Practical pointers for keeping and growing your primary French or Spanish

S.C Webster reports in the TES on the loss of French and Spanish in primary schools.

I wonder if you happened to read, as I did, a news item a few weeks back, where primary heads were being reported to have said that primary modern languages and music were disappearing from the curriculum due to funding cuts. 

They are both skill based subjects. Most modern language teaching specialists are either educated native speakers, or have taken their language on beyond school to university, before they began to feel even remotely secure, in respect of the accuracy, pronunciation or grammar of the language structures and phrases they were using. 

If there is no longer the funding to recruit these specialists either from the local secondary school, or indeed externally, where are they going to come from?

Solution 1: Grow your own expertise

Step 1: Appoint a primary MFL coordinator.

If you have not already done so, appointing a primary modern language coordinator in your school is a great idea. Someone who has at least some background in a modern language, even if it’s only a GCSE.

Step 2: Support and mentor your coordinator.

Take strategic steps toward supporting and empowering your primary MFL subject coordinator. 

Ask them for an annual “Action Plan” detailing their proposals to help the school improve the quality of the delivery of its MFL curriculum. In short, collect long-term plans for modern languages and add them to the school’s curriculum on your school website. 

Step 3: Enrich your modern language programme

Ask your coordinator to gather a team to plan some sort of special experience or “day” to think more about and celebrate the culture of the country whose language the children are studying. These are always fun and are a great way to raise your children’s awareness of the wider world. 

Step 4: Introduce a more serious edge to the delivery of your MFL – assessment

It is at this point that both you and your MFL lead in school may have to consider whether or not your year 6 children have really made “the substantial progress in one language” called for by the national curriculum. 

A good measure of what “substantial” is supposed to look like is still the “2005 KS2 guidelines for Modern Languages”. 

Step 5: Add magic!

Finally check out the British Council “Schools online” global gateway which has succeeded in facilitating over 4,000 partnerships between UK schools and other countries since 2005.

Solution 2: Learn as you teach

An array of eclectic MFL resources can be very daunting for the non-specialist teacher. It is difficult when you don’t really speak the language to know exactly where to start or even how to begin. 

What non-specialist teachers really need is a resource that has already done all that pulling together for them, something they can just “trust” to simply walk both themselves and the children through their modern language learning week by week. In short something that has been designed to teach the teachers to teach the children. 

Read more tips Practical pointers for keeping and growing your primary French or Spanish

Have you lost a foreign language in your primary school? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin

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