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Primary and beginners languages

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by chris reall, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Any preferences for the language young children should start language learning with? Traditionally, it has been French, but this is quite a tricky language to start with. I usually do Italian in Y5/6 for the first two terms, with French in term 3. My colleague does German in Y3/4. KS1 are currently learning Spanish.

  2. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    I have no real suggestions I'm afraid. I teach MFL in secondary (French) and have gone into primary to deliver French once a week for a few years. They didn't seem to mind what language the children learned but thought it would be useful if it was the same as would be offered at the secondary school they were going to - which could cause difficulties I suppose if there are a lot of feeder schools. I know that in my Year 7 class children had learned several languages in Primary which although might not be immediately useful if they were going to do French with me, still had given them the experience of language learning in general.
  3. I have found that if we do a lot of work on a particular languagein Y6 in primary, they report in Y7 that they are doing the same stuff again. This is because we are not the only feeder school, and other schools have not necessarily learnt the same language or learnt it to the same level. Teaching language awareness seems to work better for us, especially as European languages feed into each other so well, and are a rich resource for word work in our own language.

  4. Hi
    At our school in Switzerland we teach usually teach basic English in situations such as restaurants and shops. e.g. "can I have...", "have you got.." etc.. As many of our kids take holidays with their parents abroad, English in such situations is probably going to offer them the best chance to try it out for real.
    If you're in the UK, then Spanish will probably be the best bet. Or given the financial crisis and lack of foreign holidays, maybe lancashire dialect for Blackpool would be best. (only joking!)
  5. BrightonEarly

    BrightonEarly Occasional commenter

    I like that primary school pupils are learning about language and how to learn a language. Why not teach them a language that none of their feeder or possible secondary schools do so that they can start a second language at secondary - learning will be accelerated because of their primary work and will add a second language as well.
    They also learn a lot about English structures, sentence building and literacy by comparing the language they are learning with English.
  6. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    That would certainly be the ideal solution. But how many qualified languages teachers do you know who can teach a language that isn't French, Spanish or German, let alone primary teachers? The personnel issue is a very significant one.
  7. How important do you think it is to have specialist linguist or native speaker input?

  8. runaway

    runaway New commenter

    Primary teaching is taught by primary teachers -they are specialist trained in primary pedagogy. If a linguist were to undertake the same training -wonderful. However primaries are NOT secondaries, they are NOT teaching GCSE and nor are they expecting mathematicians, biologists, physicists, musicians etc to deliver the rest of the curriculum. The aims of Primary education are not subject specific -that is why they have 'creative curriculums' and high quality cross curricular topic work concentrating on skills. We have an education system that very sensibly keeps separate secondaries where the aims ARE subject specific so that can come at an appropriate level of maturity.
  9. runaway

    runaway New commenter

    On the other hand native speaker input is actually a requirement just as it is at secondary already-the advice -exactly the same as per secondary -is to make real links wherever possible using native speakers and that ICT webcams video clips, sound files etc. are an adequate way of doing this.
  10. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    I think that if a primary teacher is going to teach a language, they need to be confident in doing so and that they need to have had some training, and that their pronunciation needs some kind of quality control. The secondary sector seems to me to be pretty negative about PML, muttering especially about "putting mistakes right" etc (BTW I used to be a secondary teacher but have taught primary langs for 3 years) I think that primary teachers owe it to themselves and everyone else to do the best job possible. I don't think having a native speaker is that important, as there are other ways of accessing "native" language.
  11. Your comments are really interesting. I used to teach French in secondary and was expected to teach at primary level as well. It was an independent school set up.
    Since then I've just concentrated on the primary work. It's huge fun; the children are enthusiastic with no self-limiting sense of embarrassment and I love it. I mainly teach French and offer Spanish, German and Italian lessons as fun treats if they've behaved well during the 6 weeks to half term. They vote in class and decide what they'd like to have as their 'treat'!
    Interestingly, there are frequently errors in the material that I've seen targeted at the primary non-specialist. That really does make me cross.
    I work hard with the class teachers to make sure that my SoW are linked to the current 'theme' as much as possible so we can be quite creative. As I am given an hour with each class( too long for a lang lesson I totally agree!) we can bring in numeracy and literacy games-in TL- and I have learned not to be afraid of glitter and glue ( and pastels and poster paint/ never acrylic...) The primary classroom can be a scary place to the uninitiated but it's worth taking calculated risks.
    We have 2 display boards in the hall and the children take immense pride in producing material for them. Thankfully I teach 8 classes so am never short of material and have the help of a stunningly talented TA . Her creative efforts astound me at times and she puts the displays up.
    I am lucky to work in the school I am in at the moment. It's a v challenging inner-city school and the children are quite deprived. But I've also taught in rural primaries and my experience has always been that the children really enjoy their language learning.
    Haven't posted before. I generally 'lurk' as it's good to keep up and I enjoy the discussions. Have a great weekend everyone!

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