A Whole School Approach to the Teaching and Learning of Spanish

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: St. Laurence's National School (Primary), Greystones (IE)

1. Profile of language initiative

1.1 Background of initiative


Following a successful bid for government funds in the year 2000, the two top classes of the school have been learning Spanish as part of the Modern Languages Project in Primary School Initiative in Ireland. Since that date the Principal with her colleagues have set about to integrate Spanish language learning into the school curriculum at all levels.

To achieve this, the school put in place a programme for each class level using project work with a particular focus e.g. song, drama, art, poetry, cookery or ICT. Those involved in setting up the programme included the school principal, the visiting language teacher, the class teachers, the Comenius Assistant and Spanish teacher-training students.

The programme is now incorporated into the school plan and can be taught by any class teacher and adjusted to take into account the needs of all pupils. It is envisaged that the programme will be updated on a yearly basis.

The initiative is helped by the existence in the town of a private school for Spanish pupils 11-14 who gladly come into the school and bring their own Spanish local colour and authentic speech with them.

1.2 Description and objectives of initiative


The main objective of the initiative was to integrate Spanish into the school curriculum at all levels and to provide a user friendly curriculum so that all teachers, including those with very little Spanish, could teach Spanish to their pupils. A further aim was to provide opportunities for all members of the school community to understand and use their knowledge of the Spanish language, to give every member of the school community a “feel” for the Spanish language, Spanish culture and traditions and to have every member of the school community aware that Spanish was being taught in the school.

1.3 Practical realisation


Spanish is now taught to all pupils throughout the school and following a decision by the Principal there is now a curriculum for Spanish for all classes. This ensured continuity for the different teachers of Spanish, some of whom are in the school for short periods only, such as the Comenius assistants and Spanish teacher training college students. The initiative has been ongoing since 2000 and culminated during the school year 2007 / 2008 in the writing of a school plan for the teaching of Spanish.

Children are given opportunities to show-off their Spanish at school assemblies, concerts, Christmas Services, celebration of Europe Day, visits to and from the local private Spanish school, displays of work on corridors and in class rooms.

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