AATF Exemplary French Program with Honors

Hopkins School, New Haven, CT
AATF Member: Sarah Du Plessis

Hopkins School has had a long history of teaching French since its inception in 1660. Over those many years, French has been steady and favored by many. All French teachers at Hopkins are members of the AATF (with one also serving as a board member of the Connecticut AATF Chapter) and regularly attend local, state or national meetings. All students at Hopkins are expected to take a minimum of three years in one language at the high school level; however, many students take no less than 4, with many continuing to 5 or 6 if they began with French at the 7th grade level. As for enrollment, there are 29 junior school (7th & 8th graders) and a total of 104 students taking French at the high school level (from French 1-7 Honors). A total of 133 students take French out of a school enrollment of 712. Our program is rigorous and meets the students’ abilities, the sequence of courses is as follows: 7th (French A) & 8th (French B) grade--both A & B combined comprise a French 1 level course; French 1 (9th grade); French 2 or 2 Accelerated; French 3 or French 3 Accelerated; French 4 Literature and Cinema or French 4 Language and Civilization; French 5 Culture and Conversation or French 5 French Language & Culture AP. We also offer French 6 Honors and French 7 Honors (subject matter changes from year to year based on need and curriculum).

All courses are taught primarily (90% or more) in French, and adhere to standards-based learning.  All levels also include various novels, plays, readers, bandes dessinées, and films. Besides the use of current newspapers, magazines, and novels, higher levels also employ Une Fois Pour Toutes.

Hopkins currently employs 5 French teachers, 3 full-time (all hold a Ph.D.) and 2 part-time. On a daily basis, students work in a variety of learning activities such as debates, group discussion, peer review editing, lab activities, scavenger hunts, museum exploration exercises, review games, etc. Speaking, writing, listening, and reading are incorporated into every class and culture is as equally valued as speaking and grammar skills. Lastly, every year, Hopkins administers the Grand Concours to all of our French students, levels 01-5.

We are very lucky at Hopkins to not only have wonderful teachers and students but wonderful parents as well! They are excited by our rigorous and creative classes, our class trips (to see speakers around Yale, to attend French plays at the Shubert or Yale), and our field trips to Quebec and Paris. Occasionally, we have parents who are French natives. They have visited classes on several occasions to talk about France, their history, or their company. Students and teachers alike enjoy these visits as it is a great opportunity to share and collaborate.

Future goals to expand the program:

  1. Provide more planning time for French teachers to discuss scope and sequence.
  2. Plan and implement one Francophone trip per school year: alternate Quebec and France, or other French-speaking regions
  3. Plan and implement community service opportunities abroad (Spring Break or summer)
  4. Create and distribute information about our French program to feeder schools
  5. Work closely with College Counseling and Alumni Office to monitor students’ continuation in learning French beyond Hopkins
  6. Commit all French teachers to attend a minimum of 3 AATF events a year and one regional/national event
  7. Promote our program via articles in the yearbook, school newspaper and school e-bulletin pertaining to French activities, trips and classroom learning.
  8. Schedule an annual “retreat” for all French teachers to discuss the current and future progress of the department

 Specific Teacher Goals:

  1. All French teachers commit to attending no less than three AATF events, and one regional/national event per year
  2. At least every other year, all French teachers commit to attending a French program (such as Middlebury, Oxbridge, etc.) to improve their teaching, speaking and writing skills and to collaborate with other French teachers. Two of our teachers work every summer in Paris and should continue to do so.
  3. Attend informational sessions at Hopkins and during presentations at feeder schools to promote French language
  4. Schedule bi-monthly or more informal meetings to discuss ideas (how to increase French enrollment, plan for speakers, plan for field trips, trips abroad, French week, French holidays, etc.)
  5. Assign one teacher to be the liaison between college counseling and the alumni office to monitor the continuation of French language learning beyond Hopkins School

Special Program Features (we offer and have offered):

  • 2014 Trip to Quebec for 50 students in 7th & 8th grade
  • 2015 March, Trip to Paris France with 15 students, 8th-12th grades
  • 2011-2015, Celebration of French week—the entire school participates, the French club makes delicious treats, the cafeteria makes only French food, speakers come, French music is played at assemblies, French sayings are written on school sidewalks, French works of art are hung in our art gallery, crepe making for entire school, etc.
  • 2011-2015 (any prior to these years as well) Administration of the Grand Concours
  • Fashion Show (8th graders)
  • Scavenger Hunts (French 1, 2—when learning directions)
  • 2014, 5 students attended Oxbridge Academic programs (4 in Paris, 1 Montpellier)
  • 2013, 2 students study in France with SYA (Student Year Abroad)
  • Poetry Recitations and Participation in COLT
  • Dressing as famous poets, writers, bandes dessinés characters for Halloween
  • Field trips to Shubert Theatre, NYC, and New Haven to view French art or partake in French food
  • Hosts an annual AATF workshop on our campus—this year 35 members attended a technology workshop for French


 For full information on applying for Exemplary Program status, click here.  

Created: July 20, 2015
Last Update: July 20, 2015