Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. An education in languages education will foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. Pupils will be able to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond, both in speech and in writing, to speakers of another language. A languages education also enables pupils to communicate for practical purposes, discover new ways of thinking and read literature in the original language. Learning languages equips pupils to study and work in other countries.
The national curriculum for Languages aims for all pupils to:
- Understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources
- Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation
- Write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt
- Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied
At Woodbridge Primary
Teaching languages is based on the KS2 Framework Framework for Languages (2005). This provides objectives and activities to achieve progression in the following four different strands of learning: Oracy, Literacy, Intercultural Understanding and Knowledge About the Language.
The principal language taught is French but children are encouraged to explore comparisons with other languages they know from their own family background or foreign holidays. In Year 3, where the geography topic is Spain, the children are introduced to basic Spanish for a term.
We aim to fulfil the requirement of the National Curriculum in the following ways:
Developing Oracy Skills
Children are encouraged to listen and imitate the sounds of words and phrases. They practise as a class and as individuals and as they get more proficient, they make their own phrases and sentences leading to surveys, role plays and drama in the target language. The teaching of the alphabet and phonics allows the children to assimilate rules of pronunciation which they can then use to correctly pronounce written words they’ve not met before.
Developing Literacy Skills
Again, children start with being able to recognise words and common phrases and are encouraged to practice writing them in various ways. They can then start to make up their own sentences and paragraphs and they learn to use dictionaries which increases their independence. Children are also taught the different steps necessary to decipher the meaning of unseen texts using different decoding skills. Every opportunity is taken to reinforce the teaching of English literacy at all levels – text, sentence and word.
Developing Intercultural Understanding
Although French is the principal language taught, we take advantage of the European Day of Languages in September to give the children a chance to explore the culture of other European countries.
WPS has set up a partnership with a junior school in Colombes, a suburb in the north-west of Paris and, as this develops, it is hoped that the children will correspond with each other and teach each other about their lives and where they live.
Part of the language timetable is dedicated to teaching about significant historical events such as the French Revolution and those that have more obvious links with British history i.e.1066, World War II, the creation of the European community.
We also use the world wide web to explore authentic texts, films and other websites on many different topics.
Knowledge About the Language
Teaching about the language runs through all the other strands and includes the understanding of elements which do not figure in the teaching of English such as gender, accents, the position of adjectives etc. It also provides opportunities to reinforce the children’s understanding of English grammar.
Teaching Language in KS1
Research has shown that children assimilate other languages much more quickly, the younger they are and a driving principle behind the teaching at WPS is to build up confidence, enjoyment and an interest in other languages and cultures from an early age so that the leaning of a language is seen as a “normal” part of life.
Therefore, with these two elements in mind and where the timetable allows, French is taught in both Year 1 and Year 2 through songs, rhymes, and well-known stories.
How We Encourage the 7Cs through language teaching:
Communication and Consideration
Learning a language is all about being able to communicate but strong emphasis is also placed on cultural understanding and on respect for the peoples who speak that language
The children learn confidence by feeling safe to try out new words and sentences and by learning how to break down a big task into small manageable units. In the long term, they build up confidence about travelling abroad and being able to communicate with people of other countries.
Creativity and Craftsmanship
The children show innate creativity every time they think up a word association or an action that helps them to remember new language. They also children enjoy crafting their own sentences and creating role plays.
An important part of the commitment to language learning is to strive for accuracy in the spelling and grammar rules when writing and in pronunciation when speaking.
Children are given opportunities to investigate new words in their dictionaries and to make comparisons between English, French and any other language they’ve come across. They also love to find out about how people live in other French-speaking countries.