Key Stage 3 Workshop – French is not just France

This two-part workshop (either in two one-hour sessions or one two-hour session) is aimed at Year 8 students and focuses on the fact that French is a national language of many African countries today. It explores where and why that is, as well as some of the questions that this poses. It is organised around discussions around a large map of Africa, followed by a shadow puppet performance prepared by the students. French is used as much as possible as a supplement, drawing on students’ prior knowledge and reading strategies (including cognates, context and L1/general knowledge), to encourage students to manipulate it in a supportive and encouraging environment.

This workshop will be of interest to teachers of French, History, Drama and PSHE, and aspects of the discussions (including the amount of French used) can be tailored to the group. It has been delivered to groups with no prior knowledge of French as well as groups with two years of language study. Year 8s were chosen as a crucial year to work with, building on the early enthusiasm of Year 7s and attempting to keep them engaged as lessons generally move away from games and songs and towards exam preparation. It is an opportunity for students to see French as a language used in a variety of situations (both in terms of where it is used in the world and in terms of them using it creatively) and to start thinking critically about the relationships between language, history and identity.


  • To familiarise students with the place of the French language in the world
  • To develop an awareness of the issues surrounding the French language in Africa, including aspects of colonisation and empire
  • To develop students’ reflective use of reading strategies
  • To increase confidence in using French to voice opinions
  • To develop students’ understanding of French pronunciation


  • Students will be able to name (in French) African countries which have kept French as a national language
  • Students will be able to explain why the French language is a national language in some African countries
  • Students will be able to read short texts (or sentences) in French and find the matching translation in English
  • Students will be able to formulate simple sentences to give an opinion about keeping French as a national language
  • Students will be able to perform their opinion through a short shadow puppet performance

part 1 2

Part 2 2

Camille Jacob, University of Portsmouth

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