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Teaching Modern Foreign Languages in the Early Years and KS1

Discussion in 'Primary' started by sammallerston, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. Hi
    could I have comments from people who have experience of teaching MFL in the younger years please?
    How do you do it? How do you find it as a practioner? How do the children respond? And finally is it worth while?
    Thank you.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I've only done 2 terms teaching mixed 3/4 and 1/2 classesfor an hour a week. Would have been better to have done 1/2 hour and then fitted in some of the other suggestions I'd put forward to integrate the language into registration/PE etc. but I wasn't the class teacher.
    I am an MFL JUN/Sec. trained which helped me know some of thepedagogy and learning skills needed and I was able to show the class teachers how to approach the language learning and not be so scared of it.
    The children loved the excitement of learning a new language and the fun one can have with PMFL (though the class teacher who took on the class after me wasn't always grateful for how 'hyper' and excitable they were!).
    I would say in terms of language acquisition over the time wasn't that enormous and could easily have been done in a shorter time with older children BUT in terms of children acquiring an 'ear' for a language, their enthusiasm and willingness to have a go withou fear of being laughed at IS definitely worth it. Done well it's worth it, but done by someone who feels it a burden and passes on bad 'vibes' to the children it's not.
  3. Lara
    that's perfect! Just what I wanted to hear.
    Thank you
  4. Ramjam

    Ramjam New commenter

    songs, colours, days of the week, months of the year, numbers, asking how to go to the toilet, asking for a drink/ food, asking and responding to what's your name etc. are all great fun and as you say, develop an ear for other languages.
    The snag is, there isn't enough room in the curriculum, nor enough teachers confident to teach MFL.
    XapliE11 likes this.
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    NB. Little 'hobby-horse of mine.
    <u>PLEASE, please</u> do not equate 'learning a foreign language' with mere learning of vocabulary. Structures with which to utilise/practise/re-use that vocab is absolutely essential and needs to form part of the learning.It also needs to be structured to build on progressively.
  6. runaway

    runaway New commenter

    KS1 will love using storybooks such as 'La Chenille Qui Fait des Trous' (The Hungry Caterpillar) as the basis for a whole term of language learning. Also little rhymes, songs and games. Anything that gets them used firstly to the idea of other languages and secondly to the actual sounds of French so that it's not so scary later on. Moreover the synapses in the brain that can actually 'hear' and identify sounds in foreign languages start to break down from the age of 4, so catch them now and life will be so much easier in the future when they learn a language (see research by Oxford uni, also parkinsons and Alzheimer societies amongst other papers).
    There are a lot of resources and support out there both free and published. Ranges from teacher-made resources such as those shared on TES and on my own forum for early language learning http://primarymfl.ning.com through to full-on commercial immersion-language-learning schemes such as 'Dinocroc Hocus & Loutus' devised by academics based on careful research into how VERY young children learn a second language.
    XapliE11 likes this.
  7. Ramjam

    Ramjam New commenter

    I quite agree with that, and I'm qualified to teach and structure it, but once again the government - whichever, put it into place without proper funding.
    How many teachers at your primary are qualified to teach MFL? How many teachers actually feel that there is sufficient time in the curriculum? There is more damage done by the start stop or badly done teaching of a language than by not teaching it at all. Songs and rhymes etc don't claim to say the children are learning a foreign language, but they do interest the children and enthuse them for the next step.
    Stupidest idea I've come across is children who have 4-6 years of mixed quality teaching of, let's say Spanish and then go to secondary and start all over again with children who have done none,or just as bad, start another foreign language e.g. French, with children who already have some knowledge of this. Very demoralising and puts some children off learning an MFL. This happens round our way a lot.
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    <u>Even worse than this</u> was someone who posted recently that after 2 years of learning Spanish in Yrs 3 & 4, they're expected to swap to French for5 &6!
  9. MizUnderstood

    MizUnderstood New commenter

    There's a really good resource called 'Take 10' and they come in several different languages. It was given to all Devon schools but you can buy it through the Devon LDP (I think...I will check the paperwork).
    It has games, finger rhymes, songs, activities etc that can be worked into all different parts of the day and a CD for teachers who aren't confident with their own pronunciation.
    On our MFL training (current trainee) we were told that it was not good practice to teach the children in chunks of colours, school subjects, animals etc as this isn't how we naturally acquire a language. We acquire language by being exposed to it from the moment we are born, so by singing songs, doing rhymes, watching cartoons etc we are teaching whole sentences and the structure of a language rather than just random vocab content which the children then have to try and mesh into some sort of sense.
    Here is a really sweet settling song, you sing it to the tune of 3 blind mice and the children copy you after each line (the parts in brackets are the children!) and you can do a small action for each part, getting quieter for the final line.
    Regardez, (Regardez)
    Ecoutez, (Ecoutez)
    Asseyez-vous directement (Asseyez-vous directement)
    En silence (En silence)
    After my MFL training I am really enthused about how I can add MFL opportunities into every day, I can't wait to get my own class!
    XapliE11 likes this.
  10. MizUnderstood

    MizUnderstood New commenter

    Our MFL trainer said that exposure to lots of different languages is good, but maybe a mix throughout the whole time would be better than a chop and change scenario, I will ask next time I see him.
  11. MizUnderstood

    MizUnderstood New commenter

  12. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Years ago, I used to think this might be quite a good idea, especially as I could teach 3 languages, but after actually working in Primary classes I feel, whilst it's good to have some exposure to other languages and compare them, one really needs continuity and to have a firm hold on ONE language first.
    XapliE11 likes this.
  13. airun

    airun New commenter

    I'm a native Spanish teacher teaching English as a MFL in Early Years. I work in a state school in Spain teaching 80% of the time in English. I have 25 3 yrs old children and it's a big challenge but not impossible. I speak English all the time using easy and short sentences at the beginning. Although they struggle a bit at the beginning they all become familiar with the language as it's the only one spoken in the classroom. I use Nursery Rhymes related to the topics, puppets, tales, videos, etc. It's very important and extremely useful to use all kind of audio visual resources as they help the children to understand what you're saying, as well as much of mimo or body language.
    They enjoy Peppa pig, Pocoyo, Little Princess and Nursery Rhymes videos.
    They do understand almost everything you tell them in English as you're covering their inmediate needs at that stage. It's not you're explaining Physics, but simple things.
    I'm introducing the alphabet with a song and a phonics video, as well as numbers, colours, etc. Then I take all this vocab into practice through games, science experiments (appropriate for kids) and worksheets.
    It's about at the third term when I'm starting teaching the first set of phonics using the Jolly Phonics programme.
    Teaching a MFL as Spanish (for example) in a non Spanish speaker country should be done in the same way. Just make sure the teacher has the level required to do it so the children get an almost perfect learning and pronunciation of the language.
    Hope this was helpful.

    XapliE11 likes this.
  14. Aramillie

    Aramillie New commenter

    We currently teach Mfl (German) across the whole school from reception up to year 6 and we think it is very worthwhile. In reception and year 1, we keep it quite simple, learning using songs, games, rhymes etc and the children love it, we use Take 10, familiar episodes of children's programmes like Peppa Pig in the target language and also give classroom instructions (with accompanying mime). These are then reinforced throughout the week by class teachers using a phrase or command of the week, and also always sing happy birthday in German. As another poster stated, catching them early means that they are keen, ours love going home to parents and sharing what they have learnt, and not embarrassed to speak in front of their peers which is quite often the case higher up in the school. We have also today had the whole school carol service with Stille Nacht and Alle Jahre Wieder performed by the children - beautiful.
    XapliE11 likes this.
  15. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    have you seen the http://www.ukgermanconnection.org/kids_home_uk website? It's free and has some good info.
  16. A good resource to help consolidate vocab is Chantons -Tous Les Jours from Out of the Ark Music. Songs and interactive activities on a CD ROM help children learn the vocab before singing the songs. Book includes worksheet, translations , song lyrics. It also comes with a CD with backing tracks and vocals - you don't need to be a music specialist, the songs are really catchy an the children learn them quickly.. Have a listen on line at http://www.outoftheark.co.uk/products/curriculum-songbooks/chantons-tous-les-jours.html
  17. It amazes me that primary-school teachers assume that the best introduction to Modern Foreign Languages is one of the many national languages, and that French is the best one, as most teachers have already reached at least O-level in it. The Primary French Project failed forty years ago. It cost LEAs too much to have sufficient teachers trained, preferably in France, and always involving employment of supply teachers to take their place. Then there was the problem of clashing with secondary schools who taught a different national language. Pure prejudice prevents schools from adopting the Springboard to Languages Project, which costs nothing, does not clash and fills children with confidence, not fear. Most British children find foreign languages so difficult that they drop them after the compulsory two years in the secondary school, in favour of relying upon English in meeting foreigners. The result is the British reputation for being unable to learn a foregn language. The solution is for primary-school teachers to visit the website, Springboard to Languages, read it without prejudice, and act upon it.

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