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Languages at primary school

(33 Posts)
TeddyBare Thu 01-Nov-12 20:14:00

Do your dc do a foreign language at their primary school? Which language(s) do they do? What age do they start at, how often do they have lessons, what kind of things do they focus on and how much fluency do they have by the end of year 6? Do your dcs enjoy the lessons? Do you think it's useful?
I'm looking at language lessons for dd which will be with a tutor. I'm interested to know how much is considered the "right" amount for primary ages dc and what kind of level they typically are at the start of secondary. Thank you for all advice!

SavoyCabbage Thu 01-Nov-12 20:19:50

Yes. I live in Australia though. They earn Indonesian as its the easiest one to learn hmm apparently as its phonetic.

From year three they have 50 minutes a week with an Indonesian teacher. She isn't indonesian though. Before that they do bits and bobs with their own class teacher.

Here, they have to learn a language from year three and soon the law is being changed so that it has to be an Asian language.

I wish it wasn't Indonesian as it seems like a waste of time to me. I would be more supportive if it was Chinese or Japanese.

FionaJT Thu 01-Nov-12 23:10:14

My dd is in Yr 3 and her class has started French this year, just once a week I think, and not sure for how long. She loves it, it's a bit early to tell how much they are actually going to learn yet. I think any sort of language study and the earlier the better is a good thing (but I am the daughter of a French teacher with various multilingual relatives).
But I have heard from the wife of a teacher at a primary in the next county that that school was asked by the local secondary not to teach a language at primary level, as they don't want kids from different schools coming in at different levels, but to start them all from scratch at 11. hmm

TeddyBare Fri 02-Nov-12 10:36:58

Are secondary schools really opposed to languages in primary shock surely they could split the classes in to sets of differentiate the work to take account of how much language the dc have already learned. That seems like laziness to me.
Savoy, I can understand your concerns but I suppose learning how to learn a language is also a really important skill and if it's done too quickly / it's too hard then it's really easy to loose confidence. At least Chinese of Japanese later will come more quickly later.
Do they get homework or spellings / vocab lists on top of the class or is it all done in school? My dc are bilingual English / German but as dp is the German I still don't feel like I really understand language learning.

Blu Fri 02-Nov-12 15:57:20

DS did Spanish once a week from reception onwards. He enjoyed it, and gained confidence with accent, with an ability to learn another language and learned lots of vocab. It was with a proper MFL teaher, not a non-language primary teacher. I thnk it would have been more effective had they had 2 lessons a week, and had opportunities to do more conversation.

cumbrialass Fri 02-Nov-12 18:40:00

My primary feeds into upwards of seven secondary schools each year and between them they teach 4 different langauges in Year 7, French, German, Spanish and Mandarin! Children entering secondary school may have done anything between 0 and 4 years of language study of the target language and of varying degrees of quality. My facility with teaching French depends on my O level ( Grade B!) obtained some 35 years ago ( and I'm considered pretty good in my school so you can imagine what experience some of the other have!) Language teaching in Primary schools can best be described as "varied"

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Nov-12 19:19:24

State schools : French taught at primary from year 3 by the teachers from the Secondary until the primary teachers were trained up

sausagesandwich34 Fri 02-Nov-12 19:24:52

my dcs have done tasters in several different languages at primary but nothing more exciting than counting, colours and 'my name is'

the local high schools do 4 languages in yr 7 and you don't know which language your child will do until they get there so there's no point trying to prepare for high school

elvisola Fri 02-Nov-12 19:27:40

My DD is in Y1 and has an hour of French each week. So far she can say the basic words and count to 10.

sonniboo Sat 03-Nov-12 07:33:00

My dd's primary offers basic French as well as German and Spanish 'clubs' but they are very basic. Most (private) secondaries offer French, German, Spanish and Latin from y7 and then let you drop languages as you specialise in one or two for gcse.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sat 03-Nov-12 12:18:45

They teach Spanish at our primary, from Reception.

By the end of Y6, some children are relatively fluent, some only have a smattering. It depends on which teachers they have as they go through the school, as some are more fluent than others themselves.

My Y6 DS1 has a smattering, but he was above Reception age when they started teaching Spanish, he was in Y2, and has had one teacher twice that has not picked up Spanish very well.

My Y4 DS2 was the first cohort that started in Reception - and can sing in Spanish, and translate what he is singing. But all his teachers have picked up Spanish well.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sat 03-Nov-12 12:19:47

The teachers that are more fluent bring Spanish into all the topic based work, only literacy and Numeracy don't have Spanish taught in those lessons.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sat 03-Nov-12 12:21:49

My DS1 intends to continue with Spanish, as either Secondary he gets into has an after school club from Y7. One carries the after school club forward to an additional language GCSE, one doesn't.

TeddyBare Sat 03-Nov-12 13:09:47

Couthy, do you mean that your ds's classes are taught in Spanish? Do they still learn as much history etc if they also have to understand the language?

changeforthebetter Sat 03-Nov-12 13:19:23

That sounds fantastic Couthy. I teach MFL at secondary and would far rather kids came with an existing knowledge of language. There is plenty of research to show that boys, in particular, disengage from MFL by age 11. Primaries are under such pressure with literacy and numeracy that this is an area which can be sadly neglected. DD has had a patchy education in MFL so far KS2 but they are using a languages student at the moment and she has really caught the languages bug. I think another problem for primaries is which language to teach. It's easy in other countries - English is pretty damn useful. Do you go for a language of a major European trading partner or go Asian - Mandarin or Japanese? How realistic is it that kids who struggle with their own language could really manage a completely different script and tones or social impacts on language use? Where would these teachers come from?

One of my Y9s takes great pleasure in deliberately mispronouncing parce que as pars-uh kew. Rejecting MFL is vair cool amongst teens.

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 14:17:51

Ds started French in reception, one lesson a week. Now in year 4 he has two lessons a week (2 hours). He will start Latin in year 5.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sat 03-Nov-12 15:08:03

They aren't 'taught' in Spanish, but as they use a topic based curriculum for everything other than Literacy and Numeracy, Spanish is brought into the topics, so if they are doing the 'Under the sea' topic, they will learn the spellings for the topic words in English, but they will also be taught the phrases in Spanish too.

My DS2's homework over half term was to learn a list of Spanish words to describe various weather conditions. He can now say that it looks like it is cloudy with a possibility of rain in Spanish!

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sat 03-Nov-12 15:09:20

They go through the Spanish as a class, them consolidate the work at home with homework. It works really well.

sliceofcakenowplease Sat 03-Nov-12 16:17:28

My DCs currently go to an international school, a secondary and primary in one, but a state school. They learnt French, and because it had many children who came from embassies etc; they also had other languages- Russian, German, Spanish and Catalan. However, the parents would select one of those languages, so each child learnt two languages

CMOTDibbler Sat 03-Nov-12 16:25:42

Ds's school do an hour a week of german from reception, then both french and german from y3, plus spanish is optional in y5/6. I haven't quite worked out how the option bit works, but I know they do latin as well in those slots.

losingtrust Sun 04-Nov-12 12:30:56

My kids state primary did Spanish in year 3 with the option to continue lunchtimes and then compulsory again in year 7. School has lots of Spanish speaking parents though as rc school and many kids are fluent. When they feed into secondary school at an advantage in Spanish but in year 7 they do short courses in four languages and other feeder schools do French. They then specialize in year 8 with language of choice and every dc not just top set can choose a second in year 9.

losingtrust Sun 04-Nov-12 12:40:11

I did French at state primary which was very unusual at the time and only one lesson a week on year 4. Interestingly my sister did the same and other did not. Both me and the sister who did went on to have a lifelong enjoyment of learning languages with language degrees and we did an a level in Italian and night school together. The sister who missed out on this has never been interested, speaks no other language and struggled at gcse level. All the same parents but shows the difference between even a small amount of language learning before 11.

mimbleandlittlemy Mon 05-Nov-12 15:58:28

My ds (state primary) did Spanish from Y3 for an hour a week, changing to French in Y5 - the change to do with the fact the Spanish teacher left and the other two language specialists amongst the teachers are French specialists instead. Ds says he enjoys French much more than Spanish but I think that's because he likes the teacher far better. She used to teach in France and still has connections with her old school giving Ys 5 & 6 the option to take part in a French exchange too.

prettybird Mon 05-Nov-12 16:15:16

Scottish primary schools start teaching a second language (usually French - not sure if this is statutory) no later than P6 (=Y5) and there are proposals to start in P1 and add in a third language in P5. Not sure if the funding will ever get beyond pilot studies to do that though! hmm

Ds has just started at secondary school: the French he had been doing at primary school (which I hadn't been sure about but was probably just being a bit precious as I have a French degree wink) seems to have given hima good foundation as he said that the kids from his school (only 4 of them, as they are placing requests) were coping easily. They also had to choose a second foreign language - he chose Spanish over Urdu! grin

prettybird Mon 05-Nov-12 16:16:27

Forgot to mention he started French in P5 (I think - it might even have been P4) but only had about an hour a week.

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