French is studied by all pupils at Key Stage 3 in Orchard Mead Academy.

French (or other optional languages) are a GCSE option during Years 10 and 11, with an increasing number of students undertaking a language at GCSE level as part of the Ebacc suite of GCSEs.



KS3 Overview

Autumn 1Autumn 2Spring 1Spring 2Summer 1Summer 2
Year 7


Introduction to French – phonicsIntroduction to French – phonics and opinionsMyself and my familyMy personality and petsSchool Life – subjects and teachersSchool life – verbs and activities
Year 8Food – mealsFood – healthy choicesCelebrationsCelebrationsSports and HobbiesSports and Hobbies
Year 9HolidaysHolidaysMedia and TechnologyMedia and TechnologyMy home and my areaMy home and my area

Year 7 – Units 1,2 and 3.

Unit 1

Students learn the basic phonics sounds of French and are taught to recognise, pronounce and spell them as they appear in common words. This is achieved through drilling, call and response, student led vocal games, dictations, and supported by spelling and dictation tests weekly, revise for homework by every student and differentiated according to a personalised spelling test score target.   Teachers model classroom language and reinforce language acquisition by repetition and reward, so that students quickly are able to hold a two way conversation about simple classroom requests.

Unit 2 

Students draw upon the opinions taught in Unit 1 to begin to describe their own personal circumstances, information that is key to any newcomer to a foreign land. They are taught how to discuss themselves, their appearance, their habits, their pets, as well as those of family and friends. We refer back to primary learning of numbers and reinforce and develop this understanding in relation to age, dates and number of people. The grammar strand features strongly as students get to know the key verbs and conjugations that will support them throughout their language career, and the foundations pf comprehension strategies begin to be laid in the form of translation, transformation and talk.

Unit 3

Building on the vocabulary of family and relationships, students learn how to discuss their opinions of school subjects and teachers, and apply similar structures to discussing people not in their immediate family. We draw upon the grammar of verbs from Unit 2 to illustrate how to talk about activities in school and understanding simple time references (both numerically and descriptively).. Constant interleaving of the Killer 20 means that by the end of year 7, students should all be able to actively give an complex opinion about a school subject, a family member, a pet or a teacher without support, as well as describing themselves in simple terms, with good inflection, fluency and confident accent.  Passively they will be able to understand people talking or writing about their own opinions on the same topics.


Year 8 – Units 4-6

Unit 4: Food

Linking back to celebratory food in the later stages, this unit takes students on a journey of culinary discovery.  We teach the key meals and foods in French, verbs in two tenses and link back to the conditional introduced in Unit 3 for ordering food in a restaurant (I would like).  Students are also introduced to modal verbs when talking about healthy eating and healthy living and again encounter the exam structures of roleplay, photocard and conversations, thus applying their knowledge of the Killer 20 throughout.  Students may be asked to discuss what they eat during a special celebration such as Christmas or birthdays, or write a letter of complaint to a bad restaurant.   We also try to allow students to physically taste some of the French foods they have been learning about, and give their opinions about them. The KS3 trip (previously run in December, now slated for May) to the Opal Coast, will reinforce this as they will sample French foods, visit a bakery and chocolate factory and be able to try out their café vocabulary.

Unit 5: Celebrations!

Narration techniques such as time markers and key verbs are introduced alongside interleaving of fancy opinions and the killer 20.  Students also encounter the description of a photocard for the first time in looking ahead to the GCSE.  ‘Er’ verbs from units 2 and 3 are referenced in a new tense.  This constitutes the first half of the autumn term.   Students are then taught about different celebrations in francophone countries, thus opening their eyes to the cultural similarities and differences that are so key to understanding  languages, and are encouraged to apply and add to their past tense knowledge by discussing celebrations in which they themselves have participated. Again the photocard is referenced as well as the roleplay, and students will be expected to demonstrate all 4 skills via the medium of active and passive translation, creative writing , dictations and comprehension tasks.

Unit 6: Sports and Hobbies

Students learn about free time activities, sports and hobbies, introducing irregular verbs in the present and past tense as well as revisiting the –er verbs seen in Units 2,3 and 4.  Students can use their fancy opinions and knowledge of grammar to discuss in some depth and complexity what they do in their spare time and why, with links to healthy living and recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.   By the end of year 8 students should be able to assimilate with confidence all the topics learned so far, discussing home life school and free time in two and in some cases three time frames.  End of unit and end of year tests will reflect this with interleaved sections focusing on prior knowledge.


Year 9

Unit 7: Holidays and High Frequency Vocabulary

This unit links directly to GCSE requirement but is mostly passive understanding of complex vocabulary.  We teach the past tense here, the thirds strand in being able to competently tackle a GCSE written or spoken question. We again rely heavily on the Killer 20 to show students how to give their own opinions without needing lots of active vocabulary, but the important factors here are strategies to boost passive understanding. Therefore half the unit is devoted to recognising and using high frequency language – adverbs, time markers, numbers and place.

Unit 8: Media

The cognitive demands of this unit in relation to vocabulary are minimal as so much of the required vocab is cognate or near cognate.  Therefore we use this topic to heavily practise giving and understanding opinions, speaking strategies and written passages in order to build confidence.  Students learn how to discuss various media – film/tv/books/music / social media, as well as how to make arrangements and tackle the roleplay element of the speaking exam.  Interleaved throughout, as in all units, is translation linking to grammatical competency and linguistic understanding.

Unit 9 – My House and Area

Year 9 is a hinge year, with the ability to cater to students in the last year of KS3 looking to pursue a GCSE in French, or students who are taking a three year GCSE and therefore in the first year of their GCSE studies.  This unit links directly to theme 2 of the GCSE course but also builds on many of the skills gained in y7 and 8, for example manipulation of past tense, regular and irregular key verbs and fancy opinions.  We add to the Killer 20 and use these building blocks to discuss house, activities within the house, the town and area and activities within town.  The skill of narration is heavily introduced here, discussing what you do/did on a visit to town or in your home.  Students are exposed to a wide variety of passive resources which allow them to practise their reading and listening skills, and we interleave vocabulary from prior topics eg restaurant food.


Autumn 1


Autumn 2Spring 1


Spring 2


Summer 1


Summer 2


Year 10


School and Future Plans – future tense and universityThe world of workThe environmentThe environmentCulture and Social IssuesCulture and Social Issues
Year 11High Frequency WordsTranslation and Speaking Exam prepRevision and Exam prepRevision and Exam Prep

Unit 10 – School and Future Plans

In this unit we build on and refer back to unit 3, whilst introducing more complex future tenses to allow students to confidently manipulate three time frames with ease. Students learn about school in francophone countries and use previous learning to be able to compare and contrast the two systems.  The Killer 20 is once again a key building block for this knowledge as are the key verbs in three time frames which we continually recuse and recycle.

Unit 11 – The Environment

This is a passive-heavy topic in which students will practise exam style questions and reading / listening comprehension skills as well as learning how to adapt what they already know how to say to answer a question about an unknown topic.  We look at the global issues of pollution and recycling and again use previously learning to structure written and spoken responses to exam style stimuli.   As students will have covered the topics in other lessons e.g. geography / science, there is a nice cross curricular element to this unit.

Unit 12 – Social Issues

This is a another passive  topic in which students will build on skills from unit 10 and hone their exam, reading / listening comprehension skills as well as learning how to adapt what they already know how to say to answer a question about an unknown topic.  We look at the global issues of pollution and recycling and again use previously learning to structure written and spoken responses to exam style stimuli.   As students will have covered the topics in other lessons eg geography / science, there is a nice cross curricular element to this unit.  Interleaving of high frequency vocab and all prior learning features as well.

Unit 13 – speaking

Students use this term to practise their expert responses to the general conversation in the speaking exam.  Using everything they have learned so far, from verbs to the subjunctive, they are able to craft responses that will score highly in the final exam as well as revising passive vocabulary along the way.   Student feedback has convinced us that preparing responses to all possible questions at this point in the curriculum, rather than at the end of each topic, is a more effective way of summarising and utilising all their knowledge from the last 12 units.

Unit 14 – revision

We revise all the topics and continue to practise exam skills.

For information about enrichment clubs  and revision clubs please visit our clubs page here. 



Additional information

We also offer GCSEs in many home languages including but not limited to Portuguese, Panjabi, Gujarati and Italian.  If you have a English as additional language or of you are fluent in more than one language, come and speak to us about sitting it as an extra GCSE in Year 11.  We are happy to offer support and guidance in this and many of our past students have been very successful in achieving an extra qualification via this method.

Your teachers are here to support you and we are always happy to talk about opportunities or challenges.  The languages department is a vibrant and inclusive place which values everyone’s contribution, so come and talk to us if you have any ideas or concerns,

Subject Policies/Plans

Subject Leader/s

Mrs R. McClusky-Lynch

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