The French Program at The Willow School is informed by Waldorf pedagogy, which approaches subjects from the whole to the parts. The classroom environment is designed for children to absorb French as they would their own native language, learning to engage in authentic interactions involving all the senses through song, stories, movement, rhythm, and colors. Students follow the seasons and natural rhythms of the year with short poems and plays. The Willow School’s Virtues Program and its mission statement inform and inspire the choice of meaningful, humanistic material for these interactive lessons.
In the early grades, children are taught spoken French. As students progress, the curriculum becomes more conceptual, oriented to specific learning goals. While increased emphasis is placed on reading and writing, the performance of skits and plays relating to particular study topics remains an important part of the lessons, helping students to internalize vocabulary and cadence. In this way, students not only begin to master the mechanics of the language; they also begin to acquire a sense of the depth and diversity of French culture.
In the Middle School, students deepen their experience of the language through more rigorous grammar study and more extensive exposure to the francophone world. Technology provides countless opportunities to enliven the experience in a visual and interactive way.
In French, there are two verbs meaning to know. Savoir means to know something “factually”. Connaître means to know a person, place, or subject intimately. At The Willow School, students both to savoir and connaître French.