Modern Foreign Language Provision at St Mary's - French
There are two main reasons behind the introduction of foreign languages into the KS2 National Curriculum. The first is that young children are intrinsically better language learners, and will therefore become more proficient more quickly. Teaching foreign languages early to young children, when they are most receptive, could close the gap which currently exists between our young people and their European counterparts in terms of foreign language capability, making them more competitive on the global market.
The second is that in an increasingly globalized world, intercultural competence is essential, and that it is important to awaken children’s interests in other people and cultures at a time when they are open and receptive. More recent arguments are based on the cognitive advantages that learning a foreign language brings (such as enhanced problem solving, attentional control or ability to switch tasks, and on the claim that it helps with literacy in English).
Language teaching at primary level also makes a valuable contribution to social inclusion within their school. This is because all children, whatever their background, home language or experience of other subjects, begin to learn something new at the same time. In this way, the language class creates a level playing field where everyone starts in the same place.
Language teachers have also observed benefits, which include improvements in pupils’ confidence and understanding about the world, as well as cognitive benefits, including the application of grammar.
By the time our children leave St Mary's to go to secondary school most will be proficient in ‘speaking in sentences using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures’.
For more information about MFL in the National Curriculum please click on the picture link.
Learning a new language is fun!
Games and activities lend themselves naturally to language learning. Repetition and practice are essential in language learning, so games requiring lots of repetition, such as Lotto, Simon Says and Chinese Whispers are ideal.
It’s best to start early
Primary pupils are very receptive to learning a new language. They are willing and able to mimic pronounciation without the inhibitions
and self-consiciousness of older students. They enjoy playing with the language and pick it up very quickly. Their sensitive ears help
them pick up on and duplicate tricky sounds that adults, and even adolescents, often stumble over.
The ideal place to start
In primary schools, children typically spend the whole day with one class teacher who covers the whole curriculum. This is ideal for foreign language learning as teachers can exploit many opportunities to integrate foreign language into everyday classroom routines (such as calling the register), and into other lessons (such as counting in the foreign language during PE lessons or designing a replacement for the Eiffel Tower in Design and Technology). A class teacher who teaches everything, including the foreign language, helps reinforce the hidden message that ‘everyone can do it.’
Develops self confidence
Children gain a great sense of accomplishment from learning to say something in a foreign language – it’s like learning to crack a code! Language learning also provides frequent opportunities to perform before an audience. This nurtures pupils’ self-esteem and self confidence and develops strong interpersonal skills.
Enriches and enhances children's mental development
International studies have shown repeatedly that foreign language learning increases critical thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility of mind in young children. Pupils who learn a foreign language do better on both verbal and maths tests than those that don’t. Learning a foreign language actually increases the density of ‘grey matter’ in the brain and the number of synapses, that interconnect parts of the brain.
Improves children's understanding of English
Through studying a foreign language, grammatical concepts and rules in English become clearer. Children use what they learn in one language to reinforce what they’ve learned in another.
Encourages positive attitudes to foreign languages
Having a positive attitude has been shown to be a crucial factor in determining children’s success in foreign
language learning. By showing children that language learning can be fun, pupils will approach secondary school language lessons with greater enthusiasm and anticipation.
Broadens children's horizons
Language learning is more than just learning to speak and write in a different language. Learning about festivals and traditions from countries where the language is spoken helps children appreciate other cultures so that they can take a place in our global society.
Help children in later careers
Primary school might seem a bit early to start thinking about what career a child might have as an adult. However, as the world becomes more global, businesses and public organizations will need more people who can communicate in other languages, and are aware of different cultures.
It's great when you go on holiday!
The whole purpose of learning a foreign language becomes obvious when you have a chance to use it. It is so satisfying to be able to go into a baker’s shop in France, ask for a croissant, and actually be understood. But, it’s not always necessary to go abroad to have real experiences of communicating in a foreign language. Schools can invite native speakers into the classroom or establish pen pal links with schools abroad.