Early language initiative – Primary school UK

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: Hucknall National C of E Primary School (UK)

1. Profile of school

1.1 Main characteristics

This is a larger than average sized primary school with 450 pupils. It is state funded and coeducational, and the majority of the children have English as their mother tongue. The school is an amalgamated infant and junior school, which opened as a full primary school in September 2006.

 

1.2 Language teaching in the schools

The language of tuition in the school is English and the majority of children are from homes where English is the mother tongue. French is introduced in the school at Key Stage 2 when the children are about 9 years old. Approximately 60 % of the children participate. There are no language assistants in the school but three members of the staff have been funded by the British Council for a three month exchange programme in France. As a result, the school now cooperates and has a ‘twinning’ agreement with a school near Nancy.

2. Profile of the language initiative

 

2.1 Description

The school has included the teaching of French in all of their Junior classes and the introduction of key words for the Infants. The Junior children have a 30 minute French lesson a week but there are also some examples of French being used in a cross-curricular way, in Math, PE and learning key words during assembly time. The teachers use the website www.tout-le-monde-.co.uk as a resource tool. The school also has the help of a native French speaker, a parent of one the children, who will be coming into school to bake and practice speaking French with our children. The idea is that through baking practical vocabulary will emerge.


As a result of the connection with the French school, children have begun communications in two of the classes. As has already been mentioned, three of the teachers have been on a teacher exchange to Nancy and the management is trying to support most teachers to teach French to their class through language up-skilling and courses. They have also been awarded the Intermediate International Schools Award and are in process of working towards the Full award.

3. Evaluation

3.1 Success factors

In the UK Primary School curriculum, The Key Stage 2 Framework for Languages states in its section on Intercultural Understanding: ’Language competence and intercultural understanding are an essential part of being a citizen and it is on this basis that the school management has implemented its language policy in the pedagogic practice of the school. Through the intercultural approach, the teachers believe that the children develop a greater understanding of their own lives in the context of exploring the lives of others. They learn to look at things from another's perspective, giving them insight into the people, culture and traditions of other cultures.

So one of the main success factors has been the support and encouragement of school management, which has resulted in the staff feeling more confident in introducing the foreign language programme in the school.


Another success factor is the fact that all the teachers are involved not just one specialist teacher. Yet another is the fact that the school has an ongoing relationship with a school in France. School management have also signalled their long term commitment by aiming to up-skill teachers and to provide good quality resources so that the teaching of French continues in the school despite the changing of staff.

3.2 Success indicators

The main success indicator has been the enthusiasm and motivation of the pupils. The exchange of information with the French School has really sparked their interest. They love the style language classes take in Primary education. They are loud, fun and active and full of interesting resources. The school is not reliant on one specialist teacher.

A more official indicator is that in the school’s official inspection report “Ofsted”, the inspector reported that all pupils in Years 3 to 6 have good opportunities to learn a modern foreign language by participating in weekly French lessons. He was particularly impressed by the fact that pupils who have learning difficulties and disabilities are provided with sound support to help them join in with all the activities provided.

 

Also, according to feedback from the Secondary school, the children from the Hucknall school have adapted well to language transition in secondary school languages classes. The work done in Primary has given them enthusiasm and knowledge to keep up with the pace of a secondary language classroom.

One of the classes has also performed a Bilingual Nativity as part of the Christmas carol production.