Current issues

Modern Language Learning

France is remodelling its system of teaching modern languages, which are becoming increasingly vital for pupils growing up in a multilingual world and for success in their future careers. From September 2016, all pupils will learn at least two languages while they are in school, starting at the primary level and continuing through the end of secondary.

Each student will learn to communicate in at least two modern languages by the end of their obligatory schooling. Language learning plays a fundamental role in the building of citizenship, in the enrichment of the person and opening possibilities in the world. Learning a modern language also promotes the employability of young people in France and abroad.

How are Modern Languages Taught?

Pupils are exposed to a new modern language as early as Year 1 in Primary School, around age 6. A second language is introduced in Lower Secondary School, around age 11 or 12. By starting language learning earlier, students have longer time to cultivate their knowledge and perfect their skills around teachers.

Teachers

Teachers receive improved training which combines new teaching programmes and requires teachers to reach the certification level of B2 of the CEFR ("The capacity to achieve most goals and express oneself in a range of topics"). More online resources have also been made available to teachers, which gives them access to multinational resources from other countries as well as shared resources and platforms to compare between colleagues.

Pupils

In order for students to best learn a new modern language, many changes to the curriculum and teaching methods have been applied. Classes are organised by ability of students, in modular timetables, which allows for periods of more intensive learning. Subjects are also taught in the langauge students are learning. There is a choice between foreign and regional languages in primary school and over thirty foreign languages at secondary school. There are over 60 languages assessed within the general and technological baccalaureate, which allows students the opportunity to truly discover a new language without the fear they will have no use for it after schooling. Offering the baccalaureate in so many languages gives French students more professional opportunities as well. A new literary pathway is also being offered, to give students the chance to become proficient in foreign literature and gain an international perspective. There is also an option to learn a third modern language should students choose not to take a literary course. More and more technology is used in teaching modern languages, opening up easily accessible resources in the language being taught.

International Mobility

As students spend more time abroad, partnerships with other foreign schools to exchange language learning has become a valuable resource.  The aim is for all secondary schools to be partnered with schools in other countries during the 2017 school year, as well as for 50% of primary schools to be involved internationally in educational and cultural projects. Skills and other benefits students acquire during their time abroad will be officially recognised as well.

International learning experiences are also being recognised within the vocational baccalaureate programme, which nearly 4,000 candidates have since taken 2014. Those who pass qualify for the EuroMobipro certificate in the 2017 exam session.

Diversity of Linguistic Routes

International Sections (IS)

These bilateral cooperative programmes partner with the educational authorities in 19 countries, offering pupils both French and foreign not only the chance to learn another language, but to appreciate another country's culture and teaching methods within the French education system. Currently, there are 463 sections in 273 schools in France and French schools abroad, ranging from first year of primary to final year of secondary in German, British and American English, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (separate Portuguese and Brazilian sections), Russian, and Swedish. Students who attend IS schools take special versions of the end-of-school diploma and the baccalaureate exam - the international option of the diplôme national du brevet and the international option of the baccalaureate (OIB).

European Sections

Pupils age 16 and older are taught a general, technological, or vocational subject in a foreign language. The languages offered are: German, English, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and an Oriental Language Section, which offers Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

Bi-national Sections

This programme awards two end-of-secondary diplomas at once: the French baccalauréat and the choice between the German Abitur-Abibac, the Spanish bachillerato, or the Italian esame di Stato-Esabac. Pupils follow a very specific course which has been jointly developed with the partner country whose language is being taught; this joint qualification gives access to higher education in both countries.

For more information about teaching modern languages, click here.

For more information about teaching modern languages en français, click here.

What is éduscol?

Eduscol, the website of the Directorate-general for Schools of the French Ministry for National Education, is aimed at education professionals and, primarily, teachers. Its purpose is to provide them with information by presenting official texts and offering resources to support their implementation on the ground.

Mis à jour le 10 mai 2017
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