Modern Foreign Languages
We believe that all children in KS2 should have the opportunity to learn modern foreign languages, as it provides a valuable educational, social and cultural experience for them. The emphasis of our teaching is on developing communication and literacy skills, to lay the foundation for the future language learning.
In order to provide such a high-quality language education, we employ specialist and native language teachers to deliver French and Spanish lessons to children in Y3-Y6. We believe that the most natural yet effective way to learn a foreign language is by mirroring our acquisition of our first language or mother tongue. In other words, as children, we hear people around us, we repeat those words, we listen to music and we develop the right vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation without realising. Naturally, we become fluent and competent in that language and we improve it by studying it in depth. The same happens here, at Sharnbrook Primary, when we implement the audio-lingual method combined with Communicative Language Teaching. These two approaches are believed to be very effective, since the audio-lingual side of it gives the pupil the confidence to use foreign sounds and phonemes as well as correct grammar. The Communicative approach gives the pupils exposure to language that will be used in realistic contexts, where they might find themselves in real life. It makes the learning factual and purposeful, memorable and exciting. Therefore, the focus is put on speech and listening to begin with and, once that base is solid, we build on it by bringing writing and texts into the classroom, combining them with the primary skills mentioned before.
At Sharnbrook Primary our instrument for assessment is the Common European Framework Reference for Languages (CEFR), produced within the Council of Europe and designed by language specialists who believe in the development of a Communicative approach. We aim for our pupils to build upon their knowledge in stages: from a non-user of the foreign language to a basic user, to eventually reaching their highest level by becoming independent users.
One of our main objectives is to bring an exciting, interesting and motivating experience of foreign language learning. Many studies show that “motivation is one of the most important factors for second language acquisition” (Gardner & Lambert, 1959), as concepts are retained and remembered easily if the person is enjoying the learning. Therefore, at Sharnbrook primary we make sure that learning a foreign language goes far beyond learning the grammar in isolation. Our pupils learn about the different cultures, societies and lifestyles that Spanish and French children have in their countries.
In our school, multilingualism is all around. Our pupils have designed signs which one can see outside our classrooms and in common places to make the learning more practical and realistic. Our enthusiasm and interest in languages is growing and so it is in our pupils.