A network for all who teach languages to children
I would appreciate views from your own experience, or pointers to existing research, as to whether there is any value in changing from learning one language over the four KS2 years to learning three or four languages over the course of KS2. Our school has, for many years, taught French formally from Year 3 to Year 6, by which I mean addressing all four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening through a progressive programme, with an Introductory Year in Year 2 (less formal). Pupils receive 60 minutes per week in Years 3 and 4, and 80 minutes per week in Years 5 and 6, taught be a Specialist. Progress has generally been very good, particularly amongst those who remain at the school for all four years - being an overseas school we have a high pupil turnover with many nationalities, which is another factor. Students who stay from KS2 through to GCSE have regularly gained A or A* in French.
There is a move to explore the possibility of adding two more languages in KS2. Being at the exploratory stage, no particular model has yet been decided on, so I am trying to amass information to help us decide on a variety of possible models and also ascertain advantages and disadvantages of diluting the current provision in favour of more languages but less intensity.
With many of you teaching many different models of MFL in Primary, I'm sure there will be a good variety of opinions out there and this seems like an excellent place to begin my investigations!
I look forward to hearing what you have to say...
Strangely I used to wonder if this might be a good idea and actually suggested it as a strategy on an application I did anumber of years back.
However on reflection I do believe it is important to give a solid grounding in one language ensuring progression beforeone embarks on other languages. Having a firm grasp of 'how a language works' does enable learning other languages easier, as one understands the nuts and bolts of grammar, tenses, adjectival agreements etc. and just has to apply the rules of that particular language.
Best watch the news or read the Sunday Times today before you commit!
This is from the draft letter from Mr Gove Notice the the recommendation for one language
"The new foreign languages Programme of Study will require an appropriate balance of spoken and written language. Pupils must learn to speak in sentences, with appropriate pronunciation. They will have to express simple ideas with clarity. Pupils should also learn to write phrases and short sentences from memory. They should develop an understanding of basic grammar. And they should become acquainted with songs and poems in the language studied. Teaching should focus on making substantial progress in one language"
Must say I'm delighted! I wasn't really at all in favour of the idea of several languages but had simply been tasked with researching the options. One language had been my gut feeling all along, especially as many of our pupils are already learning English as a second or even third language, and French as a third or fourth!
It also means my role as French teacher gets the rubber seal of approval...!
Thank you all for your replies - it's such an asset having this forum. I quoted your responses in my presentation to the Head, and will do to the Board of Govs when I meet them later this month.
Have to say I'm broadly in favour of a multilingual approach in KS1; modified to suit your particular circumstances. There is much that can be achieved in talking in and about other languages, cultures, countries,customs...
KS1 will not be compulsory but can lay down some important concepts about languages in general and have great fun with the children too. Might be something you want to formalise for the governors.
Like your idea of making younger children more 'internationally and linguistically aware' by a multi-lingual approach, laying down important concepts and this could still fit in with a more concentrated study of just one language. Mmm, much food for thought.
We take the multilingual approach. Year 3 Spanish, Year 4 German, Year 5 French, Year6 a year of comparing languages andd projects involving all3 languages.
The advantages of this model are:
-class teachers dont feel overwhelmed by the childrten knowing more than them1
- Year 6's maintain their motivation and enthusiasm, whichever of the languagers is taken up by the secondary school our children have a grounding;
-the children become proficient languager learners and see how languages work
Many of our children go on to taking languages early at secondary.