Our academy is guided by the National Curriculum for Languages and 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.
From Year 2 to Year 6, all pupils have 2 timetabled sessions a week, a curriculum lesson and an enrichment lesson, both taught by a language specialist.
Key Stage 1
In Year 2 the curriculum lessons are based around a different French story or song each term and most lessons involve listening and speaking, pair-work, singing and games. Although the children will gradually be introduced to the written language, there is no specific focus on writing at this stage. Through the chosen text, children will be introduced to key language and structures. For example, The Hungry Caterpillar teaches the children initial numbers, colours, fruits and the days of the week. Children listen actively each time the story is read to them and demonstrate their understanding with simple actions. Very soon, they find themselves joining in and by the end of the module most children should be able to participate confidently with the retelling of the story. Enrichment lessons in Year 2 follow the class topic, art or PE curricula. As the lessons are very practical, children can follow the simple visual instructions and demonstrations without much need for English.
Key Stage 2
The practical enrichment lessons continue into Key Stage 2. Technical language is introduced as would be any other topic language, then carefully constructed PowerPoint presentations are used where appropriate to give step by step support for children as it reinforces the technical teaching. In this way, artistic techniques can be explored, and scientific experiments set up. In the summer terms, the children enjoy learning team games, French playground games and other outdoor activities in French that further support the outdoor learning curriculum goals.
Each term, the year group topic is extended into French curriculum lessons and is used not only to deepen their understanding of the topic but also to provide children with the opportunity to develop the keys skills below:
- Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in and responding
- Explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words
- Engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help
- Speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures
- Develop accurate pronunciation and intonation so that others understand when they are reading aloud or using familiar words and phrases
- Present ideas and information orally to a range of audiences
- Read carefully and show understanding of words, phrases and simple writing
- Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language
- Broaden their vocabulary and develop their ability to understand new words that are introduced into familiar written material, including through using a dictionary
- Write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
- Describe people, places, things and actions orally and in writing
- Understand basic grammar, including: feminine and masculine forms and the conjugation of high-frequency verbs; key features and patterns of the language; how to apply these, for instance, to build sentences; and how these differ from or are similar to English.
Children learn all the ‘usual’ vocabulary one would expect at Key Stage 2, but within the context of their class topic, thereby making it much more meaningful.
Year 3, for example, learn weather expressions through our study of the water cycle in French using the text ‘Gaston la Petite Goutte de Pluie’ (Gaston the little Raindrop), whilst learning about extreme weather in geography.
Ancient Egypt is studied in Year 4, and in French the children learn family members and colour description through the story of Petit Noun, a blue pottery hippo buried in an ancient tomb.
When children in Year 5 learn about the Saxon and Viking invasions in history lessons, in French they learn about Clovis, the first French king. They use numbers in the hundreds to plot the key dates for events in his life and learn expressions for daily routine when looking at the everyday lives of people at that time.
In Year 6 the children study WW2. In French they look at life in occupied France: clothing, what food was available and why, and use higher numbers for key dates. They also enjoy a café/restaurant module, learning to order food, drinks and ice creams both for future travel and in preparation for the residential trip to Paris (where they can also see the original blue hippo in the Louvre!)
‘Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures.’ At Paddock Wood Primary Academy, the language teaching provided encourages pupils’ curiosity and deepens their understanding of the world around them.
Children are able to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing.
Looking at the grammar and structure of a foreign language actually impacts positively on their understanding of their own language. When looking at word groups and syntax, the children are quick to point out similarities or differences to their own language.
Pupils are shown how to communicate meaningfully for practical purposes, to learn new ways of thinking and to enjoy the thrill of reading a story in the original language.
When the children move on to secondary school they may continue with French or may start a new language. What we provide them with is the confidence of knowing how to learn, of understanding the importance of ‘having a go’ and of trusting that a sympathetic listener will fill in any gaps.
Language teaching in primary schools should provide the foundation for learning further languages. At Paddock Wood Primary Academy we equip our pupils with the basics to study, perhaps to work in other countries and, in time, to be international citizens of the future.