‘Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. A high-quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world’. The National Curriculum, 2014
At Penn Wood, children are taught French in Key Stage 2 by a specialist teacher. The intention of the foreign language curriculum at Penn Wood Primary School is that children are taught to develop their competence in a foreign language in a way that is enjoyable and stimulating.
In 2016, the Teaching Schools Council advised, in their MFL Pedagogy Review, that ‘content should be stimulating and widen students’ knowledge of the culture and history of the new language, without compromising the sequencing of vocabulary and grammar.’ It is therefore imperative that the school’s curriculum achieves a balance between these two aspects of languages teaching. Teaching will allow children to develop a grammatical and phonological understanding of the target language.
In addition, it is essential that children are made aware of cultural differences through learning about another country and its language and practices. Languages teaching must prepare children to be a global citizen now and in their future roles within a global community. Children will be given the opportunity to learn French through songs, stories and books – the golden thread that runs throughout our curriculum.
It is pertinent that schools provide a balanced and broadly-based curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities and responsibilities and experiences for later life; languages teaching is central to this. As stated in a paper on Modern Foreign Languages by The Association of School and Collage Leaders (ASCL), ‘Learning a new language and culture helps stimulate a child’s curiosity and makes them open-minded and tolerant of diversity.’
Broadly, our curriculum coverage at Penn Wood aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources.
- Speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating what they want to say, including through discussion and asking questions, and continually improving the accuracy of their pronunciation and intonation.
- Can write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using the variety of grammatical structures that they have learnt.
- Discover and develop an appreciation of a range of writing in the language studied.
Learning another language presents opportunities for the reinforcement of knowledge, skills and understanding in other curriculum areas. According to a paper published ASCL, ‘Research shows that language learning at school boosts overall literacy.’ An understanding of the grammatical structures and etymology within a new language enhances children’s understanding of their own language and therefore links closely to the English Curriculum. We also know from research that ‘the ability to switch between languages develops cognitive flexibility and improves multitasking and creativity.’ (ASCL)
The Big Ideas within Languages teaching
The ‘big ideas’ in language enable teachers and children to organise knowledge and skill within the subject.
At Penn Wood, we are mindful of the following:
- Grammatical constructs - identify, use and manipulate a variety of grammatical structures in the language taught, as well as noting similarities with native languages.
- Vocabulary - develop and use a wide-ranging and deepening vocabulary.
- Linguistic competence – express ideas clearly and coherently, both orally and written.
- Global citizenship – develop a wider awareness of cultural differences and similarities
Teaching and Learning
High quality languages instruction values listening, speaking, reading and writing as four equally important elements. As part of the National Curriculum, it is expected that all children in Key Stage 2 are taught the following:
Speaking and Listening
- Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding.
- Explore the patterns and sound of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of the words.
- Engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; respond to those of others; seek clarification and help.
- Speak in sentences using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures.
- Present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences.
- Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.
Reading and Writing
- Develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases.
- Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing.
- Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words introduced into familiar written material, including using a dictionary.
- Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing.
- Write words from memory and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly.
- Understand basic grammar appropriate to the language being studied.
In 2016, in their MFL Pedagogy Review, the Teaching Schools Council advised that ‘the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing should be taught together’ and at Penn Wood, these four skills form part of every lesson.