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... and in France

THE 50-minute French class in a French primary begins with a general presentation of the subject of the lesson, writes Barbara Casassus from Paris.

Then comes analysis of a sentence, presented either by the teacher or a pupil. This takes the form of a dialogue and moves on to structural exercises, using the same sentence structure but with different vocabulary.

The last part of the lesson is devoted to written exercises, applying what has been taught.

For the first three years in primary, oral exercises occupy about two-thirds of the class and reading and writing exercises, one third.

For the final three years, the proportion is usually reversed. More stress is now given to writing than in the past. Instead of completing a sentence with a missing word, for example, pupils are asked to copy a sentence and correct any errors.

A second-year pupil who is seven or eight years old should be able to describe an image simply in a couple of sentences.

This year there has been an increase in the literary content of primary French classes, where conjugation and other grammatical rules are taught through texts rather than by rote. Until now, fiction has been reserved for the senior classes.

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