Greasby Infant School
MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES
Following upon the long history of foreign language learning at Greasby Infant School, there continues to be a specialist teacher in residence for two days per week, now delivering French and Spanish to the children. There is also a Hanban teacher for Mandarin Chinese lessons. The children are introduced to their foreign languages from the age of four. We have chosen French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese for our young learners. The children discover how many words are very similar to our language and also study various cultural aspects of the countries. Languages are an important part of the primary curriculum in ensuring complete global citizenship for our young children. Children will learn through their language learning a greater awareness of the wider world. The study of their Foreign Languages is also linked to most other areas of the curriculum.
Confucius Classroom status
We are pleased to have achieved Confucius Classroom status, which enables us to continue Mandarin Chinese teaching throughout the whole school on a weekly basis. There is a Hanban teacher currently in residence, making it possible for all classes, from pre-school to Year Two, to learn Mandarin Chinese from a native speaker.
Our Aims and Objectives
- Through games, songs and stories, to be able to understand basic phrases
- To memorise relevant expressions
- To begin to respond verbally with single words and more extended phrases according to individual ability
- To inspire a life-long love of studying foreign languages
- To enable the children to find out about the wider world
- To lay useful foundations for future language learning
- To enjoy the study of languages as fun and relevant to the children’s lives
We endeavour to work with other schools to bring an international dimension to the heart of our curriculum. We invite other local primary schools to take part in Language Festivals at regular intervals throughout the year.
Approaches to learning and teaching
Reception and Key Stage One children have a natural interest towards the wider world, an intense curiosity about other people and how they live, coupled with a strong need to communicate, these are ideal conditions in which to start teaching them a new language. Most have a very good ear and are not yet so self-conscious about trying out new sounds.
Learning a foreign language needs to be fun and accessible to all through games and role-play situations. Children who have encountered difficulties in other subjects will welcome starting a new subject from scratch with their peers. The emphasis is on oral skills: developing a good ear to reproduce the correct sound and lots of speaking practice. Children are introduced to the written words in year two as they begin to feel the need to keep a record of their increasing vocabulary.
Teaching and learning styles
The many different approaches used in teaching foreign languages will ensure that all children develop their understanding with enjoyment using a vast array of teaching methods and materials:
- Audio-visual material – audio CDs and DVDs
- Familiar ‘big books’ translated in-language
- Original in-language children’s stories and nursery rhymes for cultural diversity
- Songs, singing games, music and dance
- Games to reinforce responding with understanding and to keep children alert
Children are currently taught as a whole class of 30 pupils. When it is possible, on the days when additional help is available, small groups are encouraged to work on activities that will stimulate their interest for the country and language they are studying.
Links with other areas of the curriculum
Whenever possible, foreign language lessons will follow the current topics in each year group. In addition it is a subject rich in possibilities to link with other areas:
Children are encouraged to compare their own language with the new foreign one and discuss similarities and differences. This often helps to understand grammatical concepts. It also gives a glimpse of how languages evolve and interrelate.
Children will be familiar with games and activities from their numeracy lessons and some of these can be adapted in MFL lessons.
Animals, parts of the body and food are ideal topics to introduce basic vocabulary in primary MFL.
ICT opens up many possibilities for MFL such as audio-visual aids, language computer activities, ipad activities, interactive games and linking up with potential partner schools.
Children learn to locate other countries and discuss physical features such as weather and landscape. The learn to say where they live.
We focus on paintings and drawings relating to topics, for example Animals in art.
A very important part of an MFL lesson is singing in the target language, therefore introducing repetition in a natural and mood lifting way. All pupils, including preschool children, are encouraged to use musical instruments as they learn to sing along with the new songs. Children also learn about instruments typically played in other countries, such as castanets in Spain.
Simple instructions to many warm up games can be given such as travelling, counting and colours, thus reinforcing learning kinetically. Spanish dance and Chinese martial arts are also enjoyed by the children.
Lessons are planned to enable all pupils to participate fully and achieve their potential.
- Whole class input and practice to give everyone confidence
- Increasing difficulty of questioning progressively
- Offering a choice of responses: physical response (easy), one word response (for most children), more complex phrase (able children)
- Tasks matched to groups’ abilities
Learning a foreign language is indispensable in our global era. It is necessary for all children to have access to the wider world, regardless of ability and we aim for all of them to experience success in this.
All children’s efforts and achievements are praised. We wish to encourage full and active participation by all children. Through the teaching we will promote mutual respect and tolerance for all cultures.
Evaluation, Assessment and Record Keeping
Assessment is an integral part of teaching. A variety of assessment techniques are used in the classroom. The assessment of pupils’ work is on-going during the lessons and based on direct observation of their physical and verbal responses. Children get frequent and immediate verbal feedback in the target language. Assessment and an achievement record will be developed for all pupils and provided to the class teacher.
Role of the MFL Coordinator
The role of the MFL Coordinator is largely to ensure that their curriculum area is being delivered in a way that meets the learning objectives and inspires and motivates the children. The MFL Coordinator aims to continually improve provision of each subject within the school. This is done by:
- Creating suitable medium term plans for each programme of study
- Monitoring the teaching and learning
- Offering advice and support to colleagues, if requested
- Keeping up to date with any new subject developments
- Replenishing and maintaining teaching resources
- Liaising with Governors, producing regular updates – listing developments and achievements to date.
- Planning and implementing annual Language festivals in school
- Planning and implementing ‘impact days’ linked to languages and culture.