Passionate about Languages

Hampton Court House is a profoundly Francophile school which believes in fostering French not just as an academic subject but as a living language through which we teach other subjects. In Early and Lower Years of the school, around half of the lessons are taught in French by native French speakers, thus creating confident, fluent young speakers. Teachers readily help children who need a little translation into English here and there but, all in all, the method is astonishingly successful at creating confident, fluent young French speakers.

In the Middle Years, when teaching in the wider school switches to English, we cater both for children who have developed strong French skills with us and for children who join us with little or no French. The subject is streamed into two sets from Year 7. Our more advanced students can prepare for the DELF examinations (Diplôme d’ Études en Langue Française), which, once they reach the B2 level, offers them the opportunity to study at most French universities should they wish to do so.

French and other modern foreign languages are popular at Hampton Court House. Our aim is to equip each pupil with the linguistic skills that many will need later in their professional lives. In addition, the French department organises trips to France and a French Drama Gala every year. Through the study of literature, French films and music, we are aiming to infuse our pupils with the love of learning a foreign language as well as developing their awareness and understanding of different cultures.

“The limits of my language means the limit of my world.” Wittgenstein

Caroline GéhinBA MA PGCE
  • Head of French


Related: Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance (CNED)

Related News

Francophone week

In the first week of May HCH hosted its first ‘Francophone Week’, celebrating the language and culture of the world’s many French-speaking countries.

Each classroom bore the flag of a country where French is (one of the) official languages, plus some economic and cultural information of that... country. Posters showing the distribution of French worldwide were also on display.

The week saw a succession of lunchtime assemblies run by teachers and their classes:

  • An introduction to the French-speaking world (Year 5)
  • A description and discussion of a Swiss animated film (Year 4)
  • A retelling of “Le petit Prince” by Saint Exupery (Years 8 & 9)
  • A special assembly presenting Francophone music with the year 4s that ended with some karaoke.

The Lower Years were also able to enjoy a number of workshops organised on two consecutive day in which they explored the cuisine of some Francophone countries, painted in the style of Magritte, wrote stories, and created posters for films that we might be showing soon at HCH.

The kitchen team also participated, kindly treating us to meals from Morocco, Belgium, French Guyana, and Canada.

The week gave all the children the opportunity to discover Francophone culture and see that it reaches well beyond France! We cannot wait until next year for more adventures!

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French Theatre at HCH

Yesterday, the children from Daycare to Year 3 enjoyed a beautiful play in French, ‘Le bel oiseau’. Petit Louis builds a wooden puppet but he wants it to be real and fly, so he is going to try and try again to make it work. A very poetic and magical story.

Visit of French Author to HCH

French author Eric Chevreau came to school last week and ran two different workshops with our students in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6. This was part of the South Ken Kids Festival week.

Students looked at two of the author’s books:
– Years 3 and 4 learned about Mordicus, a mischievous apprentice sorcerer... who, in his latest adventure, travels through time.

– Years 5 and 6 discovered the series of books entitled Globe Report’air: 5 children from the 5 continents travel in a zeppelin having adventures around the globe.

The children enjoyed spending time with Eric and also had the opportunity to discover the process of getting a book published from the first idea to the printing of the book.

Eric candidly answered the children’s questions. It was a great opportunity for the children to have a French author as a guest speaker.

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Year 8 Study the Film ‘La Famille Bélier’

After the Common Entrance exams, the Year 8 students studied a French film entitled ‘La Famille Bélier’.

Paula, the principal character in the movie is the only hearing member of her family (her parents and younger brother are deaf and mute). She often has to act as a go-between for her parents... (who are farmers) and the outside world. Studying this film gave the students an insight into the challenges a deaf person faces in everyday life.

Jacob, who is one of our Sixth Form students, was born profoundly deaf. He kindly came to give a presentation to the class. Jacob explained the cause of his deafness, demonstrated sign language, and showed how his cochlear implant works. It was a fascinating talk and he even explained humour specific to the deaf community, for example, deaf people rarely sign their full name but rather use a trait of character to name themselves.

For the end of year concert, Year 8 will perform one of the main songs from the film entitled ‘Je vole’, originally sang by Michel Sardou and interpreted by Louane in the movie.

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Nursery Children Enjoy French Songs and Games

The Nursery children had an interesting and fun drama session on Friday 28 April as they learnt a new French song and discovered two new games. They enjoyed singing “Docteur, je suis malade” which can be found online. They also loved taking turns when playing “Little Co-operation” and “Mon premier verger”. These two games require an awful lot of patience and the children did so well.

French Verb Challenge 2017

The Middle and Upper Years worked very hard to prepare for this year’s French Verb Challenge.

The Challenge consisted of three rounds.

During the first round, each set in each class had to learn a list of 20 verbs (belonging to the most used French verbs list). The three students with the best scores... in each set were selected. Some students got very impressive marks – Maria (Year 5), Zoé (Year 7) and Avalon (Year 7) all scored 100%.

During the second round, the selected students competed with the other sets in their year. Once again, the best three students per year were selected. Each team consisted of one native French speaker and two non-native French speakers.

The third round took place during school assembly (Middle and Upper Years). It consisted of three rounds: a conjugation round; a translation round; then the three teams which scored the highest results in the first two rounds faced the spelling challenge.

The last three teams standing were the Year 8, Year 10 and Year 11. The Year 10 team came first at the end of the first two rounds with a score of 100%. During the spelling round, Sorrel put her gymnastic skills to good use and showed she could be the fastest putting her hand up to answer! The results were very tight, but in the end the Year 11 team was victorious. Stephanie, Anaïs and Ava won tickets to watch a French film at Ciné Lumière, London.

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French Tourism Topic in Year 8

As a part of a topic on tourism, Year 8 students have presented a monument or a piece of art using the “calligramme” technique in French.