At Barrow Hills, we acknowledge that the learning of French and Latin are a social and cultural experience as well as academic subjects.

We believe learning French leads children to a better understanding of the culture of one of our nearest neighbours and a people whose history has been inextricably linked to our own over the centuries. It allows children to develop communication and literacy skills that help them learn other languages. It gives them an awareness of the multi-lingual and multi-cultural world.

In the earliest years, children love to learn their French from native speakers through games, puppets, stories, role-play and songs. Later these things are combined with grammar and writing as the children approach Common Entrance.

Year 5 and Year 6 go to France to immerse themselves in the culture and the language. Great fun is had visiting a boulangerie, a sweet factory and a sea-life centre, in order to use their French. Year 7 spend an exciting and stimulating week in Belgium in the summer term. The trip includes a visit to Bruges and First World War sites.

At Barrow Hills, we know the study of Latin provides valuable support for learning Romance languages and English and, given the widespread use of Latin in scientific nomenclature, can often cast useful light on issues that arise in other subjects. We also know that Latin encourages problem solving, logic and discipline. It develops the practice of close reading and language analysis, focuses the mind and allows an understanding of classical literature and civilisations but it also frees the imagination and lets our children fly.

Latin is introduced in Year 5 and lessons are based on the excellent and entertaining ‘Minimus’ texts by Barbara Bell. These popular texts enable children to acquire a Latin vocabulary and to gain an accelerated understanding of verb conjugation and noun declension and other key grammatical concepts. The richness of Roman mythology is also used to provide an attractive narrative source from which to enhance interest in the language.

Added to the more formal learning of Latin, this provides children with a pool of knowledge about Latin that will enable them to recognise elements that underpin and enhance studies throughout the rest of the school curriculum, particularly in English, French and history. Latin also contains a distinct need for analytical skills which are developed in Years 7 and 8 as children prepare for Common Entrance. These prove to be useful and relevant as they progress to higher levels in other subjects in their senior schools.

Madame Early
Head of Modern Foreign Languages

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