Curriculum

The best of U.S. and French education.

Our curriculum provides a rigorous bilingual academic curriculum that blends the best practices of the U.S education system with the high standards of the French national curriculum, the Cycle System. 

In France, Middle School (Collège) is a four year program of study that includes two cycles: Cycle 3 and Cycle 4. The fourth year, troisième, is the equivalent of Grade 9 in the U.S. system.

Cycle 3: Transitioning from Lower School to Middle School

U.S. Grade: 6
French Equivalent: 6e (sixième)
French Immersion: Approximately 70% 

Grade 6 is viewed as a year of adaptation between Lower School and Middle School, Cycle 3 and Cycle 4. It is the culmination of Cycle 3, a gentle, age appropriate preparation for the rigors and more sophisticated expectations of Cycle 4.

Cycle 4: Exploration and Consolidation

U.S. Grades: 7 and 8
French Equivalents: 5e (cinquiéme) and 4e (quatriéme)
French Immersion: Approximately 70%

In French schools all over the world, at the end of troisième students take national examinations called the Brevet des collèges. At French American, most of our Grade 8 students continue in our French Track at our International High School and take the Brevet in Grade 9. The Brevet is the poetic culmination, and validation, of a ten year bilingual quest.

Curriculum Highlights

Third Languages

Our students continue their language journey in our middle school program, becoming fully bilingual by Grade 8. The bilingual middle school program enables students to experience different ways of thinking on a daily basis, enhancing their intellectual flexibility. It is a lifelong benefit that no other school can match.

Our Middle School students are able to add a third language class when their peers in other schools are just beginning language learning. Accelerated classes in Arabic, Italian, Mandarin, or Spanish position them for proficiency in another language, in addition to English and French. And thanks to our immersive, bilingual curriculum, language learning for our middle school students is different—they acquire additional languages with finesse.

The Middle School language courses are all taught immersion style. Using books and modern Technology, working in small groups and individually, teachers provide a learning environment that addresses all 4 skills of learning a modern language: writing, reading, listening comprehension and speaking. In addition students learn about the culture through songs, literature, tales and excursions in the city (Chinatown, taqueria etc) and through linguistic trips to countries were the language they are learning is spoken.

Literature

Our Middle School French and English literature program aims to prepare learners for the diverse demands of high school, college, and beyond. With an emphasis on 21st Century skills and literacies, students develop reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills needed to thrive both in and out of school.

In Grades 6 through 8, students explore, analyze, and create in multiple literary genres, and hone their skills in presenting arguments in both languages. Students engage in in-depth, class study of texts, as well as choose novels independently for the sheer pleasure of reading. The careful selection of texts and thematic instruction that range in time periods, cultures, genres, and styles, encourages the students to become lifelong readers and writers who understand the power of their voice and place in society.

Our middle school students write constantly. Some of the writing is informal, allowing them to experiment with language, tone, and voice. Other assignments lead students through the full writing process, from brainstorming to a final finished product. Through self-reflection, conferences with peers and with teachers, and developing the practice of revising, students learn to identify skills that they have mastered and areas that need improvement in both French and English.

Mathematics

Math is a universal language. Our students have the opportunity to discover two approaches to this universal language by taking math courses in both French and English.

Each year in the Middle School, students receive five hours of mathematics instruction per week.

Students take geometry and learn line-by-line defensible logic, as well as intensive algebra. By the end of Grade 8, our students are solving quadratics and dividing complicated algebraic polynomials.

History and Geography

The famed French histoire-géographie program, which our students learn in Grades 6-8, begins with the birth of agriculture in Mesopotamia and ends with the Enlightenment and the seeds of modernism. The approach is a global one rather than Eurocentric. Texts are chock full of documents and period artworks. Students learn to interpret primary and secondary source material themselves. Engrained in this course are elements of the French Ministry's EMC program (Education Morale et Civique), which instills the values of liberty, equality and fraternity – in accordance with France's national motto – as well as justice, mutual respect, and inclusion.

In Grade 8, students also take a U.S. history course, taught in English, where they practice the same critical thinking and evidence-based approach of the histoire-géographie in context of United States history.

Science and Technology

The Science and Technology courses taught in Grades 6-8 touch on the key principles of biology, physics, and chemistry. Our students learn to manipulate scientific apparatus, analyze data and design their own experimental protocols through hands-on learning taught in French and integrated with digital technology.

Exploration Classes

All middle school students have the option to pursue a passion, discover a new interest, or try something unfamiliar in the low-risk environment of Exploration Classes. The goal of these classes is to cultivate students’ curiosity and love of learning in a hands-on environment where self-expression and collaboration are emphasized. Classes range from Entrepreneurship to Theater to Geometry for Fun, and give students the opportunity to truly take ownership of their learning and exercise their decision-making skills. Given the chance to decide what they want to learn, students are more engaged, connected, and challenged.

Visual and Performing Arts

The curricular arts program forms an integral part of our school’s mission of promoting critical, creative thinking in an international framework. Through the arts, students expand their perspectives, engage world culture, take on challenging material, and express their own creativity. 

Each semester, students will take an arts course for 2 periods per week. Courses include Visual Art, which incorporates elements of design technology and digital media; Theater; Music; and, in Grade 8, Media, which involves creating a short video and practicing research and fact-checking skills.

We also offer a dynamic extracurricular arts program.

Physical Education

The Physical Education Department has created a varied curriculum for students in Grades 6-8, allowing each individual to achieve the following three goals:

  • To develop abilities and capacity centered in motor skills.
  • To help each student to have access to the cultural aspects of physical activities.
  • To become aware and responsible citizens and to be able to manage their sport activities for making healthy lifestyle choices in the years to come.

To reach the objectives of the physical education program, the various class levels will be taught goals specific to each activity, competencies related to engagement in the physical activity, and their application to life skills.