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Do your children learn a second language in Primary School?

(114 Posts)
SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 09:49:22

I'm Irish, so we obviously study Irish alongside English from Baby Infants (your Reception I think). It's an obligatory subject with some exemptions, much like English and Maths.
I'm just curious whether schools in England/Scotland/EU/US/Aus/NZ/Rest of world study a second core language and what it is? I think Welsh is probably a core subject in Wales?
Just idle curiosity!

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BlueChampagne Thu 24-Sep-20 09:51:51

Spanish at DS2's primary (England).

emummy Thu 24-Sep-20 09:52:20

Mine did French from about primary 3, we’re in Scotland. Not to a very high level though!

VickySunshine Thu 24-Sep-20 09:53:03


SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 09:53:05

Oh and fun fact - the English word for the Irish language is 'Irish', not Gaelic as it is referred to in English media (I'm looking at you Kay Burley). The word for the language in Irish is 'Gaeilge'.
Most people don't know that, so it's always called Gaelic for some strange reason. We know what you're talking about given the context when it's used obviously, but it's technically incorrect. Just to start the thread with a little bit of pedantry! grin

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TheRealJeanLouise Thu 24-Sep-20 09:53:12

Basic French in year 3 for us.

SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 09:54:14

Also interested to hear about Eastern European countries as most I've come across are bilingual if not multi-lingual.

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yellowmaoampinball Thu 24-Sep-20 09:56:07

Mine go to welsh language schools so sort of yes. I think in English language schools in Wales they are taught Welsh too. In my kids school they also had some informal Chinese and French in juniors but not to a high standard.

SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 09:57:44

yellowmaoampinball That's interesting and a good range with Chinese and French thrown in!
How does it work then. Do you do your exams in Welsh? Or is English considered the primary language?

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Margo34 Thu 24-Sep-20 09:57:55

Learning a foreign language is compulsory/statutory under the national curriculum in England starting in KS2, so from Year 3 and onwards. Most often it is French or Spanish but I think it can be ancient or modern foreign language - schools decide that bit.

InvincibleInvisibility Thu 24-Sep-20 09:59:29

I'm in Paris. At our school they learn English from age 6 with a dedicated teacher (but the lessons are crap and basic and the parents all complain).

Before then it depends on the class teacher. DS2 had a teacher when he was 3 who loved English so did songs and words with the class every week.

Then its also the parents who help. For DS2 there was a rota of parents teaching English once a week age 4 and 5 and when he was 5 a Spanish parent did the same with Spanish.

BernardsarenotalwaysSaints Thu 24-Sep-20 10:00:40

French, from Reception, English primary school. I speak some French so do it with them at home too. I think it's great.

SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 10:00:46

That's interesting Margo. I didn't know that.

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BrieAndChilli Thu 24-Sep-20 10:00:57

Mine go to English speaking schools in wales.
They do welsh right from reception and it’s thrown in all over the place (rather then being a set lesson once a week) so they have welsh phrases of the week that must be said in welsh rather than English etc.
Juniors also do a bit of Spanish and french but not loads

In secondary they do welsh as a lesson and have to do it for gcse. They also do french and Spanish up until year 9

Someonesayroadtrip Thu 24-Sep-20 10:01:22

In Wales so they learn Welsh as required by law.

zigaziga Thu 24-Sep-20 10:03:42

English primary - my Dc had French lessons twice a week in reception (age 4) and this will continue up the school.

SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 10:04:30

No German so far!!

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SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 10:06:34

InvincibleInvisibility Is your French good enough that you can help with homework? I've often wondered about people from other countries where English isn't their first language and how they manage if they're not the best at English.

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SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 10:09:25

Irish children lose out to an extent with not learning European languages in addition to Irish, well not until secondary school. Not in my day anyway, though I think some might offer French nowadays.

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JaJaDingDong Thu 24-Sep-20 10:10:21


yellowmaoampinball That's interesting and a good range with Chinese and French thrown in!
How does it work then. Do you do your exams in Welsh? Or is English considered the primary language?

Welsh is the primary language at a Welsh medium school, and exams are done in Welsh too.

English reading and writing is introduced late on in primary school.

TheSeedsOfADream Thu 24-Sep-20 10:11:45

I'm in Italy and ours do English from nursery school onwards.
I also work with lots of international teachers and am a manager in the summer months (usually) at a UK language school where our youngest are 7.
Eastern Europeans (as you specifically mentioned them) take L2 learning very seriously.
I work with teachers of English at primary in those countries from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Russian, Romanian and Bulgarian children's English tends to be of a very high level. We had to put young Romanians and Bulgarians into a senior class one year.

FatCatThinCat Thu 24-Sep-20 10:15:05

i'm in Sweden and ours do English from nursery so my 7 year old is bilingual.

SorryImKnew Thu 24-Sep-20 10:15:46

Yes, I envy the Eastern Europeans as they often tend to have their native language, Russian, possibly a neighbouring country's language and excellent English!!

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SingingSands Thu 24-Sep-20 10:19:37

Mine learned French from Reception.

Mistigri Thu 24-Sep-20 10:21:40

We live in France where a MFL has been compulsory in primary for many years. It's basically whatever language the class teacher is qualified to teach (you need a basic standard in a MFL to get a teaching qualification) - usually English, sometimes Spanish or German. The quality of primary MFL teaching is highly variable but often very poor, because the teachers are usually not language specialists.

The result is that when the kids get to secondary they all have to start from scratch because the new intake all have a completely different standard.

IMO as the parent to one bilingual and one trilingual child - primary MFL teaching is a complete waste of time unless you devote large resources to it. It is much more effective to make a MFL or two compulsory in high school, and to devote resources to older kids. My DD did a bilingual Spanish programme at high school (from equivalent Y11) , and came out fluent with a Spanish bachillerato (high school diploma) on her CV.

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