Creative teaching of primary languages

A Modern or ancient language at KS2 now forms part of the national curriculum. The KS2 programme of study states:

‘It should enable pupils to understand and communicate ideas, facts and feelings in speech and writing, focused on familiar and routine matters, using their knowledge of phonology, grammatical structures and vocabulary.’ National Curriculum Langages

In my experience the biggest fear teachers have is lack of knowledge and fear of mispronunciation. They can order a coffee or beer and can chant the endings for ‘er’ verbs in French and that’s about as much as they can remember from studying GCSE.

My advice would be to make it fun and make use of all the lovely websites out there. Here are some other ideas to get you started:

Celebrate a language and culture Day

Launch MFL as a school by having a day dedicated to celebrating language and culture; begin the day with a continental breakfast. Give all classes a country to focus on and ask them to find out as much as they can about that country during the day; the culture, food, climate and a few words in the country’s primary language. Finish off the day with a celebration assembly, allowing children to showcase all the things they have learnt during the day. It’s also a lovely idea to recognise other cultures within your school community. You can even celebrate yourself after school; prosecco is from Italy after all.

Link languages to other subjects

Did you know leaning another language improves a child’s literacy skills, intercultural understanding and empathy for others, the list goes on…  For example if a child wants to say they love something in Spanish they would use the phrase ‘me encanta, (it enchants me), imagine how impressed you would be if this was then reflected in their creative writing you would be and they described something as ‘enchanting’. Bilingual dictionaries are a brilliant resource for every classroom; allow children to explore new words and their meanings independently (this could even be guided reading activity).  Take time to explore the different sounds and grammatical structures of the target language and compare then to English.

In maths represent data (favourite colours, animals, sports etc.) using various graphs, study the history and Geography of the country and warm up in PE by shouting out a number in the target language and asking the children to get into groups of that number.

 

Play with Language

Children love learning new words and phrases in other languages and this can be done in lots of fun and interesting ways. Play lots of games Simon says, memory games, bingo, decipher anagrams etc. When introducing new vocabulary using flashcards use different methods to reinforce the vocabulary:

Guess the card- the teacher holds the flashcard facing them and the children have to guess what the flashcard is.

Hide the card- send a child out of the room and hide the card somewhere in the classroom. When the child re-enters they have to try and find the card; the other children are constantly repeating the word, the closer the finder gets to the card the louder the children become and the further away the quieter they are.

Funny voices- ask the children to repeat the words in different voices e.g. a happy voice, an excited voice.

When you have built up to writing sentences or phrases, make human sentences and provide children with writing frames to support them.

Tap into technology

Most schools nowadays have tablets or laptops. Record children acting out their daily routine or favourite sports whilst someone else narrates, it really helps children with their pronunciation to listen to themselves back. Email or skype any partner schools you have, it is a lovely intercultural understanding exercise just to see pictures of a classroom in another country. There are also some excellent apps on the market now.

I think the key thing is keep it simple and fun; learning another language is such a fantastic, enjoyable experience and I promise you teaching is not something to be feared.

 

Michelle Dredger