struggling to remember what a pencil case is, and my year 9 class can barely conjugate 'aller'. It just makes me realise how lucky I was having you as my teacher - and I can honestly say that doing French for A-level  then at university was down to you! Oh I should also mention that I did my 3rd year abroad in Bordeaux - you are right - the best city in France!!
I would love to hear your news  - I bet school has changed beyond recognition since I was there. 
I hope you are very well, all the best."


  • To make pupils aware of the importance of communication in a foreign language
  • To allow pupils to reach as high a standard of oral and written communication in French as possible
  • To equip pupils with the conceptual and analytical tools (the metalanguage) necessary for the study of French and other modern or classical languages
  • To prepare pupils for the Common Entrance Examination to Independent Schools
  • To prepare the more able pupils for Scholarship Examinations to Independent Schools


F5 – 4 periods per week

In the Winter Term, we begin by learning basic vocabulary and phrases, often answering the question: “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” (what is it?). Definite and indefinite article are soon introduced, as well as some personal pronouns. We become familiar with the formation of the plural of nouns and the formation of questions.

In the Spring Term, the focus is on formal verb conjugations. We learn the present tense and the imperative of some regular and irregular verbs. As well as consolidating existing knowledge, new vocabulary is added.

In the Summer Term, we endeavour to build longer sentences and answering more complex questions. With the introduction of possessive adjectives, the task of putting singular sentences into plural becomes more challenging. The vocabulary increases significantly and numbers up to twenty are introduced.

F6 – 6 periods per week

In the Winter Term, we increase the vocabulary, we learn to express our age and how we feel. We use colours and nationalities as a means of introducing the agreement and place of adjectives. We also learn emphatic pronouns and how to construct a negative sentence. End of term Examination follows.

In the Spring Term, we learn to tell the time. We design our own “Arbre Généalogique” (family tree) and learn to name many drinks using partitive articles. This exercise culminates in us running our own fictitious Café. More regular and irregular verbs are added and used in gradually more complex sentences.

In the Summer Term, we consolidate our structured oral work. The vocabulary keeps increasing and we acquire new idiomatic expressions. Topics covered include zoo animals and pets, the calendar and dates celebrated in France, free time, going out and giving directions. On the grammatical front, rules about irregular adjectives, the use of dative pronouns and contractions are learnt. End of term Examination follows.

F7 – 6 periods per week

In the Winter Term, we learn to find our way around a French town whilst learning the rules about the “Bon Piéton” (good pedestrian). Grammatically, the emphasis is on conjugation of the immediate future and on the use of colloquial impersonal phrases with “on”. End of term Examination follows.

In the Spring Term, we learn to count our euros which we spend in a variety of fictitious French shops. The main focus of our work is on “real life” situations which we explore through role plays and listening activities.

In the Summer Term, we talk and write about our house, home and daily routine which is our first Common Entrance topic. On the grammatical front, we study the preposition “chez” and its combination with the emphatic pronouns. End of term Examination follows.

F8 – 6 periods per week

In the Winter Term, we complete the general level of the Common Entrance grammar syllabus with our in-depth study of the perfect tense, whilst our oral work is focused on two of the Common Entrance compulsory topics: “My house, home and daily routine” and “Free time and holiday activities”. End of term mock C.E. Examinations follow.

In the Spring Term, we complete the extended level of the Common Entrance curriculum with our study of the imperfect tense. We then embark on a systematic preparation of the third compulsory topic for the Speaking Test and go on to tackle a selection of more demanding rôle-plays. Scholarship Exams for those involved are followed by mock C.E. Exams for all.

In the Summer Term, we finish the oral preparation with an in-depth study of the fourth compulsory topic and we practise our listening skills.
A highlight of the term is the traditional French Week-End during which we “warm up” for the exam and enjoy creating and acting our own mini-plays in French.
End of term C.E. Examinations follow. (Those not sitting C.E. take the same exam as an end-of-term assessment)

Download ISEB French Syllabus


French is a very cumulative subject and it is fair to say that memorising the required vocabulay is a necessary but, sometimes, arduous task. Parents can help their children by making sure that all lessons are learnt thoroughly and in writing and by helping them to test themselves in their French Practice jotters. We really do appreciate your help in this matter.


The School has started to use the Schoolshape online language lab to set some French homework in the senior school.

Schoolshape allows children to complete listening and speaking assignments, as well as traditional written work, online in a flexible and interesting way, making full use of modern technology and we are convinced that this is a very exciting resource.

Visit website Schoolshape (General Information)
Visit Schoolshape Language Lab online


Download Schoolshape Instructions for Parents and Pupils
Download Schoolshape Audio Recording Instructions for Parents and Pupils
Download Schoolshape Audio Recording Instructions for Mac users - Parents and Pupils
Download Schoolshape Audio Recording Instructions for Windows XP users - Parents and Pupils


Visit Craigclowan Education Links. [LINK TO PAGE]
Under "FRENCH", you'll find many useful sites about France and the French language.

Merci beaucoup!

Patrick Borderie, Fabienne Thompson and Carol Dibnah

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