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Foreign Language teaching at Primary School - what are your views?

(152 Posts)
saraliz Wed 21-Apr-10 19:00:48

I am currently studying for my teaching degree and am a TA in a Primary School. I am very interested in Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), although I'm not convinced they should be in Primary Schools and would love to hear other people's views on this.
Do you think children should be learning a language in Key Stage 2? (Due to become legislation in Sept 2011.)
Should all children be included in these lessons, or should some be removed for extra teaching in more core subjects?
If you are a teacher, how confident do you feel to deliver MFL lessons on a scale of 1-10??
ANY views on this subject will be VERY gratefully received!
Please tell me if you are answering as a parent or a teacher.(or both!)
Many, many thanks!

MmeBlueberry Wed 21-Apr-10 19:02:51

At my school, we teach French from Nursery, to all pupils.

Young children are very receptive to learning a language at a young age.

saraliz Wed 21-Apr-10 19:06:44

I agree. What methods do you you use? Do you have specific teachers who specialise in MFL or do the ordinary teachers do it?
Also, do they feel that they have received enough training to teach MFL?
Sorry to bombard you with questions - I am hoping for some useful views for my final dissertation!
Many thanks

midnightexpress Wed 21-Apr-10 19:07:57

Just marking my place as I'm supposed to be getting hte kids to bed - will come back with my thoughts later.

abride Wed 21-Apr-10 19:12:43

I wish they had been in my children's primary schools. It was one reason for going private. Our primary school never had consistent foreign language teaching. Some terms it was just a club, which only ever seemed to last about eight weeks.

I thought it was such wasted opportunity.

EldonAve Wed 21-Apr-10 19:16:06

I think they should start from nursery - I am a parent

choufleur Wed 21-Apr-10 19:17:30

i think they should be taught in primary. i'm concerned that they may be taught badly though if it's just added on to everyday teachers normal job and they don't speak/read/write that language.

I'm a parent

Magaly Wed 21-Apr-10 19:17:36

I'm not a teacher but I think it should be optional in reception as some children might still be struggling with English, and then in year one it should be part of the curriculum.

My dc1 learns irish as we live in Ireland. Obviously this isn't a modern language, but It is effortless for her. I would prefer she was learning french or spanish to be honest, but at least learning another language besides English 'flexes' that part of the brain ready for when they start the next language. I noticed she had a good ear for Spanish when we were there.

HOWEVER.... my son is on the spectrum and I know that he will struggle with a second language. So yes it's a great idea but I feel that no foreign language should be compulsory. Exemptions should be available.

It's common sense. In adulthood, really great scientists tend not to be great at languages. Having a compulsory language can be upsetting for those who can't manage it.

Magaly Wed 21-Apr-10 19:18:07

obviously that is all from a parent's perspective so I'm not sure how useful that is to you!

Hulababy Wed 21-Apr-10 19:19:37

My DD has been doing French since Y1. They do Jolie Ronde. Was for about 20-30 minutes a week. Now she is in Y3 I think it is two sessions a week. DD likes it and enjoys learning the language, although I would say that how much the children actually know is still very limited even after this length of time.

Hulababy Wed 21-Apr-10 19:20:29

The attached nursery does French each week now - nursery new since DD started.

whooosh Wed 21-Apr-10 19:26:36

Am a parent and think it should be taught from nursery-or at least reception as their learning capability is huge.Think French is outdated and "useless" IMHO.

Clarissimo Wed 21-Apr-10 19:28:58

We're in Wales so mine have been elarning a second language since reception (no native Welsh speakers here so not bilingual: neither are we Welsh actually)

I think it's good. two of mine have sn but even ds3, who has severe language delays and autism enjoys Welsh and is picking it up. I was very unsure about him learning it as he wasn't even speaking English at the time but I think it has helped him grasp language.

Personally i feel theat elarninga s econd language helps with the core stuff anyway- writing, reading, communication skills- rather than hinders it.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 21-Apr-10 19:30:55

My DC learn French from year 1 and Spanish too from year 3. They are taught by native speakers though, and I think that makes a massive difference. And we are very lucky.

hocuspontas Wed 21-Apr-10 19:31:57

Unless they are taught by an MFL teacher I honestly think it's a waste of time. Don't teachers have enough to deliver? I don't think it would be quality teaching and therefore best left until secondary.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 21-Apr-10 19:34:28

It's done as PPA cover in DC's school. And yes, I think having specialist teachers for this is really important.

TotalChaos Wed 21-Apr-10 19:35:19

agree with Clarissimo. My DS has delayed language but has I think benefitted a lot from studying Spanish in primary school. I think they should be taught by a native speaker or by an MFL teacher.

moonstorm Wed 21-Apr-10 19:48:40

Depends how well it's taught. I have the sinking feeling I'm going to be asked to deliver French (like everyone else). I failed at French GCSE... I have no aptitude for languages (I do speak one other language at times at home because of dh, but I have been as good as immersed in it for over a decade - it's not been easy). I have said this until I'm blue in the face, but no one's interested...

Also, I don't know how much good it'll do really. Unless there is other language exposure outside of school, I don't know that it'll be much better than starting at 11. (I live in a bilingual household and yes the younger you begin a language the better, but to be fluent/ good enough is HARD. But that's my opinion. smile

pointydog Wed 21-Apr-10 19:51:02

Far better to be taught by a specialist. Very variable teaching in primaries.

BlauerEngel Wed 21-Apr-10 19:53:00

A second language should be taught as early as possible - 5 at the latest - using the communicative method by a native speaker - asking a lot perhaps, but the results are great. My children are bilingual and go to a school where both languages are spoken. Many of the German children there were only exposed to English at 5, but have since picked it up and speak it fluently.

They started learning French at the age of 10/11 (as a third language) and it's clear that they are learning much quicker than monolinguals, presumably because their brains are more attuned to functioning in two languages.

moonstorm Wed 21-Apr-10 19:53:39

I should just add, that in my school it would be 30-45 minutes a week, which is why I think it not to be too beneifcial. If your school teaches little and often, it might have a bigger impact.

duckyfuzz Wed 21-Apr-10 19:53:43

I am former head of mfl in a secondary school and firmly believe it shoudl start at primary, but porperly, not in the stupid ad hoc way it is done now, which results in having to start again at y7

pointydog Wed 21-Apr-10 19:55:27

It is indeed done in a very stupid ad hoc way, ime, and I have little evidence that shows this will change any time soon

cory Wed 21-Apr-10 20:03:30

Come from abroad where all children learn their first foreign language from age 10 and then most start on a second as they start secondary. I think this is good, but needs to be done efficiently- am very shocked at how little French my own dd has learnt in 4 years: she is now in Yr 8, is g&t, has high marks for everything and can't string a bloody sentence together or read the simplest text because they haven't been told how to use the verb system.

From my own experience of a system where we actually learnt the languages we were taught, I don't think it matters greatly if you take up a language at age 11 or age 5: your accent can be better if you start earlier but only if you have expert teaching, no advantage at all in learning a poor accent at an early age. As for actual understanding of the language, I think that can work far better at secondary school.

I would rather my children were taught the language properly and in a serious fashion as teenagers by qualified teachers than that they learnt a few phrases as 5yo which they then forgot/didn't pronounce properly in the first place. And I want them to learn grammar!!!

thinkingaboutdrinking Wed 21-Apr-10 20:03:36

Am a primary teacher (but currently just doing supply).
IME the teaching of french in primary schools is only good if done by specialists. I have known of people who have never learned french having to teach it and they basically use CDs for pronounciation, but it is dire teaching.
I also think that for some children it might be better to wait till later - they are struggling enough with English sentence construction (both to speak and write). But I know that is controversial.
As a parent, I hope my DC do french from an early age BUT only if taught by specialists. Otherwise its not just a waste of time but can cause problmes later IMO.

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