"Learning a different language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things." Flora Lewis (a Jewish American journalist)
Children really enjoy learning a new language at LPPS and get a real sense of achievement from mastering and using new key phrases! We are free to choose whether to teach an ancient or a modern language; it is much more about language learning skills than the particular language on offer. So at LPPS, the children learn Spanish, French and Mandarin, to lay strong foundations for their future languages learning, for example, in secondary school; the local receiving secondary schools offer a range of languages including Spanish, French and a Mandarin Excellence programme.
The children are given the opportunity not only to learn about other cultures but, more importantly, to communicate with others. The emphasis is on practical tasks, such as drama, story-telling, role-play, speaking and listening, with the opportunity to see much more of the written language from Year 3 onwards and to build on their early skills, allowing them to speak, write and listen with increasing skill.
We endeavour to promote and celebrate the rich range of languages spoken by our children. We encourage our children to celebrate their languages by providing them with opportunities to use, and teach their peers and adults, simple greetings and phrases. In addition, we also invite parent visitors into school to share their language, food and culture.
Even though learning a language is only compulsory from Year 3 upwards, we choose to introduce some informal learning in the years before this. We use singing or simple story-telling, in EYFS and Year 1. We teach the children a range of simple greetings, songs and rhymes to prepare them for when they begin to learn Languages formally in Year 2, when they learn counting, colours and greetings in Spanish.
All children in Key Stage 2 are given opportunities for:
- Listening to a language and joining in to learn everyday words and phrases;
- Learning how to have conversations in another language to share ideas and opinions as well as being able to ask and answer questions;
- Reading texts and stories in another language, carrying out basic comprehension tasks;
- Learning songs, poems, rhymes and stories in another language to help with vocabulary but also with cultural understanding;
- Writing some words and phrases from memory as well as describing people and places with basic sentences.
The children learn these skills within a range of everyday and routine topics such as numbers, colours, greetings, family, animals, school, travel, or other similar subjects that seem appropriate.
How can I support my child with Languages?
The foreign language learning your child experiences at school should be more than enough to set them on their way. However, you might like to support their learning at home by trying some of the following:
- Take an interest, and learn with your child
Learn alongside them: find out the language they are learning and get them to teach you some key words and phrases. They might like to make a simple poster illustrating key words and phrases, or use Post-It notes to label everyday objects in the language. Another good idea is to create a ‘new words’ dictionary for them to record all the new things that they have been learning. You may want to invest in a bilingual dictionary for them to look up further words — there are a great many ‘child-friendly’ versions of these available.
- Make it Multimedia
Why not find books, films or songs in the language they’re learning? These can be a wonderful way to learn a language without even realising it. Early-readers or lift-the-flap books are brilliant for learning a new language. The Internet is perfect for bringing some cultural learning into your home, allowing as it does access to videos, radio/audio and images from all around the globe. It has never been easier to expand your child’s horizons. There are also many games accessible on-line (many of which are free) to help engage your child at home as well as websites (listed below) that include games, eBooks and links to other foreign language sites too.
- Take a Trip
If you are lucky enough, perhaps you might like to plan a family holiday to a country where the language is spoken. This is not always possible for many families, but any way for your child to meet native speakers can be a wonderful experience. Alternatively, there’s always the good old-fashioned pen-friend option!
- Make it Fun
Above all, make any additional language learning you do at home fun, practical and supportive. Learning a new language can be a little daunting at first but with the help of parents and schools, it needn’t be the case. Even playing simple games (such as 'Snap', 'Guess Who', 'Snakes and Ladders') and adding an element of a foreign language (such as counting, colours or even just answering yes and no) could be a wonderful aid.
- Useful Weblinks
A good way to help your child is to use some of the online resources that are available.
- Languages pages from the BBC
- Little Red Languages(free languages resources and activities)
- Duolingo— a fun and effective way to learn languages