At Greenmount Primary School we teach French to all our KS2 children (year 3, 4, 5 and 6) as part of our school curriculum. We believe that a Modern Foreign Language prepares pupils to participate in a rapidly changing world in which work and other activities are often carried out in languages other than English. There are multiple benefits and reasons for primary children learning a new language. Firstly, we believe that many children enjoy learning to speak another language. Secondly, we also believe that the earlier a child is exposed to a foreign language, the faster the language in question is acquired. We also believe that it is a good idea to introduce a new language to children at primary school age, as they are less self-conscious about speaking aloud at this stage of their development. It is widely believed that the early acquisition of a foreign language facilitates the learning of other foreign languages later in life. With the rise of international commerce means that pupils need to be equipped with the skills needed by the international workplace. The choice of which language to teach is secondary to the lifelong language learning skills that the pupils will be encouraged to develop. Skills that they will be able access in the future will help them to learn new languages or to improve their competence in an existing language. Increased capability in the use of MFL promotes initiative, confidence and independent learning and encourages diversity within society.
Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives of learning a modern foreign language in primary school are:
- To foster an interest in learning other languages;
- To introduce young children to another language in a way that is enjoyable and fun;
- To make young children aware that language has a structure, and that the structure differs from one language to another;
- To help children develop their awareness of cultural differences in other countries;
- To develop their speaking and listening skills;
- To lay the foundations for future study.
KS2 children have a regular forty minutes’ lesson of modern foreign language a week, in order to ensure progression and skills development. The lessons may be taught in Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Sage 2 by a consistent teacher to ensure progression through the year groups. As a school we work very closely with a specialist French teacher from a local Secondary Academy to ensure our teaching and learning is to the highest standard.
French is the modern foreign language that is taught in our school. The curriculum that is followed is based on the guidance given in the revised National Curriculum, using the Association for Language Learning scheme of work; ‘Niveau’ as a basis. The children are taught to know and understand how to:
- Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and asking and answering questions;
- Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say;
- Use correct pronunciation and intonation;
- Memorise words;
- Interpret meaning;
- Understand basic grammar;
- Use dictionaries;
- Work in pairs and groups, and communicate in French;
- Look at life in another culture.
During French sessions children are given the opportunity to work as a class, as individuals and as part of a group. The choice of class organisation is determined by the learning task. By its nature MFL will involve lots of interaction with visual, auditory and kinaesthetic prompts.
Teaching and learning styles
We use a variety of techniques to encourage the children to have an active engagement in the modern foreign language: these include games, role-play and songs (particularly action songs). We often use puppets and soft toys to demonstrate the foreign language and visuals. We frequently use a mime to accompany new vocabulary in the foreign language, as this serves to demonstrate the foreign language without the need for translation. We emphasise the listening and speaking skills over the reading and writing, although we do promote written language too. We also use a multi-sensory and kinaesthetic approach to teaching, i.e. we try to introduce a physical element into some of the games, as we believe that this helps reinforce the children’s memory. We make the lessons as entertaining and enjoyable as possible, as we realise that this approach to teaching helps to develop a positive attitude in the children to the learning of modern foreign languages. We build children’s confidence through constant praise for any contribution they make in the foreign language.
All KS2 pupils shall have the opportunity to develop MFL capability. The school promotes equal opportunities and fairness of distribution of MFL resources. Children with other languages at home are encouraged to use them for educational benefit and parents are offered advice about what is appropriate. Efforts are made to ensure that languages used at home are highlighted in the classroom once a teacher has been notified. Groupings for MFL will generally follow the same pattern as for all lessons. It is appropriate to match pairs of equal ability, and it is also appropriate to plan to have peer tutors for some lessons where the objectives also enable the abler user to learn by specifically teaching. Assessment, Recording and Reporting Most assessment is formative and is used to support teaching and learning and inform future planning. The MFL teacher assesses the children’s progress in the target language based on their achievement of the learning objectives in lessons. The teacher is provided with an assessment ‘tick’ chart to help with this. If any written MFL work is produced, it is marked in line with the school policy on marking.
Monitoring is carried out by the MFL Lead, head teacher or a member of senior leader in the following ways:
- Informal discussion with staff and pupils
- Planning scrutiny
- Work sampling
- Classroom observation
The head teacher, MFL Lead and class teachers all liaises with the local secondary schools too, so that they are aware of the modern foreign language experience of our children when they move to the next phase of their education.