At Ghyll Royd we teach Spanish and French to all children as part of the normal school curriculum. We do this for several reasons. Firstly, we believe that many children really enjoy learning to speak another language. Secondly, we also believe that the earlier a child is exposed to a foreign language, the faster the language in question is acquired. We also believe that it is a good idea to introduce a new language to children when they are at primary school, as they tend to be less self-conscious about speaking aloud at this stage of their development. It is widely believed that the early acquisition of a foreign language facilitates the learning of other foreign languages later in life.
Our aims and objectives of learning a modern foreign language are:
- to foster an interest in learning other languages;
- to introduce young children to another language in a way that is enjoyable and fun;
- to make young children aware that language has structure, and that the structure differs from one language to another;
- to help children develop their awareness of cultural differences in other countries;
- to develop their speaking and listening skills;
- to lay the foundations for future study.
We teach a foreign language to children in all years for one hour a week. Spanish and French is the modern foreign language that we teach in our school. The curriculum that we follow is based on the guidance given in the revised National Curriculum. We teach the children to know and understand how to:
- ask and answer questions;
- use correct pronunciation and intonation;
- memorise words;
- interpret meaning;
- understand basic grammar;
- use dictionaries;
- work in pairs and groups, and communicate in the other language;
- look at life in another culture.
We use a variety of techniques to encourage the children to have an active engagement in the modern foreign language: these include games, role-play and songs (particularly action songs). We often use puppets and soft toys to demonstrate the foreign language. We frequently use mime to accompany new vocabulary in the foreign language, as this serves to demonstrate the foreign language without the need for translation. In addition, children have access to interactive software enabling them to practise vocabulary acquisition both in and out of school lesson time. We emphasise listening and speaking skills over the reading and writing skills. We also use a multi-sensory and kinaesthetic approach to teaching, i.e. we try to introduce a physical element into some of the games, as we believe that this serves to reinforce memory. We make the lessons as entertaining and enjoyable as possible, as we realise that this approach serves to develop a positive attitude in the children to the learning of modern foreign languages. We build children’s confidence through constant praise for any contribution they make in the foreign language, however tentative.