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 emphasis on written, speaking, reading and listening and more on practical tasks, such as drama, story-telling.
By the end of Key Stage 2, children 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 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
Celebration of diversity and cultures
In our school we like to celebrate other cultures and diversity. When learning a new language, children will be exposed to the culture of those countries.
Culture is a strong part of people’s lives. It influences their views, their values, their humour, their hopes, their loyalties, and their worries and fears. So when you are working with people and building relationships with them, it helps to have some perspective and understanding of their cultures.
As children explore other cultures, it’s also important to remember how much we have in common. People see the world very differently, but they know what it is like to wake up in the morning and look forward to the adventures that of the day. We are all human beings. We all love deeply, want to learn, have hopes and dreams, and have experienced pain and fear.
Our friends in Spain
This year, we are delighted that our school is collaborating with a Primary School in Spain: Colegio Badiel, Guadalajara.
All children will have the opportunity to participate in different activities. In October, the Y2s from both schools wrote presentation cards, including their names, where they were from, age and birthday. We, then, sent them to each other by post. We were very excited to receive the cards and we had so much fun comparing them.
In December, both nurseries worked together sharing the “Snowman” story in English and we did it in Spanish. When the activity was completed, children exchanged pictures. They loved it!
This term, we have two activities. The first one is an exchange of food recipes. Our Year4 have chosen some simple food recipes and the will be writing them in Spanish for our friend. At the same time, their Year 4 will do the same, but in English.
The second activity it will be organised by our Year 5. They are going to use Virtual Reality and videos to show their classrooms and the school to our friends in Spain. They will also present themselves with written letters to a pen pal.
Next term, children will be writing emails to a pen pal and making posters of games they play here.
Follow us on Twitter: We will be uploading information of all the activities!
How can I support my child with languages?
The foreign language learning your child experiences at school should be more than enough to set them on their way.
However, you might like to support their learning at home by trying some of the following:
Take an interest, and learn with your child
Learn alongside them: find out the language they are learning and get them to teach you some key words and phrases.
They might like to make a simple poster illustrating key words and phrases, or use sticky notes to label everyday objects in a foreign language. Another good idea is to create a ‘new words’ dictionary for them to record all the new things that they have been learning. You may want to invest in a bilingual dictionary for them to look up further words — there are a great many ‘child-friendly’ versions of these available.
Make it multimedia
Why not find books, films or songs in the language they’re learning? These can be a wonderful way to learn a language without even realising it. Early-readers or lift-the-flap books are brilliant for learning a new language. The Internet is perfect for bringing some cultural learning into your home, allowing as it does access to videos, radio/audio and images from all around the globe. It has never been easier to expand your child’s horizons. There are also many games accessible on line (many of which are free) to help engage your child at home as well as websites (listed below) that include games, eBooks and links to other foreign language sites too.
Make it fun
Above all, make any additional language learning you do at home fun, practical and supportive. Learning a new language can be a little daunting at first but with the help of parents and schools, it needn’t be the case. Even playing simple games (such as ‘Snap’, ‘Guess Who’, ‘Snakes and Ladders’) and adding an element of a foreign language (such as counting, colours or even just answering yes and no) could be a wonderful aid.
Further support and useful links
A good way to help your child is to use some of the online resources that are available. (e.g Linguascope and Education City) so do ask for login details if you haven’t already been given them.
Other ‘free’ places to look include:
- Languages pages from the BBC
- Little Red Languages (free languages resources and activities)
- Duolingo — a fun and effective way to learn languages