In early 2018 I approached the Head of French to ask if we could look at rewriting some research work carried out by Year 6 as a FOSIL inquiry for the following academic year. This was based on observation of Year 6 classes and the work set as homework in the previous year. I believe that the level of engagement of the pupils could be increased if they took a more active part in what they were doing – provided the French teachers accepted that this would mean pupils were not finding exactly the same answers to exactly the same questions as they had previously done. This can be a barrier to overcome with some teaching colleagues, although in this case it was not an issue.
Ideas for an inquiry into ‘Why study French?’, and a proposal for the inquiry, were sent to the teacher with whom I was developing the unit in Spring 2018. We then met to discuss the inquiry which would encompass the topics of:
French regions and why you might want to go there;
Jobs that might require you to speak French, and why;
Francophone countries around the world, where they are and why they would be worth visiting.
As the plan was to begin the inquiry after the October holiday, discussions began properly again at the end of September 2018. Most of the material produced for this inquiry was adapted from existing documents used with Year 6 previously (for a History topic). However, for this inquiry we decided that the text would be in both English and French to widen pupils’ awareness of language and FOSIL terminology.
Resources associated with this inquiry can be found here. Or by searching for “Why Learn French” in the Title search on our Resources page.
Although I was only involved in resource production for this inquiry, not design or delivery (for which I was grateful, because languages are very much my weak point whereas Lucy, among her many other talents, is our language specialist), I found this a really interesting inquiry for several reasons.
It ran over a fairly long period (5 weeks) and went through several investigative phases – essentially looping back through portions of the cycle several times, using slightly different resources each time.
All resources were in dual language.
It replaced a pre-existing research exercise, so was a good opportunity to showcase the impact of the inquiry process.
It encouraged the use of human resources as well as books and websites, getting some of our youngest students to talk to some of our oldest about their motivation for studying French.
The ‘cut and paste‘ resources that I have uploaded were not used for this inquiry in the end, but I have shared them anyway because I think they are a good example of helping students to rank their conclusions in order of importance.
Through assisting with many of the lessons that made up this inquiry, I was able to adapt or create resources as the need arose, as well as being able to explain to the teachers and pupils how best to move the inquiry on. The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive as pupils were thoroughly engaged in their work and I believe managed to learn as much about France as they would have done previously, while also gaining an understanding of the reasons for language learning. The main lesson learned, as with many first time inquiries for teachers, is that things do take that bit longer to achieve and that timings many need rethinking next time around. This is especially so when dealing with a class of 10/11 year olds!