Learning a foreign language at school
Children tend to really enjoy learning a new language at primary school. Most language-learning techniques are great fun, and children get a real sense of achievement from mastering and using new key phrases!
Schools are free to choose whether to teach an ancient or a modern language; it is much more about language learning skills than the particular language on offer. At Audley we currently teach Spanish in KS2.
By studying a foreign language, children are given the opportunity not only to learn about other cultures but, more importantly, to communicate with others too. It is also a thoroughly enjoyable subject to learn, with less emphasis on the written word and more on practical tasks, such as drama, story-telling, role-play, speaking and listening.
The national curriculum for languages aims to ensure that all pupils:
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
- Can 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.
Key Stage 1
Even though learning a language is only from Year 3 upwards, some classes use singing, counting and naming colours in a foreign language.
Key Stage 2
All children in Key Stage 2 are expected to be given opportunities to learn how to:
- Communicate orally
- Share their ideas and feelings using speech
- Compare their use of English grammar and spelling to another language
- Express some ideas in writing.
The curriculum no longer sets out topics or units of work to cover; instead it outlines what children should be taught under more general headings. Some of these include:
- Listening to a language and joining in to learn everyday words and phrases
- Learning how to have conversations in another language to share ideas and opinions as well as being able to ask and answer questions
- Reading texts and stories in another language, carrying out basic comprehension tasks
- Learning songs, poems, rhymes and stories in another language to help with vocabulary but also with cultural understanding
- Writing some words and phrases from memory as well as describing people and places with basic sentences.
A range of everyday and routine topics such as numbers, colours, greetings, family, animals, school, travel, or other similar subjects are chosen. From Year 3 children will learn a foreign language and in this year group they might just use speech and limited written tasks to learn the basics. As they move up from Year 3, children will see much more of the written language and build on their early skills, allowing them to speak, write and listen with much more skill.