Title … à la française
Publisher Authentik Language Learning Resources Ltd
ISBN 978-1-905275-25-0
Reviewer Duncan Byrne

Since the decision to make modern languages optional in KS4 came into effect in 2004, publishers have had to look for new markets, and Authentik have scored a real hit when it comes to ‘… à la française’, a photocopiable resource featuring 30 cross-curricular lessons for KS2. This is an extremely impressive resource that has been carefully and imaginatively planned.
The aim of ‘… à la française’ is a bold one: namely, to help teachers in the aim of “embedding the learning of French in the wider primary curriculum”. It starts from the premises that languages are best learned by using that language as part of a thinking process, and that there needs to be focus on content as well as on skills. Multimedia lessons are provided in Mathematics, Art, Music, Geography, Science, History and PE, and range from consolidation of basic numeracy and reading maps to work on child labour in 19th century France and magnetism. Inspection of the materials shows immediately the thought that has gone into the lesson plans. A Music lesson on orchestral instruments presents key vocabulary with a powerpoint presentation before positioning the instruments in orchestral formation and then practises the grammar point je joue du / de la /des before moving onto the expression of opinions (J’adore / j’aime aussi / je déteste / je voudrais jouer) in line with the requirements of the KS2 framework. The variety of resources is extensive. In addition to attractive copymasters for teacher and pupil, a CD-ROM is provided with powerpoint presentations and audio files that help the teacher in delivering a multimedia lesson.
One of the features of cross-curricular teaching is that team teaching may be involved, or else a non-specialist may be delivering the language element. Some are vehemently against this; I rather like the fact that this reinforces the idea that foreign languages are not just spoken by linguists but rather by educated people of whatever specialism. Even if mistakes are made in the delivery of French, should we not be putting the emphasis on communication rather than accuracy at this early stage of language development? Support is given to teachers for whom French may not be a specialism by the provision of detailed target language instructions for pupils. In addition, there is a clear list of essential vocabulary to accompany each task: a vital cog in ensuring that the teacher feels confident in the material that he or she is to deliver.
Cross-curricular embedding of language learning into the broader curriculum requires innovative leadership and considerable groundwork, but the ‘… à la française’ photocopiable resource pack can help bring a vision to reality by providing scenarios that have been well thought-through and lovingly assembled. I cannot recommend it highly enough to you.