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News today says our children are bottom in Europe for languages ...

(93 Posts)
azulita Sat 16-Feb-13 19:38:05

I'd like to know who, if anybody, sees the value of introducing sounds in French or Spanish to pre-schoolers. French songs for kids, Spanish songs for kids - would you/do you have any at home?

Saxie Sat 16-Feb-13 19:41:06

My sons nursery has a weekly French lesson which he loves. I'd be interested in mandarin for both of us if it was local. He's at the"sponge" stage and its a shame to miss the opportunity.

azulita Sat 16-Feb-13 19:58:22

That's great, but it's at 'school'. Do you ever do any extra at home? And what about those who have nothing at nursery? Does anybody think parents need to change their mindset about languages, or is it just up to schools to address the problem?

azulita Sat 16-Feb-13 21:59:26

I've just seen there is another thread about starting up a bilingual nursery school. My question is different - I want to know what parents are happy to do at home. I really do not believe in hothousing, but as Saxie says, young children are such sponges, and what happens at home makes such a difference. I'm interested to know whether English parents value learning a foreign language enough to bring it into their homes.

I suppose the answer is that it depends a lot on whether they learnt a second language themselves ..

By the way, I'm not a languages fanatic at all - I just think it would be good if we could all have a second language in addition to, not instead of, all our other skills!

Re the BBC - I think there is a bit of progress there ... Has anybody noticed that presenters seem to be making a real effort to pronounce foreign words correctly? It might just be me, but I have noticed quite a difference in the last year or so.

TreadOnTheCracks Sat 16-Feb-13 22:09:40

my dc had French at nursery from 4 and attend French club at school. We have a couple of french DVDs.

I don't speak French so feel very limited about what I can do at home. I beleive it will be easier if they are introduced to the sounds early. French club is quite expensive so I hope so!

BackforGood Sun 17-Feb-13 17:34:56

Where I work, there are huge amounts of bi (and even tri) lingual children, and I think it's a fantastic skill to have, but they are able to learn it because they speak one (or two) languages at home all the time and then English at Nursery / Pre-school / Playgroup, and on TV. You are not going to learn another language by listening to a few recorded songs alone.

notcitrus Sun 17-Feb-13 18:30:41

It would help if we could easily get foreign TV channels, especially on Freeview.
I once asked Sky how much it would cost to get say German ZDF or Sat-1 and a couple French channels.

Aoparently the only way was to pay for the standard package, and the basic sports package, and the basic movie package, and then the more random channels, then the extra sports, the extra movies, and fibally the ultimate bunch of obscure channels. And pay about £80 a month.

I declined. I know people who get their own sat dish and install it themselves and manage to tune in foreign channels, but that's not exactly simple.

Ds does French at nursery. I know the basics but my pronounciation is terrible. I teach him the odd German phrase, but no Spanish beyond the Lingo Show.

CunfuddledAlways Sun 17-Feb-13 18:45:35

i can speak barely asnything else in any other languages so their would be no point me trying to teach my kids as the pronouciation would be wrong etc, think things like polish/russian would be most useful to them in the area we live but they may pick some of it up anyway <not really bothered emotion>

happily3 Mon 18-Feb-13 13:37:48

If nothing else songs could help develop a decent accent early on?

TreadOnTheCracks Mon 18-Feb-13 13:40:49

To hear a native speaker is best isn't it? We were lucky that we had a native french lady do lessons at dc's nursery school, we have a retired french teacher ( she's English) at after school french club.

happily3 Tue 19-Feb-13 08:30:19

A good teacher is key, surely. A native speaker might be excellent, or might not.

Wewereherefirst Tue 19-Feb-13 08:40:20

DS1 has been learning Spanish at school since he was in Reception, and alongside that my family and I have been conversing with him in Spanish- we have Spanish family which helps us. At school DS gets 5-10 minutes a week which isn't enough to cover pronunciation let alone helps them converse!

Greythorne Tue 19-Feb-13 08:51:21

Songs and nursery rhymes in an additional language for an hour of week is a pointless waste of time.I

happily3 Tue 19-Feb-13 10:30:06

It might not be if it helps young kids to hear and pronounce the sounds? I seem to remember some research a few years back about babies over a certain age no longer reacting to sounds they hadn't already been exposed to ..

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 10:55:09

I think we need to concentrate on getting languages in to primaries and taught far better at secondary before we worry about nurseries.

My DDs did French club at primary, but one lesson a week is nothing like enough, a few games at nursery certainly aren't enough.

They need practice and given language teaching in Britain has been dire for as long as anyone can remember, parents don't have the skills to help. Practice has to be school based and that means MFL has to be part of The KS2 curriculum, not a paid for lunch time club.

TreadOnTheCracks Tue 19-Feb-13 15:02:12

Any improvements would be welcome here. I was led to believe as I signed the cheque for nursery school French lessons that early on is best and a native speaker will have the best pronounciation.

notamomtokids Thu 28-Feb-13 18:54:56

I have just commented on another thread about this. This is my 'thing'; I teach English to Spanish children.

At the moment there is a huge emphasis in Europe to learn English and historically people from the UK have not really had much need to learn another language, much less so now that all of Europe is learning it, but having a second or third language is a great skill to have.

I would wholly recommend it, but I do believe this is something parents have to take control of and not rely on schools. It is also something that I believe needs to start at a very early age.

Finding cartoon in a foreign language is a great way to do it but it has to be done on a daily basis. 15 minutes daily is ok because exposure to the language is what's important.

gabsid Wed 13-Mar-13 11:46:51

I think we need to find time for languages and recognise that it is a long term process to learn a language to a decent standard.

One short session of French a week in preschool together with a bit of Spanish in Reception and teaching a few German phrases at home seems rather pointless to me.

The reason other nationals are better at languages is that they spend about 4 hours per week learning English to start with in primary school now, its seen as important, and on top of that there is another couple of hours French or whatever else.

At the moment, here DC get a patchy bit of everything in primary and then try to learn 2 languages in half the time of some European children.

gabsid Wed 13-Mar-13 11:49:31

The result is that they think languages are hard, boring and pointless, which I can understand as they aren't really good enough to use any language to converse or read.

happily3 Wed 13-Mar-13 13:42:48

I agree gabsid. We need to start earlier. I'm trying to do my bit, in a tiny way, by offering free 'French and Spanish listening for children' online. I've had a good response from teachers, but almost none from parents so far - such a shame as I'd like to reach out to those not being taught much at school.

MGMidget Thu 14-Mar-13 22:29:09

I am all for learning languages early. DS started at 2.5 with a CD of French songs and when it was apparent he was interested and picking it up we enrolled him in a weekly toddlers' French class and booked ad hoc babysitting with a French lady who spoke some French with him. Now he's 5 he can understand simple conversations in French ( replies in English mostly but I am told this is a normal development stage). When he speaks French he sounds French to French people so they tell me. I don't think older children can pick up the accent so successfully. I have read that children learn the accent best if they start learning a language before the age of 3.

Idratherbemuckingout Thu 21-Mar-13 09:11:47

You need a french teacher in school doing several hours a day minimum only speaking french to the children from an early age. THEN it would work.
Having lived in France I know that English children pick up a language through immersion incredibly quickly.
My son did. Child minder pre school one or two days a week as a toddler, then ecole maternelle from age 2 and a half and full time school by the time he was four. Totally bilingual with possible zero input from parents (although I am bilingual too so that does help as he can't say stuff behind my back that I won't understand).
Back in the UK now, he's taking his french GCSE next term in Year 7.
Immersion is the answer - maybe a full day a week, or several hours a day. We need to recruit french graduates into the primary classroom.
My daughter is a Reception teacher but is not allowed to use her french degree on the children as she is so busy teaching the holy National Curriculum to them. What a waste of her possible input. That's the time to start.

happily3 Thu 21-Mar-13 13:56:28

I had the fantastic advantage of an early start in three languages, and so did two of my dcs. They both ended up at Cambridge (not doing modern languages by the way) so a bilingual start certainly didn't hold them back ..

RiversideMum Sun 24-Mar-13 08:32:53

I teach reception and we do plenty of work in other languages. The children are interested that some of them speak other languages at home and we always do stuff like learning to answer the register or count to 10 in various languages.

I do think that language teaching in primary is somewhat cobbled together. It really is an area where it's impossible for teachers to "read up" on to teach and yet that is what they are being expected to do in many cases. I think we need specialist language teachers in primary.

gabsid Wed 27-Mar-13 11:47:01

This threat has been going for a while and judging by the number of posts it is all to obvious that languages are considered pointless in this country.

I have just googled language jobs in my area (German and French) and there are quite a few, a lot more than 10 years ago, however, a good standard of the language is always required and usually some sort of specialism, e.g. engineering. Those jobs had next to no applicants - and those who apply will probably be foreign nationals - its a sad state of affairs!

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